Bakeries and pastry shops across the country draw us in daily with alluring, obscuring clouds of sidewalk flour floating from their kitchens, the early scent of baking bread, and the temptation of a sinful diet-busting donut. The French influences of Old Country classics in the hands of renowned bread and pastry chefs break the walls of our New Year’s resolutions and sit us in their cafes with an espresso and chocolate eclair waiting before our anxious hands. The following are the best of the best with breads, pastries, cakes, and other assorted sweet and savory delicacies that you know you want to try on your next culinary student tour to these cities.
Tartine Bakery - San Francisco
Several years running, Tartine Bakery has been named the country’s best bakery for its specialty and classic breads. These crusted beauties are only available certain days of the week so look beforehand or take it on faith and try the Ancient Grains bread, walnut, olive, or the traditional country white bread. Tartine’s chefs aren’t one-trick ponies though. Their pastries, cookies, breakfast pastries, and hot-pressed sandwiches make this a bakery for all tastes. Try the frangipane tart, a pain au chocolat, or the Cocoa Nib Rocher cookie while you’re walking through San Fran.
Macrina Bakery - Seattle
Like Tartine, Macrina Bakery earned their reputation as a bread bakery with 30 standard breads made in-house. Also like Tartine, Macrina has more than one specialty up its sleeve. The rustic European atmosphere fuels the creative juices of Macrina’s chefs to produce vintage sweets like French macaroons, Italian mezzaluna cookies, Florentine tarts, and modern takes such as the Nutella brioche, whisper cake, and Rick’s chocolate apricot espresso cookie.
Salty Tart - Minneapolis
Established in 2008 by a Bon Appetit “Best Pastry Chef,” the Salty Tart bakery was built on the desire for freedom of creation with a rustic, updated vintage feel. This bakery accommodates to your tastes without compromising that creative liberty. Build your own cakes and cupcakes from a decadent menu of cake flavors, fillings, and frostings including gingerbread, coconut, seasonal fruit compote filling or chocolate/fruit mousse, topped with caramel buttercream, fudge, or white chocolate mousse. The possibilities are as delicious as they are endless. Also try their buttery award-winning brioche roll, the chocolate chewy meringue cookie, and the triple ginger cookie while you’re at it.
Momofuku Milk Bar - NYC
With six locations all over New York City, you’re bound to be in the area of deliciousness. Stop by their Garment District pop-up or their SoHo cafe to try one of their 13 party cakes. The sides are left unfrosted so you can see the beautiful, sugary sweet layers with flavors like mint cookies and cream, pistachio, strawberry lemon, and birthday with confetti flakes. Momofuku makes soft serve and shakes (including fancy shakes) along with their blueberry and cream cookies, cake truffles, and crack pie which is said to be as addicting as it sounds.
Maison Kayser - NYC
Eris Kayser, the shop’s founder and chef, first established himself with a traditional French boulangerie in Paris back in 1996. Today he has bakeries in 13 countries with soon to be eight locations in New York City including one on 5th Avenue. Kayser’s philosophy is a simple one, everything is mixed and baked on-site, all day long. This Parisian boulangerie bakes traditional viennoiseries like croissants, brioche, and pain au chocolat, sinfully sweet raspberry tarts topped with French macarons, madeleines, chouquettes, and financiers. You don’t want to miss out on the Adagio, a dark chocolate mousse cake with a spicy passion fruit center or their sweet and savory loaves of bread.
Flour Bakery + Cafe - Boston
If you’re going to be in the Boston area, peek into one of their four locations and get hooked on their chewy, gooey cookies, fresh bread sandwiches, and gluten free options for those with allergies and a sweet tooth. Their breakfast pastry menu is killer with pecan topped, glazed sticky buns, tea cakes, spice cakes, croissants, and more. Whether you’re in the mood for a meal or a midday snack, Flour has what you never knew you always wanted. Mother’s Day would be the perfect opportunity to try the chocolate truffle tart topped with violets and pansies or be selfish and hide a box of meringue clouds to yourself. No one has to know.
Floriole Cafe & Bakery - Chicago
The last bakery on this list is a tough contender with the best of them. With one location just off of Lincoln Park on Webster Avenue, Floriole’s European pastries and crisp baguettes have been drawing in the crowds since they were just a small booth in the Green City Market. Now you can enjoy a buttery, flaky croissant and espresso, French clafoutis or the pot de creme, a pumpkin tea cake, or their gooey chocolate cookies. The bakery also sells French style candies and caramels online including pate de fruit and grapefruit Campari.
When you’re walking through Brooklyn, Los Angeles, or Chicago and that breathtaking aroma wafts through the streets, causing you to turn and look into the storefront array with shelf upon shelf of pastries, we know you want to stop in a try at least one goodie. Why not indulge a little when you’re touring the city? It’ll brighten your day and we guarantee it’ll make walking a little easier when you’re focused on that sticky bun glaze that’s now coating your face.