Seriously, is there anything more heavenly than hitting a bakery in the morning as your favorite hot pastry or loaf of sourdough is being pulled from an old-world oven? Why hasn’t Gweneth Paltrow put THAT ambrosial aroma in a candle?
We’re going to focus on the top bakeries in the U.S. along the West Coast of the country as East Coast has its own taste and style. If you’ve been to New York, you know how nutty and fanatical the locals get about something as simple as folding a slice of pizza. Foodies are a serious bunch, and we respect that.
When it comes to the top bakeries in the U.S., there are few that can compare to the skill and artistry of the following 5 West Coast establishments – although we’d have to say many come close. From famous artisan breads to delicious pastries, these top bakeries have something for everyone to enjoy.
Tartine Bakery – San Francisco, California
Tartine is considered to be one of the most interesting and innovative bakeries in America. The bakery uses sourdough starter as the foundation for much of their baking, and they also sell their own line of sourdough loaves.
Founded in 2002 by Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt, who were awarded “Best Pastry Chefs in America” by the James Beard Foundation, Tartine Bakery has become one of the most popular bakeries in the United States. Other accolades include Bon Appetit, the New Yorker, Eater, Vogue, Eater SF, Food & Wine, and the New York Times.
They really lay it on the line when it comes to crafting the perfect loaf. Per their website, “A baker reads the weather, the flour, the levain, and yesterday’s baked bread before starting to mix.” That’s going the extra mile.
Although you can have your artisan bread shipped anywhere in the U.S., they now have so many locations worldwide you should be able to enjoy their baked goods right out of the wood-burning oven.
Ken’s Artisan Bakery – Portland, Oregon
Ken’s Artisan is a Portland, Oregon-based bakery that specializes in cakes. The bakery was founded in 2014 by Ken and his wife, Holly. Ken’s Artisan is known for its creatively designed cakes, which have been featured in magazines and on television.
Ken Forkish pretty much wrote the book — Flour Water Salt Yeast — on modern American bread. After many printings, it’s as relevant as ever. So much complexity in such a simple recipe. That’s the sign of a true artisan.
This top bakery also offers wood-fired pizzas which encompass long fermented dough, hand-stretched mozzarella, Italian tomatoes, and excellent toppings. With perfectly blistered crust, Ken’s artisan pizzas rank right up there with our other top west coast pizzas.
With that visual in mind, it’s not a stretch to see why this is one of our top bakeries in the U.S. Apparently, others agree including national and international attention, having been named one of the best bakeries in the country by Food & Wine, Sunset Magazine, New York Post, and USA Today.
Izola – San Diego, California
So much to taste, so little time when it comes to Izola making the list as one of our top bakeries. And their story is as scrumptious as their Tahitian Vanilla Knots.
With a simple idea to dish out love with a little more taste and substance, a tiny bakery was born perched in the loft above a photo studio (they refer to it as a speakeasy for sourdough). In their early beginnings, they would lower their delectable delights down to customers in a basket from the window.
You can pre-order sweets or breads (recommended as they usually sell out) or you can stop by on bake days to order your hot baked goods at the counter, tour the kitchen, and check out the bake loft, a historic converted photo studio. How fun is that?
Proof Bakery – Atwater Village, California
Proof was opened in 2010 by chef/owner Na Young Ma in a trendy part of Los Angeles called Atwater Village. With a pop-up barista operating behind the counter, Proof quickly became the darling of Los Angeles with their creamy croissants and sandwiches on freshly baked batons. Hot tip – these start selling at 11:30 and are usually gone by noon.
The small storefront is easy to spot as there’s always a crowd congregated outside waiting their turn for the tasty treats churned out by the now employee-owned bakery. Kudos to Na Young for paying it forward and making Proof Bakery one of our top bakeries in the U. S.
Proof’s long list of acknowledgments includes Best Bakery, Los Angeles Magazine, The 16 Best Bakeries in America, Time Out and Best Pastry Chefs 2013, Tasting Table.
A little fun fact, that unknown barista behind the counter, Yeekai Lim started and now owns Intelligentsia Coffee, another hot ticket in the LA food scene with locations coast to coast.
Arsicault Bakery – San Francisco, California
Another San Francisco staple, Arsicault Bakery is one of the best bakeries in America because it combines the best of everything: excellent baked goods, and a friendly and inviting atmosphere.
This French bakery maintains a European flare with its yummy treats including various croissants, shortbread cookies, and quiche. We think it would be criminal if you walked out of Arsicault without one of their legendary Kouign-amann pastries. The very name lets you know this sweet butter cake is derived from a lineage of royalty.
Helmed by owner/baker Armando Lacayo, you’ll need to get there early as they sell out of the pastries quickly, but waiting at the door has its perks – you’ll soak in the unearthly aromas of their freshly baked buttery goods. No wonder Bon Appétit called Arsicault the best new bakery in the country.
Finding the top bakeries in the U.S.is no easy task, even when we narrow it down to the West Coast. With so many local bakeries vying for the title, it can be difficult to know where to start your search. However, we made the sacrifice of adding on a few extra pounds just to make your life easier. Hey, that’s how we roll.