Babka, breads, and breakfast muffins—7 SF bakeries that will rock your world

By Maryse Chevriere

When it comes to showing their love for great pastry and baked goods, San Franciscans have at least one consistent way of making their affection clear: getting in line. If that’s what it takes to get their hands on the city’s best loaf of bread or oh-so-hot-right-now croissant, then they’ll get in line early, often, and (seemingly) with a shocking amount of patience and determination. Below are seven favorite bakeries worth the sweet reward at the end of the queue.

We’re willing to bet anyone two country loaves, a lemon cream tart, and four morning buns that Tartine lands on the “top five best San Francisco bakeries” list of every food-obsessed SF’er you’ll meet. What is there to say? Chad Roberston and Elisabeth Prueitt’s Mission bakery is the real deal—a modern institution that delivers quality, craft-baked goods. Order: Everything.

The Mill
How do you not expect greatness from someone who literally shares a last name with his chosen profession? Josey Baker is the self-taught artisan behind the much-lauded breads coming out of this airy Divisadero bakery and café. As the name suggests, grains are milled in-house, contributing to the exquisite quality of these loaves, of which the Dark Mountain Rye and classic country bread are easy favorites. Meanwhile, The Mill’s Adventure Bread is a gluten-free loaf that anyone will enjoy.

20th Century Cafe
For the sweet taste of old world charm, there is no better spot than this darling little Hayes Valley cafe and bakery. Inspired by early 20th century pastries from Vienna, Prague, and Budapest, chef Michelle Polzine has made this homey, open-kitchen spot a temple to the delicacies of yore: Linzertorte, Russian honey cake, and poppyseed babka.

b. patisserie
Fine dining–trained pastry chef Belinda Leong and San Francisco Baking Institute founder Michel Suas have made quite the name for themselves with this lauded Pac Heights bakery, which has become known for its tempting displays of sweet eye candy. Be sure to snag a handful of mind-melting macarons and cakes but whatever you do, don't miss their signature kouign-amann, a Breton pastry that is basically a muffin-shaped croissant with a caramelized sugar crust.

A small, worker-owned co-op bakery in the Mission that ranks among the city’s best? So San Francisco, right? Passersby must dodge the line of regulars picking up freshly made loaves and choosing from a rotating selection of baked goods at this no-frills Valencia shop. The lavender shortbread and peanut butter cookie are particular favorites, though the real pros are sure not to leave without a slice of the house-made pizza, featuring their own sourdough and seasonal toppings.

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
The legions of sweet tooths lining up to get “baked in San Francisco” (as the Tenderloin bakery’s tagline goes) are neither dazed nor confused—this is where you go to get the good stuff. Owner Aaron Caddel’s less-than-two-year-old spot has quickly earned a devoted fan base thanks to effortlessly Instagrammable creations like the Cruffin, a muffin tin–molded croissant that’s dusted in sugar and filled with flavored pastry cream. (Aka: The West Coast answer to NYC’s Dominique Ansel Cronut craze.) The secret, of course, is that these delectable Franken-pastries taste even better than they photograph.

Craftsman and Wolves
At this sleek modern bakery (now with two locations in SF), minimalist design offers a crisp backdrop for the impeccably artistic sweet creations on spotlight, encased like jewels behind glass. Chef-owner William Werner has garnered plenty of acclaim for his creative confections—the Faux Reese’s Cube, with black IPA cake and peanut–cocoa nib mousse, or violet-vanilla cheesecake. And as amazing as those are, part of the charm of this place is that it does more than just looks-too-good-to-eat desserts. After all, their signature savory item is a creation called the Rebel Within, a hearty, sausage-studded breakfast muffin shaped around a soft-cooked egg, served with a DIY tube of Tabasco salt. In other words: Your perfect hangover cure-all.

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