The 18 Best Bakeries In San Francisco – YES PLEASE!

 April 20, 2017
Posted by jenn

Even for as food-obsessed a city as San Francisco is, we have a surprisingly excellent variety of bakeries and patisseries — some like Craftsman & Wolves creating modern, idiosyncratic treats and riffs on classics, and others like Tartine, Arsicault, and 20th Century Cafe keeping centuries-old traditions alive every day with their world-class confections, breads, and Viennoisserie. We are lucky to be a city where you can not only get a Parisian-quality croissant, but also some of the best focaccia this side of Liguria, and crusty sourdough loaves the likes of which no other city in the country gets to eat. If you’re gluten-averse or militantly Paleo, I pity you for how many of these earthly pleasures you are missing out on in this fair city. But hey, more for the rest of us. — Jay Barmann

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The Russian honey cake at 20th Century Cafe. Photo: Facebook

20th Century Cafe
Pastry chef Michelle Polzine opened up her Hayes Valley cafe five years ago in tribute to the kinds of baked goods she loved the most — traditional indulgences of the Central and Eastern European cafe scenes of the early part of the last century, things like knishes, pierogi, poppyseed babka, linzertortes, and bagels. She’s filled this niche ever since, serving up what’s easily the city’s finest Krasinski torte (a many-layered Russian honey cake), that landed on 7×7’s 100 Things To Eat Before You Die list, as well as seasonally changing specials. Polzine is also, remarkably, gluten-intolerant herself, an issue she only developed well into her career, so she will frequently offer items that are gluten-free, like mohnkuchen, a poppy-seed-based cake layered with jam. — Jay Barmann
198 Gough Street at Oak

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Arsicault’s croissants. Photo: Facebook

Arsicault
Last summer, the fairly new Richmond district bakery Arsicault struck gold with a glowing honor from Bon Appetit, getting named the best new bakery in the country. Immediately there were lines down the block for baker Armando Lacayo croissants, which critic Andrew Knowlton declared were “simultaneously so preposterously flaky it leaves you covered in crumbs, so impossibly tender and buttery on the inside that it tastes like brioche, and so deeply golden that the underside is nearly caramelized.” Lacayo also makes terrific kouign amann, almond croissants, morning buns, and a mean chocolate chip cookie, and if you don’t believe the hype, you can at least acknowledge that a lesser baker probably couldn’t maintain 4.5 stars on Yelp. — Jay Barmann
397 Arguello Boulevard near Clement

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Photo of some of b. patisserie’s delights: Facebook

b. patisserie
Belinda Leong’s Pac Heights patisserie serves perfect macarons, cheesecakes, mousses, and elegant little individual cakes that looks straight out of a Parisian pastry case. She specializes in Viennoiserie, specifically croissants and her signature, buttery kouign ammans, which is like if puff pastry got impregnated by a god. On weekends there’s also two kinds of banana bread, which will make that leaden loaf you once attempted look like roadkill. — Eve Batey
2821 California Street at Divisadero.

Black Jet Baking Co.
Although it’s the newest bakery on this list to score a brick-and-mortar retail location (they opened this month in the former Sandbox/Pinkie’s space on Cortland Ave in Bernal Heights), don’t mistake Black Jet Baking Co. for a newcomer. Many hav sought out baker/owner Gillian Shaw’s delightful confections since she began delivering cookies and grown-up pop tarts in 2010. Black Jet’s philosophy skews toward fun, classic baked goods with a twist: Think fresh, homemade versions of Hostess funny bones, Oreos, and “German Shepherd Devil Dogs.” — Caleb Pershan
839 Cortland Avenue at Gates Street

Butter Love Bakeshop
Nestled in a small storefront on the western end of Balboa Street, Esa Yonn-Brown’s pie and pastry prowess has garnered recognition from the NYT and Serious Eats, but has managed (so far) to avoid the crushing crowds that might impel you to skip some of the other spots on this list. Though pie is their thing (both big ones and tiny, muffin-sized gems), their buns, cookies, and cakes are also binge-worthy treats. They also bake their own delicious bread, which is then sliced and used for fantastic, daily-changing sandwiches like mom never used to make. It’s one of the west side’s hidden gems, a place so good I considered leaving it off this list because I don’t want to share. — Eve Batey
3717 Balboa Street, between 38th and 39th Avenues

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An impressive lineup at Craftsman & Wolves. (Photo: Seek New Travel)

