Los Angeles might be a city full of transplants from New York, Paris, San Francisco and other more bread-centric parts of the world but the days of hearing those pretentious voices proclaiming “You can’t find good bread in Los Angeles!” are over.
It’s surprising how many excellent bakeries have opened in the past few years considering the current fear of gluten and demonization of carbohydrates in a city that has a reputation of valuing appearances above all else.
Of course the truth is that people love their bread and baked goods, and in the final accounting we all know it is love that conquers fear.
With that in mind, let’s explore some of the best places around L.A. to get your hands on delicious breads, cakes, pastries, and more.
(List numbered for reference, in no particular order)
Try having brunch at Republique without filling up on baked goods before your eggs have even arrived to your table. It’s impossible because pastry chef Margarita Manzke’s exhibition of treats like mini almond brown butter cakes, giant cookies, storybook perfect chocolate cake, cinnamon sugar bomboloni, breads and tarts is so glorious, it seems appropriate to order everything in sight.
2. Milo and Olive
For more of Zoe Nathan Loeb’s creations, head to Milo and Olive for wood-fired pizzas and rustic pastries. The baked goods are a slight departure from those available at Huckleberry. Stop in for breakfast to sample an assortment of breads like farro and rye, a fruit and nut loaf and whole wheat potato bread. Or opt for the homemade bagels, croissants or breakfast pizza with house sausage and farm egg.
If you make the trip to Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb’s Santa Monica Bakery Huckleberry, there might be a line in which you’ll have to wait. If you do, you won’t regret it because Zoe’s legendary pastries like house-made English muffins, artisan breads, rustic baguettes, country boule, pan de mie, daily flatbreads and cinnamon sugar brioche are worth every second of it.
4. Copenhagen Pastry
LA’s favorite Danish pastry shop has two locations. Both the original in Culver City and second in Pasadena offer fresh-baked flaky pastries. Shopping at Copenhagen is a treat in and of itself as the staff happily gives shoppers samples to aide in any indecision that might come about while deciding between the kringle or spandauer.
Speciality cakes, Cuban sandwiches, flauta, meat pies, refugiato (guava and cheese pastry) and a myriad of other delights are available at the decades old Cuban bakery and cafe. Portos now boasts three locations in Downey, Burbank and Glendale.
6. Lodge Bread Co.
Just when we didn’t think Culver City could get any more food-centric, last summer Lodge Bread Company arrived. Now, chefs-turned-bakers Alex Phaneuf (Atelier Crenn, Morimoto Napa) and Or Amsalam (Spago) are baking some of the best bread in the city. Stop in for whole wheat toast with avocado and radish or country loaf with cashew butter. Sweets like cinnamon rolls, cookies and cakes are also available to munch on with coffee. You’ll want to buy a loaf of bread to take home too. But don’t plan on sharing it with anyone. Better yet, get two.
7. Proof Bakery
Proof in Atwater Village is the best kind of bakery: equal parts high-end third-wave coffee shop and low-key neighborhood bakeshop. The great coffee is enough to draw a crowd. But those waiting in line to get their caffeine fix are likely to be lured en route by the pastry display. Baker Na Young Ma’s unpretentious spread of sweets like scones, pain au pommes, lemon verbena shortbread and lovely cakes decorate the adorable bakery. Savory items like quiche and sandwiches on house-made mini baguettes are perfect. Everything is baked in the back room, including Ma’s famous croissants, which are decidedly the best in town.
What sets Gjusta, Gjelina’s younger sister spin-off restaurant apart from any other bakery in LA? The newish Venice cafe invented Baklava croissants, for one. And in addition to being one of the coolest new places to grab breakfast, Gjusta makes some of crispiest on the outside, soft and stretchy on the inside baguettes in town.
9. Bouchon Bakery
For the most bourgeoise boulangerie head to Beverly Hills. There Thomas Keller’s Bouchon is baking artisanal breads, traditional French desserts, viennoiserie, confections, hand-made pastries, tarts and cookies in house daily.
10. The Sycamore Kitchen
The pastry display at Karen and Quinn Hatfield’s La Brea lunch spot is so mouthwatering you might forget about lunch and just end up eating an array of seasonal donuts, cakes, muffins and a salted caramel pecan babka roll.
11. Valerie Confections
Valerie is known for her chocolates. But the famous confectioner makes delicious baked goods too. A variety of classic decadent cakes, hand pies and pastries are available at all of their locations in Echo Park, South Silver Lake and Grand Central Market in Downtown LA.
12. The Larder Baking Company
Since 2008, Nathan Dakdouk has been making the delicious breads served at Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne’s restaurants Lucques, A.O.C. and Tavern. For several years, the talented Venezuelan baked artisan loaves out of a small bakery on the west side. Now with The Larder Baking Company, Dakdouk’s breads are available for wholesale all over the city and retail at The Larder at Burton Way, Maple Drive, Tavern and LAX.
13. Cake Monkey Bakery
Cake Monkey provides far better versions of the store-bought kind of baked goods we craved in our childhood. Chocolate, vanilla cream-filled cakes coated with bittersweet chocolate, and a variety of fancy cakes and pies are available for order or purchase at various retail locations in the city.
14. Joan’s on Third
Joan’s on Third is a busy gourmet marketplace that for years has been pleasing West Hollywood lunchers with its Chinese chicken salad, housemade pickles and omelets. But what makes a lot of the food at Joan’s on Third stand out is the in-house bakery. The very popular ham and cheese Ficelle sandwich, for example, is served on a house made baguette.
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15. Euro Pane
Macarons seem to be popping up everywhere lately. The once rare and opulent Parisian treat is now available at mall kiosks. We’re not complaining. But we do suggest heading to Euro Pane Bakery in Pasadena for the most delicious and biggest ones in town.
So what’s your favorite bakery in Los Angeles? Let us know in the comments below!