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Do good baguettes really exist in LA?

  • m

I've got a traveling friend from Austria staying with me now, who is lamenting the lack of really excellent bakery bread-- you know, the kind you can find baking even in European gas stations and it's still 100 times better thn the baguettes you get at the supermarket.

I'm talking the kind of bread where when you bite into it, you have more crumbs on your lap than in your mouth, with a wonderful crispness to the outside and a softness on the inside, without the gumminess and chew that characterizes American attempts at European bread.

Please help, fellow hounds!

Mr. Taster

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  1. see mr. baguette, near rosemead in arcadia

    3 Replies
    1. re: x

      I agree, they are the best I've had in LA.

      Here's the address: 8702 E. Valley Blvd.

      1. re: Dan-o

        I really like to add fresh butter on these. They are very crusty outside yet airy inside. Also, Mr. baguette prices cannot be beat.

        If I am going to make french toast from sliced baguette bread then I get them from La Brea Bakery. These seem to be a little more dense and hold the mixture of Eggs, cream, sugar, orange juice, vanilla and cinnamon better. The more airy Mr. baguette bread does not work as well with that much moisture and other things IMO.

        1. re: JeetJet

          I LOVE the la brea baguette. The ones from Costco no less. 4 bucks for 2.

    2. No question...

      Pain Du Jour
      (310) 399-4870
      828 Pico Blvd,
      Santa Monica

      3 Replies
      1. re: D'oh

        I heard that place closed down a while back. Not the case?

        1. re: chowchick

          They were open last week. Good as ever. French as ever.

          1. re: Palisadesman

            I second that emotion! They've revamped and have plans for more. FINALLY a good bakery and coffee shop in Sunset Park. Whoopee!

            http://lepaindujour.com/

            http://www.yelp.com/biz/le-pain-du-jo...

      2. I have yet to find a bread in LA whose crust is both crisp and tender - whether it's the flour, the water or the kneading, it just does not seem to happen. The only baguette I've found here that I can enjoy for itself is Trader Joe's French (not the sourdough!). It's a poor imitation, but a starving man will eat bugs, won't he?

        3 Replies
        1. re: Will Owen
          o
          onethatgotaway

          I have yet to try a trader joes bread i could stand. I do shop there regularly, just never for bread.

          1. re: onethatgotaway

            I agree- I love TJ's as well, but their fruit and bread are their weakest links

            Mr. Taster

            1. re: Mr. Taster

              The only bread I like from Traders is the demi pain rustica, which is basically all crust. I sure wish they would offer something better.

        2. It's an international chain, but I really like Le Pain Quotidien. There's one on Melrose, west of La Cienega, one in Beverly Hills on Santa Monica Blvd and I just noticed one in Santa Monica near the Promenade. Check out the website for actual addresses.

          www.lepainquotidien.com

          3 Replies
          1. re: Nick

            I agree. And their meringues are excellent.

            1. re: Nick

              I second that... and the brownies are insanely delicious and decadent!! I can't make it home without finishing it in the car first. Terrible :)

              1. re: Ash

                And Starting Next Week, The Studio City location will began Baking the baguettes in the store. and you will be able to buy fresh and warm. Normally they are delivered every morning from the commissary.

            2. Jon's Market has the best, I think. In white bags in a basket in the deli section. Just what you're talking about. Crumbs all over the place and softness inside. Light as a feather. And you gotta eat it the day you get it or it's all dried out.

              Around a buck for 8-12 oz. loaf.

              2 Replies
              1. re: 2chez mike

                Which Jon's Market? 'Cause the one at Hollywood and Vermont has a wretched bread section.

                1. re: maxzook

                  The best baguettes i've seen are at the Jons on Roscoe and Winnetka and _occasionally_ at Bristol farms. It's the ones that are crunchy on the outside and soft inside. They do become completely dry the next day, so you have to eat it right away. It's excellent bread though. Can't stand TJ's baguettes - dry and tasteless.

                  Try em with butter and red caviar - now that's good breakfast :)

              2. The baguettes at Bristol Farms are reliably good

                1. I like the baguette's at the French Market Cafe on Abbot Kinney in Venice.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: JurisDog

                    I like the baguettes at French Market also, and they are just half a block from me. I pick them up when I buy Roquefort cheese there, and sometimes duck mousse. However, Pioneer Bakery is still good IMO, and I shop there on a regular basis.

                  2. a
                    Adlai Stevenson

                    No. I don't know why. Could it be the water?

                    The best I've found is Le Pain Du Jour on the corner of Pico and Lincoln in Santa Monica. You need to get there early because they close when they run out of bread.

                    -Adlai

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Adlai Stevenson

                      they're also closed on mondays and tuesdays.

                      1. re: Adlai Stevenson

                        Pain Du Jour in Santa Monica is definitely the only place in the greater LA area where I've gotten a fully baked basic Parisian style baguette (not for want of looking).

