(Christina House / For The Times)
Roan Mills bakery.(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse.(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)
Baguette and country bread displayed at Bread Lounge in downtown L.A.(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Lodge Bakery.(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)
Village Bakery.(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)
Pastry display at the Sycamore Kitchen.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Neon sign at Superba Food + Bread.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles T)
Seed bakery.(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)
Chef Jason Neroni stands in the doorway to the Rose Cafe in Venice.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Rockenwagner bakery.(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)
Baguette with butter at Republique restaurant.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Porto’s Bakery & Cafe in Glendale.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Pitchoun bakery.(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)
Milo and Olive bakery.(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)
McCall’s bakery.(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)
Na Young Ma, right, chef and owner of Proof Bakery in Atwater Village.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Pastry chef Cecilia Leung with her creations for Lincoln in Pasadena.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
Larder at Tavern.(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)
La Monarca bakery.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
La Brea Bakery.(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Copenhagen Pastry bakery.(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)
Clark Street Bread.(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)
Bub and Grandma’s bakery.(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)
Tasty items at Bottega Louie.
(Christina House / For The Times)
Cake at 85°C Bakery Cafe.(85°C Bakery Cafe)
The bread scene in Los Angeles, unlike in the bakery towns of San Francisco and Paris, tends to be inconstant, to go in waves — or rises, if you will. If the first rise was centered in Culver City’s Helms Bakery, whose bread trucks ran from 1931 to the late ’60s, then the second was Nancy Silverton’s La Brea Bakery, which opened in 1989 next to the late restaurant Campanile and which Silverton sold in 2001.
The current rise is more of a patchwork of decidedly smaller bakeries and restaurants, many of which have lately been experimenting with locally grown and milled grain, even milling their own flour on site. And another big rise may be on the horizon, with baker Chad Robertson’s hugely ambitious new Tartine Manufactory set to open downtown sometime later this year. While those engines and deck ovens fire up, here’s a list of L.A. bakeries for when the need for a crisp baguette, a whole grain boule, a flaky croissant or a French canelé or Jerusalem bagel hits.
Venice to Culver City
Karen Hansen opened her first Danish pastry shop in Culver City in 2012 — she now has a second shop in Pasadena — as a way to bring the traditional baked goods of her native Denmark to her adopted hometown. What this looks like: a cozy, minimalist white-and-orange-decorated marzipan palace. Hansen’s cases are filled with pastries that are mostly filled with the almond paste, both cookies and Danishes, as well as larger cakes. And during the holidays, she has beribboned marzipan pigs, a traditional Danish treat.
Breads: Excellent loaves of traditional Danish rye.
Pastries: Napoleon hats, kranse cakes, kringle cakes, coffee breads, cinnamon rolls, Spandauer and other pastries.
Coffee: LAMill coffee, ground and then brewed in a drip machine.
Where: 11113 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 839-8900, www.copenhagenpastry.com, and a second location in Pasadena.
Opened in October 2014, Gjusta is the bakery, deli and casual-food-on-the-patio spot from chef Travis Lett and the folks who brought you Gjelina. The first thing you see when you walk in the doors, other than the permanent crowd, are the stacks of flour from Central Milling that look like they were installed by the Army Corps of Engineers for some weather emergency. Cases in a long row are filled with pastries, the shelves with bread from the open kitchen and bakery. The baked goods are terrific, and also include bialys and bagels, which are a pretty good reason to get as much of the outstanding smoked fish as you can manage.
Breads: Excellent baguettes (plain, also sometimes buckwheat and black olive), pumpernickel, Pullman multigrain, seeded rye sourdough, whole grain miche, and a lot more — Gjusta has one of the very best and most diverse selections of bread in town. And if you’re there early, see if they still have babkas, which sell out every morning for very good reason.
Pastries: Croissants, cakes, scones, biscuits, brownies, Danishes, pain au chocolate, carrot cake and seasonally-specific fruit galettes.
Coffee: The coffee is from Sightglass Coffee, a San Francisco roastery, and espresso drinks are pulled from a La Marzocco.
