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Aug 26, 2009 08:16 PM

Delicious Bakery or Dessert in Chicago?

I will be visiting Chicago over the weekend. I'm staying at the Drake Hotel on Magnificent Mile. I want to find the best bakery, dessert place, cookie, brownie, hot chocolate, or other sweet that is amazing in that area. Especially anything that is unique or native to Chicago. Can you help? I don't mind taking a subway or bus something delicious.

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  1. three places come to mind: bittersweet, vanille, and sarah's pastries and candies. the last one is within walking distance of your hotel, though my favorite of the three is vanille.

    1. For where you are staying, Sarah's definitely. For splurges, the dessert tasting at TRU, or chocolate buffet at the Peninsula are great choices. More Cupcakes is also an excellent place to go.

      10 Replies
      1. re: ms. chow

        Another suggestion is Fox & Obel, Chicago's top gourmet food store. Their bakery is excellent. It's within (long) walking distance.

        1. re: jjo

          Thank you all so much for your great suggestions! I really wanted to try Vanille and TRU, but they won't be open on Monday, which is shaping up to be the only day I'll have unscheduled (stupid wedding!). And the excellent chocolate buffet at The Peninsula is right up my alley, but a Fri/Sat only event. I will definitely try Sarah's and Fox & Obel! Great info!

          1. re: Sweet Sweetie

            You may also be interested in Hot Chocolate, which is a terrific desert bar, pastry shop and restaurant. It's probably a ten minute cab ride from the Drake.

            1. re: jdmath0

              Great rec. But sadly, is also closed on Mondays.

            2. re: Sweet Sweetie

              Vanille can be very, very good. I also believe that it can be mediocre. I just don't think it's a great bakery. Fox & Obel - same thing. And Sarah's I find to be mediocre and well below the first two places. I'm sorry but cornflakes candy and the like do not rise to the level of great bakery foods to me.

              Hot Chocolate is great for desserts and Mindy Segal has proven over her career that she can prepare some of the most amazing plated desserts, as well as great cookies, brownies and ice cream. If you can make it there, do so. It's an upscale restaurant setting (although you can take out cookies and the like) with a large wine and cocktail list. Also, their hot chocolate is amazing. From the Loop, you can take the Blue Line L to Bucktown stop (Damen/North/Milwaukee) and walk north on Damen (less than 10 minutes).

              Pasticceria Natalina is my favorite bakery in the city. They sell authentic Sicilian pastries, which although not my favorite category (I much prefer French), are absolutely outstanding. This place is so successful because they use top quality ingredients and use them with skill - they even import their sheep's milk ricotta). If you go, try the almond flour-based pound cake dotted with pine nuts, the sfogliatelle, cannoli or some of the wonderful cookies. You can get there by taking the Red Line L to Lawrence and walking (or taking the #81 bus) less than 1/2 mile west, then either walking (or taking the #22 Clark St. bus) north 3/4 of a mile north to Pasticceria Natalina. It's in Andersonville, a nice neighborhood to walk around (and while you're there, stop in the Swedish Bakery which is about a block away and offers some pretty good Swedish pastries).

              If you like Asian pastries, I would suggest a visit to St. Anna's bakery in the Chinatown mall. An easy Red Line ride down to 22nd/Cermak and enjoy some great Chinese sweets - egg custard tarts, red bean paste in fried sesame balls, etc.

              By the way, if you take a bus, use for GPS info which tells you when the bus will arrive. Unfortunately, the same info is not available for the L trains.

              1. re: BRB

                Agreeing with BRB, I found both F&O and Vanille to be rather hit/miss.

                1. re: BRB

                  I would recommend Patisserie P as my favorite Hong Kong style bakery. But it is all subjective and personal.

                  1. re: ms. chow

                    I love Patisserie P, and I go back and forth between that and St. Anna's in terms of my favorite. They each have their specialties so for me it depends upon what I'm in the mood for, but I agree that Patisserie P is great (love the custard buns, coconut buns and green bean paste buns and cakes the most - usually a pretty damn good croissant too).

                    1. re: BRB

                      JDmath0, I wanted to try Hot Chocolate very much, but sadly Ms. Chow is correct and it is closed Mondays. I'm heartbroken, but great suggestion.

                      Uhocky, thanks. Still, with so much being closed I bet I will try at least one of those located close to my hotel anyway. Let's hope I get it on a "hit" day.

                      Ms. Chow and BRB, thank you so much for referring me to the neighborhood bakeries! I frequently find amazing treats in the everyday bakeshops. They are especially helpful given that every high end restaurant is closed that day. Obviously, I will need to come back to Chicago on ANY other day of the week and experience all of the dessert menus.

                  2. re: BRB

                    Vanille is not a typical American bakery, but a patisserie, whose main emphasis is pastry/desserts. The main reason you go there is for the entremets. If you want brownies or cookies, go elsewhere. They also happen to have the best almond croissants in Chicago.

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