Craftsman & Wolves
Pastry chef William Werner’s modern patisserie is unlike any other you’ll find in the city — or even the country — with an array of unique creations like the matcha snickerdoodle; an Earl Grey, ginger, and blond chocolate scone; and the now locally famous Rebel Within, a savory asiago and green onion muffin with sausage and a whole, runny, soft-boiled egg inside. The operation now has three locations, in the Mission, Bayview, and Nob Hill, offering similar menus, though the fancier box cakes (think violet vanilla cheesecake; and pineapple, pine, lime cake) in the pastry case are only available in the Mission and Nob Hill. Dangerously, C&W can also be found on Caviar and Uber Eats. — Jay Barmann
746 Valencia (at 18th Street), 1643 Pacific Avenue (between Van Ness and Polk), and 1598 Yosemite Avenue (at Keith Street)

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Biscuits like you wouldn’t believe at Devil’s Teeth. Photo: Diana B/Yelp

Devil’s Teeth Baking Company
In my many years in SF, I’ve come to realize that the buttermilk biscuits I took for granted in my home state of Indiana aren’t as easy as they seemed. I’ve had a lot of crappy, Southern wannabe biscuits in this town! But not at Devil’s Teeth, where I can get the kind of buttermilk biscuits my middle-school Home Ec teacher would have awarded an A to. Other standouts include their doughnut muffins (pretty self-explanatory), their monkey bread, and their full range of cookies.— Eve Batey
3876 Noriega Street between 45th and 46th Aves

Heartbaker
At Heartbaker, Former Kokkari and Aqua pastry chef Sybil Johnson is doing some great baking, not the least of which are her Italian doughnuts (bomboloni) which come filled with a variety of seasonal flavors, including amaretto custard, nutella, and rum custard rolled in cinnamon sugar. The bread pudding is also a home run, and the salted caramel brownie is so great I once yelled “get your own!” at my husband when he asked for a bite. They also serve a great brunch (with “real” food) and sport a Wednesday-Friday happy hour,
so it’s a great spot even when you’re craving savory over sweet. — Eve Batey
1408 Clement Street at 15th Avenue

Jane
With three locations: Fillmore Street, Larkin Street, and in that old KFC on a tough stretch of Geary, Jane is rapidly building a little baked goods empire. We’re talking six types of croissants, breads galore, nine-inch layer cakes…and even, I kid you not, a decent-sized menu of baked goods for the gluten free. (I have not tried the latter items, but for even attempting they get my applause.) Founder Amanda Michael turns her house-made breads into great cafe-dining options, as well, with a solid egg sandwich and enough fancy toasts to generate a thousand thinkpieces. — Eve Batey
2123 Fillmore Street, 1881 Geary Boulevard, 925 Larkin Street

Le Marais
An homage to the cafe culture of owner Patrick Ascaso’s native France, Le Marais has made a name for itself as a bakery, bistro, viennoiserie, and patisserie. It’s also a rising empire, with two locations, a third imminent in the Castro, and a recently announced location and production facility in the Lower Nob Hill area. Le Marais replicates the light, leisurely brunches of Paris, and its hearty breads and flaky pastries stand out among the crowd. —Caleb Pershan
2066 Chestnut Street near Steiner Street, 9000 North point Street near Polk Street;
and shortly at Sanchez and 18th

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Photo: Yelp

Liguria Bakery
One of the oldest of old-school bakeries in town, this North Beach institution makes only one thing: focaccia. And it is the best focaccia you will ever eat. They directly supply a few of the neighborhood restaurants — providing, for instance, the bread for all the sandwiches at Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store across Washington Square Park — but otherwise they just make a couple of flavors each day, each sold as a foot-long slab, and they close up shop as soon as they sell out. It’s cash only, but stupidly cheap at just $5.50 per slab, and you’ll want to try to get there early enough before the pizza focaccia sells out — though the regular garlic and rosemary varieties are also heavenly. — Jay Barmann
1700 Stockton Street at Filbert

Marla Bakery
If you’re in the market for homemade english muffins, kickass bread, and a respectable bagel, Outer Richmond standby Marla Bakery has you covered, with a counter just steps from the impressive oven where it all happens. Besides those culinary workhorses, you’ll find a standout dark chocolate chip cookie, a (weekends only) pecan sticky bun worth the eventual trip to the dentist, and savory scones that go beyond the standard. They also make a mean breakfast, serve a cozy and comforting dinner, and their Marla Americano cocktail is one of my favorite drinks in the city. — Eve Batey
3619 Balboa Street between 37th and 28th Avenues