Where: 320 Sunset Ave., Venice, (310) 314-0320, www.gjusta.com
Lodge’s baker-owners Alexander Phaneuf and Or Amsalam have been having a good 2017. First they made the semifinalist round for this year’s James Beard Award for Outstanding Baker, then in March they reopened their Culver City bakery, which they’ve expanded to include a Rosito Bisani wood-burning pizza oven and a beer and wine menu. The larger space gives them more room to bake the remarkable loaves of whole-grain, long-fermented, high-hydration bread that they bake very dark, in the old European tradition. Yeah, they make a fantastic plate of avocado toast, some pretty great pizza and have a menu that now includes soup, breakfasts and other dishes, but you’re here for the incredible loaves of bread.
Bread: Hard red country, seeded country, whole grain, ancient grain, seeded rye. (No baguettes, sorry.)
Pastries: Cookies, cakes and giant sourdough, whole grain cinnamon rolls the size of tea saucers.
Coffee: Graceland and Big City, on an Elektra machine.
Where: 11918 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, (424) 384-5097, www.lodgebread.com
Röckenwagner Bakery Café
Before he became known for his outstanding pretzels, German-born chef Hans Röckenwagner was maybe best known for his white asparagus dishes at his long-closed Venice restaurant, Röckenwagner. These days, the chef and baker (and master woodworker) focuses on what’s coming out of the massive production bakery he has in Culver City, which also supplies his cozy cafe on Washington Boulevard. There’s cafe seating outside and inside, plus a huge case of breads, pastries and little sandwiches. There are also breakfast, brunch and lunch menus if you want omelets, pancakes, a pretzel burger or a bowl of Röckenwagner’s excellent Bircher muesli.
Breads: Baguettes, seven grain loaves and Rudolf Steiner “bachelor” loaves (very cute, very good).
Pastries: Croissants, pretzel croissants, pretzels, tarts, cookies, caneles, scones, struesels, tarts, financiers.
Coffee: Peet’s and local roaster Caffe Luxxe on an Aurelia 2-pull espresso machine.
Where: 12835 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 577-0747, rockenwagner.com
When chef Jason Neroni and his partners rebooted this longtime Venice neighborhood restaurant in 2015, they not only upgraded and expanded the space to showcase Neroni’s market-driven cooking, but they also added an impressive daily-changing bread and pastry program. The ovens in the open kitchen turn out baguettes and boules, and the cases in the front are loaded with an impressive patisserie collection. There’s also a huge outdoor patio where you can not only eat your mortadella panini but the full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu (the restaurant has charcuterie and pasta programs, as well as a pizza oven and a huge bar).
Breads: Baguettes (which are terrific), polenta sourdough, country white, banana bread.
Pastries: Kouign-amann, beignets, bagels, doughnuts, cookies, croissants, pain au chocolate.
Coffee: Espresso and tea drinks, including yerba mate, matcha and kombucha. Both the coffee and the espresso machine are from Verve.
Where: 220 Rose Ave., Venice, (310) 399-0711, rosecafevenice.com
Superba Food + Bread
Open since 2014 on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice in a 5,000-square-foot space that was once an auto body shop, Superba is brought to us by Paul Hibler, the guy behind Pitfire Pizza. Superba is a mash-up of a restaurant, bakery and coffee shop arranged around a big, glassed-in production kitchen and stations for both pastries and coffee. So you can see the loaves of bread coming out of the massive Bassanina oven, the speed racks loaded with baked goods and desserts — and a giant Fleetwood Mac mural.
Breads: Baguettes, country sourdough, wheat, rye, sprouted wheat.
Pastries: Croissants of various types (Nutella-pretzel, guava-cream cheese, chocolate brownie, even a Reuben croissant), kouign-amann, bombolini, chocolate cakes, house versions of Pop Tarts and Oreo cookies, slab pies, cookies.
Coffee: Superba’s own house coffee, on a La Marzocco espresso machine.