                        As Mr. Taster describes above, these are not rustic, artisinal, or even interesting (most of the recomendations in this thread have been for good, but essentially _interesting_ baguettes, these are terrific, but they're all wrong). A real Parisian baguette is impossibly light with an almost explosive crust that snaps like spun sugar. The crust is crumbly to the point of near inedibility, and the center can be compressed into a ball the size of a pea between the fingers.

                        Pan Du Jour also makes a staggeringly authentic croissant... again, not particularly interesting... just arrestingly authentic.

                        1. re: Absintheuse

                          I could not agree with you more. I often think that when people ask for a baguette a ficille, a batard, etc. they are thinking of something rustic. These breads are not.

                          There are plenty of rustic breads in Paris, Pain du Jour has some of them, but a baguette is not pain de campagne, pain paysanne.

                          Pain du Jour is a real boulangerie. No cakes, nothing fancy...just bread, and an few viennoise, or Danish.

                          They even make a Gateau des Rois in January.

                          1. re: Paliman

                            Every time I go buy Pain Du Jour its closed. Am I missing something, what are their hours because I have tried several times to no avail.

                            1. re: ldodb

                              Closed Mon andTues. And they open at 7:30 and close at either 12 or 3. And if they run out of bread, they go home. They have the biggest selections on Sunday morning.

                              1. re: Paliman

                                Thanks for the help, ill definitely try and make it over there again soon.

                      2. i like le pain quotidien as well - great bread and lattes - also their french donut, jams and hazlenut spread

                        the best versions of the bread you describe I've found at Joan's on Third (try spreading their epoisses berthaut stinky cheese on it - the best) & Beverly Hills Cheese shop

                        I'm not sure of either of their sources but it's just simple, good bread

                        1. Normandie Bakery and Coffee
                          3022 S Cochran Ave.
                          Just north of Jefferson Blvd. between La Brea and Hauser
                          323-939-5528

                          1. Yes. My vote:
                            Figaro Cafe Restaurant
                            (323) 662-1587
                            1802 N Vermont Ave
                            (in Los Feliz)

                            1. sorry but there is a reason parisians looked to the countryside to remember what good bread was. when the crust shatters into your lap thats what's called crappy bread.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: what

                                and dont tell me parisians or euros for that matter eat that crap all the time. i don't care. it's not good.

                                1. re: what

                                  When bread doesn't crumble, I call it Wonder Bread.

                                  Mr. Taster

                                2. I'm shocked only one post on this so far...best baguettes I've had in LA are at the Banh Mi joints along Valley blvd. The best ones are the places with prominent ovens that ensure a supply of fresh loaves. I especially like (from East to West) Mr. Baguette, Baguette Express, and Ba Le. Also the Vietnamese coffee is a damn nice treat for the drive back home.

                                  1. Well, there is no accounting for taste, is there? The divergence of opinion expressed here reminds me of pleasant months spent in Strasbourg. Some bakeries there made the light variety of baguette, like Vietnamese rolls, while others made baguettes with a more dense and pliable interior, due to the use of high gluten flour. Both types of bakery seemed to be equally populated, but I populated the latter. Now I prefer sourdough baguettes made by Panera, which remind me of the sour yardsticks produced by Pioneer Bakery in Santa Monica 30 years ago.
                                    To further reveal my prejudices, my Scandinavian wife and I thought that the French pastries were too sweet, so we would drive across the border to buy desserts in Germany.

                                    1. Good baguettes are hard to come by in Los Angeles. I have not tried all bakeries in Los Angeles, but these are places where you get very good baguettes by french standards: any Jons Marketplace http://www.jonsmarketplace.com/locati... (they sell out by 5 PM), Figaro on Vermont, any Champagne Bakery http://www.champagnebakery.com/.

                                        1. Being French, I lament the absence of truly good bread in LA, not only baguettes. My daily staple is the ficelle from La Maison du Pain (not their baguettes) which is closer to the light, fluffy kind. The size is right for that type of texture, but the bigger baguettes are close to the Vietnamese type, which is OK but I'm not a huge fan.
                                          I'm not a huge fan of Bread Bar for the baguettes, nor Le Pain Quotidien, but I do like their crusty loaves. Le Pain Quotidien does a good walnut loaf, for example. Now, when the former French baker at La Maison du Pain, Charles, was still there he told me the reason why it was next to impossible to make good baguettes here is because the flours are different (and I'd surmise the water too, as it has a higher chlorine content but that affect taste, not texture).
                                          A zillion years ago I had good enough baguettes at Say Cheese in Silverlake but it's not my hood and I haven't had their bread since, hmm, 1999.
                                          This being said, like Mr. Taster above I'm anxiously waiting for tips.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: bad nono

                                            What is your opinion of Pain du Jour in Santa Monica?

