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Why: Erick Schat’s Bakkery in Bishop is California’s bread basket. About four hours from Los Angeles, the old Dutch bakery is a must-stop on the half-day ride into the Eastern Sierra. A travel touchstone for generations, Schat’s famed sheepherder bread was developed in 1938 to please Basque farmers who missed the bread of their homeland. Almost 80 years later, stopping for a loaf of the hand-shaped bread remains a California tradition. Oh, and don’t forget the chocolate macarons.
What: Schat’s big bakery is the focal point of a Main Street that features no-frills bars and fishing tackle shops. The bakery/deli offers sandwiches and pastries for the road for travelers heading to Mammoth Lakes or Yosemite. A beautiful city park across the street allows for impromptu picnics and a chance to stretch your legs.
The magic? The Sierra snowmelt that filters into the groundwater, and eventually into the famed breads. Stone-ground flour also is a key ingredient, and pecans and other nuts are provided by local growers.
The place is so popular that parking can be a little tricky, but there are usually spots at the far end of the lot. Inside, lines can be long. You can be in and out in a flash by passing up the long lines in front and paying at secondary registers farther back in the store.
While the sheepherder bread is the go-to delicacy, the fresh sourdough and apple tarts are popular as well. The feel-good vibe of this old European-style bakery is one of the joys of any Western road trip.
Where: 763 N. Main St., Bishop, 267 miles north of downtown Los Angeles
How much: Cookies and pastries from a couple of dollars, sheepherders bread $4.35
Info: Schat’s Bakery