North Shore Bakeries
We visit bakeries mostly around the holidays or when we have guests. Deerfield Bakery is close by. Their cakes are good but sweet. My daughter recently had cupcakes for a party and they were easily forgettable. I agree with other posters that nothing there stands out.
Whole Foods market used to make a very tasty pecan pie and flourless chocolate cake, but as they have grown their recipes have become more mediocre as their prices have risen. The Fresh Market used to have a well made fruit tart but not anymore. Based on some posts here we tried Three Tarts in Northfield. The cupcake was stale and the cookies no different than Deerfield's. They did not have enough pies and cakes on offer to taste, and they didn't have small serving options of these.
Blind Faith cafe has very tasty carrot cake and pretty good flourless chocolate cake. Their vegan line in general is the best we have found so far.
We have lots of get togethers in the last 2 months of the year, so I'm interested in other bakery recommendations in the Northshore area. We don't eat breakfast baked goods so after dinner, celebration and holiday focus helps. Vegan also helps but is not a requirement.
As an afterthought, I like stollen, gingerbread and ethnic holiday baked goods. I recall a couple of places in Palatine from last year. Thoughts on that would be welcome. (By the way, I know Palatine and Arlington Heights are not northshore)
Tags bakery on Central St. in Evanston has been there forever. They make great cakes and they are especially known for their Florentine cookies which are heaven. Vegan? Doubt it.
It sounds like you're looking for sweets, but also in Evanston, is Bennison's Bakery on Davis St that has excellent pastries, but also makes some of the best bread in the area. They've won numerous awards for their bread.
I doubt if any of them are vegan, but you're on the right track at Blind Faith.
I find the cookies at Three Tarts to be far richer than the supermarket-level product at Deerfield Bakery. They also have various tarts and other French-style baked goods (including terrific eclairs with genuine pate a choux and creme patissiere, and great pear tarts with pate sucre) that are much better than anything you'll find at Deerfield. They DO have some smaller pastries, but they sell out many of their baked goods as the day goes on; you'll find a greater selection if you go before their lunch rush. Another outstanding bakery on the North Shore is Gourmet Frog, the carry-out adjunct to Froggy's, the French restaurant in Highwood. Gourmet Frog also has great eclairs, and always has a large number of cakes available by the individual slice. Another outstanding bakery is Gerhard's, in Lake Forest; they have terrific breads AND pastries. These three are IMHO the very best bakeries in the entire Chicago area, and I've found consistently outstanding quality at all three.
Tag's and Bennison's, in Evanston, are both just okay in my experience; nothing is bad, but nothing is all that great, either. For example, the French macaroons and marzipan cake slices at Bennison's have very little almond flavor, and are nowhere near as good as those at Gerhard's. You won't find anything with really good creme patissiere like the eclairs at Three Tarts or Gourmet Frog there, either. Tag's has good plain almond macaroons, but most of the other products there are ordinary - not bad, but not particularly good either. Both are decent if you happen to be in the area, but I wouldn't travel a long distance to go to either one. OTOH if you enjoy baked goods, you really ought to try ALL the bakeries mentioned here, and decide for yourself.
Rose's Bakery in Evanston specializes in gluten-free baked goods, and lists various vegan items on their website. If you're looking for vegan (or gluten-free) options, they're worth checking out.
In the northwest suburbs you ask about, Mont Blanc (in Arlington Heights near Mitsuwa) offers Japanese-French pastries in individual servings, and Jarosch in Elk Grove Village is a more traditional German bakery; neither is amazing but they're both quite passable. On the far side of Barrington is Ambrosia, and I think the quality there is quite good, and it's worth the extra travel.
316 Green Bay Rd., Highwood, IL 60040
Rose's Wheatfree Bakery & Cafe
2901 Central St, Evanston, IL 60201
Mont Blanc Pastry
274 E Algonquin Rd, Arlington Heights, IL 60005
35 S Arlington Heights Rd, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
710 W Northwest Hwy, Barrington, IL 60010
Three Tarts Bakery
301 Happ Rd, Northfield, IL 60093
Gerhard's Elegant European Desserts
720 N Western Ave, Lake Forest, IL 60045
1000 Davis St, Evanston, IL 60201
2010 Central St, Evanston, IL 60201