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
Mr. Holmes is the bakehouse the Cruffin built. Its wild success story starts in the Tenderloin, where daily lines still form for that mash-up croissant/muffin treat. The Holmes empire, which seems destined to grow further, has now come to include three SoCal outposts plus one in Seoul. With baked goods as delicious and unexpected (see the root beer float cruffin) as they are photogenic, Mr. Homes’s clean, bright branding has brilliantly capitalized on Instagrammers’ food obsessions. A trip to Mr. Holmes isn’t just a jaunt to a delicious bakery — it’s a social media photo op that will have your followers drooling. — Caleb Pershan
1042 Larkin Street between Post and Hemlock Streets

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Photo courtesy of Neighbor Bakehouse

Neighbor Bakehouse
The husband-and-wife team of Greg and Christine Mindel opened their retail operation in Dogpatch just two years ago, but have been doing a wholesale business for the last five years. They produce some excellent sweet and savory items, including croissants, morning buns, and sauerkraut tarts — and their croissants, especially, can compete with the likes of Tartine and Arsicault. Also don’t miss their more eclectic stuff, like the kimchi toast, and or the chocolate pudding “doughp bun.” — Jay Barmann
2343 Third Street near 20th

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Photo: Yelp

Schubert’s
Another venerable, old-school SF bakery operation, Schubert’s has been in continual operation for over 105 years, having begun business on Fillmore Street and then moved to its present spot in the Inner Richmond in the 1940’s under original owner, German baker Oswald R. Schubert. The place is now under its fourth generation of owners, and Ralph and Lutz Wenzel are responsible for the signature, traditional cheese cakes, mousse cakes, and Swedish Princess Cakes. This is where you go for an excellent sheet cake, or a traditional, whipped cream iced Black Forest cake. And while the ingredients may not all be organic or whatever, you won’t be disappointed with the flavors. — Jay Barmann
521 Clement Street between 6th and 7th Avenues

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Morning buns at Tartine. (Photo: Janice C. /Yelp)

Tartine Bakery
It’s all been said enough times in enough publications before that tourists actually make their way to the Mission just to get in line. The bread is, we admit, fantastic and chewy and delicious. The morning buns are insane. The cakes, cookies, open-faced sandwiches, gougères, croissants, you name it. All of it’s good. Great even. Does anyone like standing in line for things? No. Especially not before coffee. But if you happen by this place and the line isn’t too far out the door, especially before the bread comes out in the late afternoon, just get in it. You know you want it. And it does go pretty fast. — Jay Barmann
600 Guerrero (at 18th Street)

Thorough Bread and Pastry
Michel Suas, who became a head pastry chef in Paris at the tender age of 21, literally wrote the book on bread and pastry, but why read it when you can taste it at Thorough Bread in the Castro/Duboce Triangle. Since 2008, Thorough Bread has been baking its cakes, breads, cookies, and tarts with love and what I suspect is high quality butter in generous quantities (Suas is also a partner in b. patisserie and provides the bread there). A low-key atmosphere and a leafy back patio make Thorough Bread a lovely spot to spend the morning, to say nothing of your entire calorie allowance for the day. — Caleb Pershan
248 Church Street between 15th and Market Streets

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Tout Sweet cake. (Photo: Frankie Frankeny)

Tout Sweet
This menagerie of colorful pastry located in Macy’s in Union Square downsized slightly in February, but it’s as eye-catching as ever. Yigit Pura, the highly pedigreed pastry chef whom you might recall from his Top Chef: Just Desserts win, opened his shop in 2012. Punnily named — tout suite is French for “right away,” and tout also means “all” — Tout Sweet sources its chocolate from San Francisco’s Guittard. While the macarons of every flavor might draw you in, stay for the petits gateaux: tiny, whimsical cakes you’ll be forgiven for not wanting to share. —Caleb Pershan
Macy’s Union Square, Geary Street Entrance, 251 Geary Street
Honorable Mentions:

Acme Bread Co. (Ferry Building)

Boudin Bakery (Macy’s basement, Pier 39, and other locations)

The Golden West (8 Trinity Alley)

La Boulangerie de San Francisco (multiple locations)

La Victoria Bakery (2937 24th Street)

Noe Valley Bakery (4073 24th Street)

Susie Cakes (2019 Chestnut Street)

Taken from SFist

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