Answers from Our Experts (2)
When it comes to the best bakeries in San Francisco, it really depends on what kind of baked goods you are seeking. For bread, my favorite spot is Acme Bread Company. Their baguettes are sold at local grocery stores and markets, but their flagship store is at the Ferry Building. Other bakeries that make exceptional sourdough, which is a specialty native to San Francisco, are Boudin Bakery and Tartine Bakery. Boudin is known for their creation of the famed San Francisco bread bowl (for clam chowder) while Tartine's daily loaves of sourdough are so coveted by locals they must be ordered three days in advance.
For French pastries, you can't beat La Boulange. Although there are several locations around the city, the best one is found on Pine Street in Pacific Heights. Pick up exceptional macarons or delicate tarts. Specialty's Cafe, a local chain in downtown San Francisco, is known for their massive and delicious cookies. For other baked goods like birthday cakes, you can't go wrong with Miette. Their store at the Ferry Building has a delightful selection of small cakes and cupcakes. For specialty pastries like Italian amaretti cookies or Swedish Princess Cake, Victoria Pastry in North Beach is your best bet.
Say the words "best bakery" and "San Francisco", and the next word that always comes to mind is Tartine. The Mission district bakery and cafe really got the ball rolling when it came to artisanal French-style pastries made with care and creativity. Brave the lines that still ring the bakery at busy times and try one of their morning buns, an almond croissant, bread pudding or maybe a crunchy meringue. Or if you're there at lunch time, try a croque monsieur on a slice of their levain bread followed by a slice of the lemon meringue cake layered with subtle dark caramel and topped with a fril of bruléed meringue. I'm also fond of Miette, for its pretty old fashioned pastel candy store decor and the delicious macarons. But Miette's showstopper for me is the ice cream sandwich with dark chocolate ice cream and deep cocoa wafers — it's one of the best $5 food experiences in the Bay Area.