Sourdough is just the start. From that foundation, the city of San Francisco has built a reputation for divine breaded treats, be it croissants, egg tarts, morning buns or entire loaves that can be found nowhere else. The city’s best bakeries come in all shapes and sizes, from some of the most famous in the world to holes-in-the-wall that have risen like well-proofed bread to local acclaim through word of mouth. Here’s where to find seven of the best bakeries in San Francisco.
Why you’re here: You’re a devotee of the bakery’s famed cookbook, or you caught a fresh-baked whiff while walking the Mission and followed it to its source.
What you’re ordering: Once a neighborhood bakery, Tartine has lately dominated the global baked goods scene, ushering in a new era of bready delights. What this means is that there’s really no wrong way to order. The sweet and citrusy morning buns have long been a fan favorite, but any of the tarts — lemon or banana cream or otherwise — will satisfy the sweetest of tooths. Might as well stock up for lunch with a savory sourdough sandwich so you can avoid getting back in line — it’s usually a long one.
Why you’re here: You’re craving croissants comparable with those found in Paris.
What you’re ordering: Probably croissants, especially of the almond variety. It’s said the owner spent two decades honing the recipe. The rich, Breton-style kouign-amann is another popular option, as are the non-almond croissants. If you happen to be downtown, look for their second location on McAllister.
Why you’re here: After shopping in Union Square, nothing restores the spirit like French pastries and strong coffee.
What you’re ordering: The Fraisier cake is a perfect pairing of vanilla and strawberry — delicious if you can stand to destroy an edible work of art. This is one of those places that helps define San Francisco as America’s most European city.
6 Essential Breakfast Spots in San FranciscoIncluding a classic diner, toast mecca, Southern comfort purveyor and more
Why you’re here: Someone smart told you that incredible Asian cuisine can be found beyond the borders of Chinatown, and a Hong Kong bakery sounds like the best way to explore.
What you’re ordering: A pineapple bun, with its yummy, crispy top, is obviously essential. Get it stuffed with chocolate marshmallow butter, matcha mochi or guava butter — there is no wrong way to go. This Irving Street bakery also serves a pudding baguette, which is a crème brûlée pudding baked into a baguette. It’s truly one of a kind in San Francisco.
Why you’re here: On the shortlist of absolutely essential San Francisco eats is The Rebel Within, a Scotch egg-like concoction found only at this restaurant.
What you’re ordering: A soft-cooked egg expertly fitted inside a pork sausage, flavored with scallions and Parmesan-Asiago: behold The Rebel Within. This acclaimed dish is rich, flavorful and essentially perfect. One thing it’s not is the only thing on the menu, so be sure to explore the rest of what this patisserie has to offer. A rose garden stone or a bubbles and berries cloud offer the perfect sweetness to balance out the Rebel’s savoriness.
Why you’re here: A loaf of one of 30 different varieties of bread.
What you’re ordering: There’s something for everyone here — even the gluten-free. Danish rye? They have it. Sesame whole wheat? You bet. Besides fantastic breads, Jane’s also bakes up a killer croissant and serves delicious avocado toast.
Why you’re here: San Francisco’s best focaccia is served at this 112-year-old counter-serve restaurant, and you want a slice of it.
What you’re ordering: Keep it simple with the garlic rosemary or go wild by adding mushrooms and jalapeños. Whatever you pick, it’ll be worthwhile and enhanced by the Italian-American surrounds. This spot is only open in the morning, and there’s a chance that certain flavors will be sold out closer to closing time. So if there’s a particular variety calling your name, be sure to stop by early.
Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.