The crème de la crème—Chicago’s 8 best bakeries

By Nicole Schnitzler

If there’s one thing we should be thankful for in the Chicago food landscape, it’s the neighborhood bakeries—and the fleets they all employ. Rising at the crack of dawn, diligently following recipes on too little sleep, and waking up the next day to do it all over again, these saviors can be counted on for the perfect accompaniment to your café au lait or your morning commute—not to mention birthdays, graduations, and wedding days. Here are eight of our very favorite bakeries in Chicago.

Market fresh and French-inspired at Floriole
Husband-and-wife team Mathieu and Sandra Holl spent five years gaining a loyal following for their rustic French pastries at Chicago’s Green City Market. When they grew into a brick-and-mortar business in 2010, their menu selection followed suit, expanding to include favorites like olive oil granola and gâteau Basque, an almond butter cake filled with pastry cream and seasonal fruit.

Benevolent baking at Baker & Nosh
After seven years of teaching at Le Cordon Bleu, baker Bill Millholland co-founded this Uptown spot with one simple goal: to bring back the neighborhood bakery. Ever since 2012 the team has been doing just that, be it through goodwill—like hosting an annual PAWS adoption event—or the goods themselves: Hello, brioche rolls and monkey bread.

A baked goods one stop shop at Baker Miller
Owners Dave and Megan Miller know a thing or two about sweet fixes—after all, they’re also the team behind the brilliance of pastry phenomenon Bang Bang Pie in Logan Square. Nowadays they’re focusing on this bakery-meets-millhouse, where they crank out house-made favorites on the daily, from sourdough cinnamon rolls to freshly milled oatmeal.

Quirky and delicious fun at West Town Bakery
This bakery is known for its commitment to local ingredients, and for the fun case-fillers they create with them. Think cake balls—bite-sized desserts in flavors spanning lemon rosemary to red velvet—and the Doughssant, the ultimate doughnut-croissant hybrid. You can’t go wrong with any of the flavors, but if you’re looking to go big, try the s’mores—a surefire crowd pleaser.

West Town Bakery

Bittersweet Bakery is a neighborhood icon
This European-style bakery is going on 25 years this spring, making it a no-brainer when you’re seeking out pastries done right. Award-winning pastry chef Judy Contino founded the shop way back when, and today it’s best known for its cakes, including the vanilla bean cheesecake and the flourless chocolate mousse cake.

European flair at Alliance Bakery
Pastry chef Peter Rios has no shortage of experience in the sweets department—prior to starting his own venture, he trained extensively in Europe and served as the executive pastry chef at some of Chicago’s best-known venues, including the Fairmont Hotel and the Art Institute. As such, you’ll find excellence in everything at this Wicker Park pastry shop. Its custom cake designs in particular have garnered a reputation from coast to coast.

Comfort food in old-school environs at Lovely Bake Shop
Once you enter the doors of this Wicker Park café, the name will make perfect sense: Think old-timey décor and tastefully mismatched furniture. Husband-and-wife team Bob and Gina Hartwig met while working and training (respectively) at the French Pastry School, so you can count on first-rate everything, but don’t miss the almond croissants, which are the house specialty.

From savory to sweet at Scone City
The name says it all at this Blue Line commuter pit stop, which bakes up nearly 20 different kinds of piping hot scones every morning. As for house favorites, it’s a savory-sweet tie: the breakfast scone, with egg, bacon, and sharp white Cheddar, and the blueberry-lemon, filled with fresh berries and sealed in a tangy lemon glaze.

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