Where: 1900 S. Lincoln Blvd., Venice, (310) 907-5075, www.superbafoodandbread.com
Santa Monica to Beverly Hills
A tiny walk-up counter between chef Thomas Keller’s Bar Bouchon and the staircase leading to Bouchon Bistro, the bakery has a pretty impressive collection of baked goods wedged into what’s basically a very pretty atrium. But you’re smack in the middle of Beverly Hills, with the Beverly Canon Gardens right beyond the big doors, so you can take your pastry and espresso outside and sit at the cafe tables and chairs in the garden. Open since summer of 2011, this is an outpost of Keller’s Yountville bakery, a California version of a classic French boulangerie, that opened in 2003. Also: the guy who brought us the French Laundry is making dog biscuits.
Breads: Baguettes, hard-to-find epis (long, skinny grain-shaped loaves) and brioche.
Pastries: French macarons, both large and small, chocolate eclairs, cookies, the namesake (and fantastic) chocolate bouchons, plain and chocolate croissants, almond croissants, cookies, pain au raisin.
Coffee: Espresso drinks from Equator coffee, made on an Equator machine.
Where: 235 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, (310) 271-9910, bouchonbakery.com
If you’re a fan of traditional French pâtisserie, Chaumont is probably your best bet in this town. Frederic and Laila Laski, the French husband-and-wife team behind Chaumont, opened their Beverly Hills bakery in early 2013. It’s a light-filled space, all white surfaces and glass, and the big cases in front are filled with gorgeous pastries. There are creditable baguettes in the classic French style (crispy exterior, pale and airy crumb), plus a few rustic breads and a menu of breakfast and lunch dishes (quiche, tartines), but it’s the gorgeous laminated dough pastries you want.
Breads: Baguettes, ficelle (plain, fig and walnut, Parmesan), olive bread, cranberry-raisin bread.
Pastries: Croissants (excellent), almond croissants, pain au raisin, pain au chocolat, tarts and Danishes.
Coffee: La Columbe coffee on a Faema machine.
Where: 143 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, (310) 550-5510, chaumontbakery.com
Opened in 2010 by chef Jeffrey Cerciello, a veteran of Thomas Keller’s restaurants Bouchon and Ad Hoc, FarmShop is both restaurant and marketplace, a charming place to sit down to eat and then to shop for charcuterie, olive oil, fresh produce — and breads and pastries. And since you’re at the Brentwood Country Mart, you can sit outside on the patio under an umbrella, and then do more shopping, or get some ice cream at Sweet Rose Creamery.
Breads: Baguettes, oatmeal boules, sesame boules, bagels, banana bread.
Pastries: Plain croissants, pain au chocolat, chocolate-hazelnut croissants, Danishes, financiers, coffee cake, buttermilk biscuits, muffins, scones, cookies, galettes.
Coffee: L.A. Mill coffee in both drip and espresso.
Where: 225 26th St., Ste 25, Brentwood, ((310) 566-2400), farmshopca.com
In 2006, Ricardo Cervantes and Alfredo Livas, two immigrants from Monterrey, Mexico, wanted to bring more traditional Mexican baked goods and sweets to Los Angeles, so they made use of their Stanford MBAs and opened a panaderia. Now there are nine locations throughout the city, making outstanding pan dulce, tres leches cake, conchas and other pastries. The duo first worked with a French pastry chef, but the collaboration didn’t have the kind of regional authenticity the owners wanted so Cervantes took over the baking.
Breads: Baguettes, bolillos, semitas, cornbread.
Pastries: Concha, pan dulce, croissants, Danishes, orejas (kind of like palmiers), Mexican wedding cakes, cheesecakes and other cakes and pastries.
Coffee: La Monarca uses organic coffee from a single farm in Oaxaca, Mexico, which they sell under their own label and use to make drip and espresso drinks, on a La Marzocco. They also serve café de olla.