                                            1. re: Paliman

                                              I've never been, so I cannot report.

                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                  I was actually at Pain du Jour on Saturday. While the crust is excellent for some reason the baguette was missing something.. in terms of flavor. It was rather bland tasting. I find some baguettes rather tasty and some rather bland. Does anyone know what the cause is. Is it the yeast, flour or a combination.. In any event the crust was really good..

                                                  1. re: Foodandwine

                                                    imho, probably a shortage of salt. I used to get these really tasty baguettes and every so often they tasted completely bland. I finally figured out---from my own experimental home baking--that the problem was salt.

                                                  2. re: Mr Taster

                                                    Oops, sorry, hadn't seen your post. Now, I still haven't been , it's not in my neck of the woods. But I promise if I ever taste it, I'll let you know!

                                            2. Maison du Pain on Pico. Their baguettes are soft as a cloud inside with a crunchy outer crust. 5373 W. Pico.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: jessicak

                                                I think the vietnamese breads in LA far surpass traditional french baguettes. They've improved upon it. They put a bit of rice flour in the mixture, so they're shatteringly crisp and web-like inside, almost extraordinarly delicate. It's even more neutral than regular french bread, so they're excellent with good quality cheese.

                                              2. I have found no better baguette since my days living in France than those made by Thierry Warnier of La Boulangerie, he sells at various farmers markets throughout the Southland.
                                                I find him each Monday morning at the WeHo market at Plummers Park.
                                                I hesitate recommending, since this morning, he sold the last baguettes just as I arrived (holiday crowds!). He is so sweet, he gave me three loaves of pain de campagne for free so that I could make it through the week. He is one of my staples, I don't know how I would live without him! There is a picture of his stand in this link:

                                                http://www.wehonews.com/z/wehonews/ar...

                                                Anyone with better contact information, please post. Thierry also makes wonderful brioche, pain aux noix et raisins, aux olives, etc., etc., etc., ! It is the real French boulanger deal in LA.

                                                1. I think freshly baked baguettes from Bay Cities in Santa Monica are excellent.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Cinemaverite1

                                                    Please don't get me wrong. I love the bread at Bay Cities. But it is too big to be a baguette, and way too chewy, and the inside is all wrong. It is more like a San Francisco sourdough, like Boudin used to make. A baguette is defined as five or six centimeters wide and three or four centimeters tall, but can be up to a meter in length. It typically weighs 250 grammes (8.8 oz).

                                                  2. Whisper Cafe (formerly L'Artiste Patisserie) in Encino has great baguettes.
                                                    Also the Artisan Cheese Gallery in Studio City.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: LMelba

                                                      I was at Artisan Cheese Gallery earlier today and noticed that the baguettes are from Breadbar.

                                                    2. You may want to try the bread at the cheese store in beverly hills.

                                                      1. hmmm, forty some posts and no mention of breadbar. Since thats my favorite baguette in Paris, i'll have to throw them into the mix for LA as well.

                                                        I know the crust shattering type of baguette---i still remember being told by an annoyed Parisian that THOSE baguettes were mass produced dreck from factories outside Paris. Then he sent me to a bunch of bakeries that really baked their own bread.

                                                        Baguettes are a matter of taste. You cannot get the exact same type of baguette in LA as in Paris--not just the question of water but also the flour and the salt and the humidity and the yeast in the walls of the bakery. Vietnamese places do make a certain type of baguette very well--suppose thats a "plus" of colonial occupation. But for just eatting in the car and making a mess, for munching down with nothing on it or for smearing with some nice pate, my vote is for the baguettes of Eric Keyser at Breadbar.

                                                        You may Commence bashing my vote with baguettes at 20 paces.

                                                        1. I had the same struggle until i discovered the baguettes at
                                                          Mr. Marcel Gourmet Market in the Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax
                                                          sweet or sourdough

                                                          Stall # 150
                                                          (323) 935-9451
                                                          www.mrmarcel.com

                                                          if you slip the baguette in the paper bag then in a plastic bag it will stay moist for several days.

                                                          1. I've found baguettes that fit the OP's description at my local farm market at Plummer Park in West Hollywood (on Mondays). Just inside the entrance is a Frenchman with a table full of breads. I keep meaning to try others but can't get past the baguettes!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: katydid13

                                                              see above, Thierry Warnier, La Boulangerie.

                                                            2. Breadbar
                                                              8718 W. 3rd Street
                                                              Los Angeles, CA, 90048
                                                              (310) 205-0124
                                                              http://www.breadbar.net/

                                                              1. Grateful Bread on Montana

                                                                Via Dolce on Montana

                                                                Both are worth checking out!

                                                                1. I'm very partial to the baguettes from Porto's in Glendale.

                                                                  I was in line last night just as the baker was restocking the baguette basket fresh from the oven. By this morning, what was left was already getting a little stale. But for $1.50, who can complain?

