San Franciscans know good bread. While many tourists might go searching for a sourdough bread bowl filled with clam chowder soup at Fisherman’s Wharf, the Bay Area’s gluten connoisseurs know that the city’s water-and-flour mecca can be found in the Mission District at Tartine Bakery & Cafe, where pastry chef Elisabeth Prueitt and her husband, celebrated baker Chad Robertson, pull rustic loaves of bread, as well as cookies, cakes, confections and tarts from the oven.
Marla Bakery is located in Outer Richmond. (Photo by Yuichi Sakuraba)
The acclaim garnered by Tartine stems from the bakery’s return to the basics. Robertson uses two main ingredients, flour and water, to craft his renowned bread. With no additives, cheeses, or spices, Robertson’s simplified approach to the culinary art has reintroduced San Franciscans to a staple food they thought they knew so well. Using natural fermentation and an assortment of grains, from ancient to sprouted, Robinson limits himself to the most primitive method of making bread, which allows distinct natural flavors to reveal themselves during the fermentation and baking process. Even nearly 15 years after opening, a long line can be expected at Tartine as faithful patrons and tourists alike are drawn to the wafting smell of a freshly baked bounty.
But great bread does not stop at Tartine—delicious dough can be found all around the city. Whether searching for sweet treats or savory sensations, nearly every neighborhood in San Francisco plays host to its own beloved bakery.
Tartine is a renowned San Francisco bakery. (Photo by Eric Wolfinger)
1. In North Beach, San Francisco’s Little Italy neighborhood, stop in for a traditional pastry at Stella Pastry & Cafe. Established in 1942, this quaint shop is a lovely reminder of Little Italy’s bright history. Sit at one of the small tables in front of the cafe to enjoy an after-dinner espresso and dessert, along with some excellent people-watching on Columbus Avenue. (446 Columbus Ave.; 415-986-2914)
2. Recently named by Bon Appétit magazine as bakery of the year for its flaky croissants, the small Arsicault Bakery in the Inner Richmond neighborhood also serves an array of sweet, mouthwatering masterpieces. (397 Arguello Blvd.; 415-750-9460)
3. Possibly San Francisco’s most delightful pastry shop, Miette charms with delicate sweet bites that taste as good as they look. Beyond petite pastries, cake stands and vintage dessert dishes can be found in stock. Periodically, baking and cookie decorating classes are held at either the Ferry Building or Hayes Valley locations. (Ferry Building: 1 Ferry Building; 415-837-0300) (Hayes Valley: 449 Octavia St.; 415-626-6221)
Classes are sometimes held at Miette. (Courtesy of Miette)
4. A jewel of the Inner Sunset located just two blocks from Golden Gate Park, Arizmendi Bakery is a worker-owned co-op that specializes in producing artisan breads and gourmet pizza. Fill a bag with savory treats before heading into the park to explore the nearby Japanese Tea Garden, de Young Museum or the California Academy of Sciences. (1331 Ninth Ave.; 415-566-3117)
5. Marla Bakery Restaurant is a picture-perfect find in the Outer Richmond area. Try a scone made with dry Jack cheese, caramelized onion and black pepper, or indulge in savory galette or quiche, which are only served on weekends. No matter when you visit, be sure to enjoy a pastry and glass of Champagne on the bakery’s charming patio. (3619 Balboa St.; 415-742-4379)
6. Since 1983, The Acme Bread Co. has been baking robust loaves that are served at many of San Francisco’s favorite restaurants. Though primarily a wholesale bakery, Acme does have two locations serving up over 100 different products. While the main hub is across the bay in Berkeley, the bread maker also has a shop in the Ferry Building. (1 Ferry Building; 415-288-2978)
More San Francisco Bakeries
7. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse (1042 Larkin St.; 415-829-7700)
8. B. Patisserie (2821 California St.; 415-440-1700)
9. Craftsman and Wolves (Caw Valencia: 746 Valencia St.; 415-913-7713)
– Briana Verdugo