Where: 6365 Pacific Blvd., Huntington Park, (323) 585-5500, and other locations, www.lamonarcabakery.com
The Larder at Tavern
There has always been good bread at Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne’s restaurants, which include Lucques, A.O.C. and Tavern, as Goin has a history of encouraging the bakers who work for her. Then, in 2014, she and her partners opened Larder Baking Co., a 7,000-square-foot commercial bakery in Culver City. Walk into Tavern in Brentwood and you can see, and taste, the results: shelves of breads and cases of pastries near an espresso machine and a rack of newspapers. And, because the bread shop is at the front of the restaurant, there’s also a full menu, including breakfast, sandwiches and a frequently-changing list of Goin’s fantastic market-driven dishes.
Breads: Baguettes, ciabatta, whole grain and olive boules, also other seasonal loaves.
Pastries: Croissants, whole wheat croissants, pain au chocolat, almond croissants, muffins, cookies, Danishes, scones and brownies.
Coffee: Equator coffee, on a La Marzocco machine.
Where: 11648 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood, (310) 806-6464, www.tavernla.com
Milo & Olive
All the bread baking for the restaurants from the husband-and-wife team of Josh Loeb and baker Zoe Nathan (including Rustic Canyon and Huckleberry) is done at Milo & Olive, a homey, pizza-driven restaurant. So you can see the ovens in the open kitchen, the fires of the pizza oven — the breads on the shelves and the pastries in the case when you first walk in. This is terrific stuff: perfectly formed baguettes, gorgeous little cakes and pastries and wonderful whole grain sourdough loaves. Nathan, an alum of Tartine in San Francisco, also has a baking book, “Huckleberry,” named after her Santa Monica bakery, so if you can’t get over to Milo & Olive, you could always try baking something yourself.
Breads: Baguettes, country boules, multigrain boules, brioche, ciabatta, sunflower and rye loaves. Also: bagels!
Pastries: Croissants, chocolate croissants, ham and cheese croissants, sticky buns, cookies, crostatas, quiche and pretty amazing foot-long cheese sticks.
Coffee: Caffe Luxxe, the L.A.-based small batch roaster, on a 2-pull La Marzocco.
Where: 2723 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 453-6776, www.miloandolive.com
Roan Mills is the bakery operation that Andrea Crawford and her husband, Robert Dedlow, started in 2013 after they started growing heirloom grains as a side project of their larger business, Kenter Canyon Farms. Over the years they’ve expanded their grain production, milling their own flour and growing their whole grain sourdough operation, working on a retail bakery that they hope to open in Fillmore in the fall of this year. In addition to excellent baguettes, boules of various sizes (including some the size of hubcaps), they also make their own pastas with their flour, which they sell, along with bags of flour and of wheatberries at L.A. farmers markets.
Breads: Baguettes, rye bread, focaccia, Red Fife sandwich loaf, Glenn country batard, Sonora country boule and enormous 3-kilo boules.
Coffee: Nope, though Demitasse is not too far away on 3rd Street.
Where: Wednesday Santa Monica farmers market, Arizona Avenue and 2nd Street, Santa Monica, as well as the Sunday Hollywood and Atwater Village farmers markets, roanmills.com
The Valley, Burbank and Glendale
85°C Bakery Café
The first U.S. branch of this Taiwanese bakery and coffee chain opened in Irvine in 2009, four years after the company was founded. There are now more than a dozen locations in Southern California — the latest is a recently opened bakery in Glendale; another shop is coming soon to Koreatown — with extensive menus and cases filled with many types of little breads, pastries and cakes. The fun thing about this place, of course, is that you get a cafeteria tray and then load it up, using the tongs provided, with little cups and bags of the pretty items, rather like you would at an actual old-school cafeteria. The flavors are a lovely mash-up of European and Asian, and there’s a menu of sea salt coffee drinks.
Breads: Multigrain mini loaves, bags of multigrain toast, giant brioche and other items, including calamari breads, cheese breads and milk breads.
Pastries: Egg tarts, croissants, Danishes, matcha red bean rolls and other baked goods. There’s a separate case with a large assortment of whole cakes and slices and other desserts, including red velvet cakes, white cakes, fruit tarts, tiramisu and panna cotta.
Coffee: The house coffee is from Guatemala, brewed on house machines that keep the stuff at 85 degrees Celsius, which the company considers ideal for coffee — hence the name of the bakery.