                                                                  What I've had of the rest of Porto's breads are variable -- I like the Cuban varieties but I'm meh with the whole wheat variants. La Brea Bakery is very good (the store next to Campanile, not the supermarket stuff), but I live alone and their loaves are so big they turn to rocks before I can get halfway through them.

                                                                  Overall my favorite L. A. bread bakery is EuroPane (not even sure if they have baguettes, I can never get past the rosemary currant bread).

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: maxzook

                                                                    Linking ...

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Bay Cities Italian Deli
                                                                    1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                                                                    Breadbar Century City
                                                                    10250 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90067

                                                                    Mr Baguette
                                                                    8702 Valley Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770

                                                                    Euro Pane Bakery
                                                                    950 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91106

                                                                    Baguette Express
                                                                    400 E Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                                                    Ba Le Sandwich Shop
                                                                    1426 S Atlantic Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

                                                                    Say Cheese
                                                                    2800 Hyperion Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                                                                    Figaro Cafe Restaurant
                                                                    1802 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                                                                    Porto's Bakery
                                                                    315 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203

                                                                    La Brea Bakery
                                                                    624 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                                    Le Pain Quotidien
                                                                    8607 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069

                                                                    Panera Bread
                                                                    12131 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

                                                                    La Maison Du Pain
                                                                    5373 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019

                                                                    Le Pain Du Jour
                                                                    828 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

                                                                    Pioneer Boulangerie
                                                                    804 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

                                                                    The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills
                                                                    419 N Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA

                                                                    Artisan Cheese Gallery
                                                                    12023 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA

                                                                    Bristol Farms
                                                                    1515 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                                                    Grateful Bread (Bakery)
                                                                    1518 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica, CA

                                                                    Jons Market Place
                                                                    20151 Roscoe Blvd, Canoga Park, CA

                                                                    French Market Cafe
                                                                    2321 Abbot Kinney Blvd Ste 200, Venice, CA 90291

                                                                    Normandie Bakery & Coffee
                                                                    9201 W Sunset Blvd West, Hollywood, CA

                                                                    Champagne French Bakery & Cafe
                                                                    7475 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

                                                                    Whisper Cafe
                                                                    17312 Ventura Blvd, Encino, CA

                                                                    Mr Marcel's Gourmet Market duplicate
                                                                    6333 W 3rd St # 236, Los Angeles, CA

                                                                    Via Dolce
                                                                    1627 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

                                                                    Larchmont Village Wine
                                                                    223 N Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                                                  2. OMG don't forget about this place. The sandwiches are what they are known for AND they sell the baguettes.

                                                                    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&h...

                                                                    1. The owner/baker of Amandine is a Japanese woman who learned her skill in France. I like her baguettes, and her croissants (almond and cinnamon) are fantastic, too.

                                                                      1. Nicole's Gourment in South Pas has a good baguette - crusty and light with just enough soft inside without being dense - the only complication is that they typically sell out by early afternoon.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: srnka

                                                                          more links

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Amandine Patissiere
                                                                          12225 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                                                                          Nicole's Gourmet Foods
                                                                          921 Meridian Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91030

                                                                        2. anyone ever try Le Bon Bakery in Woodland Hills? It's on Ventura just east of Topanga. I've bought their bread twice, and it was pretty good. I've never been to France, but the person who recommended Le Bon to me is a friend who lived there for several years and she said it was authentic. They also have pies and tarts and pastries.

                                                                          1. I like Gelsons baguettes the best, and they must bake them all day, because they're usually warm.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: schrutefarms

                                                                              Funny you should mention it. I was at Gelsons yesterday and they had one "baguette" left. Twice the width and two-thirds the length of any baguette digne du nom, and when I asked they said it had been baked at 9 AM (this was 5 PM). Even Albertsons manages to have hot bread at 5 PM.

                                                                              I gave up and bought a La Brea baguette.

                                                                            2. One more vote for Bristol Farms!

                                                                                1. re: cincyn

                                                                                  Boule on La Cienega has the best hand made baguette. This is the closest to Parisian baguette I came across. It has nice crunch crust, soft middle and perfect crust to middle percentage.

                                                                                  1. re: Eastcoast foods nob

                                                                                    Boule has a very good baguette. I like the milk bread too. I don't at all like their current crossiants.

                                                                                  2. re: cincyn

                                                                                    I second david t's comment.

                                                                                    My favorite baguette is found at a Vietnamese restaurant in Orange County - Cali Restaurant & Bakery in Westminster. I don't like their banh mi but their baguettes are incredibly crusty, light and buttery (possibly a bit too buttery). They keep well in the freezer so I'll buy two or three and put them in zip loc bags in my freezer.

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Cali Restaurant & Bakery
                                                                                    15691 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA 92683