Where: 201 N. Brand Blvd., Suite 100, Glendale, (818) 550-0885, and many other locations, www.85cbakerycafe.com.
Porto’s Bakery and Café
Porto’s is an institution as much as a high-volume bakery, a family-run business that first opened in 1976 on Sunset Boulevard after the Porto family immigrated to Southern California from their native Cuba. Now with three bustling locations, Porto’s starts serving empanadas and croquettes and rellenitos to the seemingly permanent crowds at daybreak. And yes, they make Cubanos and even lechon, the addictive dish of slow-roasted pork. Because if you’re going to wait in those long lines, you might as well get lunch and dinner too.
Breads: Baguettes and rolls.
Pastries: Croissants, Danishes, muffins, turnovers, empanadas, strudels, tamales, chorizo pie, cakes, tarts.
Coffee: Gaviña coffee on both drip and espresso machines.
Where: 315 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, (818) 956-5996, www.portosbakery.com, also shops in Burbank and Downey.
Sweet Butter Kitchen
A cafe and bakery built around a pretty, plant-filled interior patio, Sweet Butter Kitchen was opened in 2010 by the late Leslie Danelian; it’s now owned by her daughter, Emily Smith. The cafe is loaded not only with a big pastry case filled with all the baked goods made in the bakery but also shelves of cookbooks, candies and gifts. A giant chalkboard lists the omelets and sandwiches, soups and salads and weekend brunch dishes, so you can sit down and have a leisurely croque madame either in the patio or on a cafe chair out on the sidewalk.
Pastries: Croissants, almond croissants, pain au chocolat, scones, banana bread, Nutella cheesecake, muffins.
Coffee: Intelligentsia, on both drip and espresso machines.
Where: 13824 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 788-2832, www.sweetbutterkitchen.com
Also in the Valley: Joan’s on Third
Sumi Chang’s bakery has been a Pasadena staple for over 20 years, and she expanded to a second location farther west along Colorado Boulevard in 2010. Chang, a veteran of Nancy Silverton’s Campanile, oversees a crew that makes breads and pastries, sandwiches, breakfast and lunch dishes — and a near-legendary egg salad.
Breads: Baguettes, ciabatta, sourdough loaves, multigrain boules, rosemary-currant and nut breads.
Pastries: Cinnamon rolls, blueberry brioche, giant house-made English muffins, bear claws, cookies, over-sized French macarons, lemon bars, muffins and cookies.
Coffee: Jones Coffee, in both espresso and drip.
Where: 950 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 577-1828 (no website), and a second location in Pasadena.
When Little Flower Candy Co.’s Christine Moore and business partner Pam Perkins opened their restaurant Lincoln, in what had been an abandoned 1920s-era brick building in northern Pasadena in late 2014, it seemed as if the place was a business built around a pastry counter. Sure, there were Things in Bowls, and all those sea salt caramels in their beribboned bags, but mostly there was pastry chef Cecilia Leung’s baked goods, rows and rows of them, smack in the middle of the restaurant and fronting the open kitchens. A few years, a baking cookbook and a third restaurant in Montrose later, you think the same thing: The pastry case seems even bigger.
Breads: Baguettes; there’s also a basket of boules from Clark Street Breads.
Pastries: Croissants, morning buns, cupcakes, palmiers, cookies, tarts, tea cakes, French macarons, scones, pretzel dogs.
Coffee: Stumptown coffee on a La Marzocco machine.
Where: 1992 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena, (626) 765-6746, lincolnpasadena.com
Baker Joseph Abrakjian opened Seed in late 2015, making whole grain loaves and other baked goods in a cozy bakery and retail space arranged around an enormous Bongard four-deck oven. Abrakjian, who brought his breads to local farmers markets before he opened his bakery, grinds his own flour — there are sacks of grain stacked along the walls of the bakery — in a room near the kitchen, and the freshness of the flour translates into the loaves, built with spelt, rye, kamut and other whole grains. The pastries are also made with the whole grain flour as well as produce from local farms and markets.
Breads: Baguettes, kamut boules, rye and cranberry bread, rustic country loaves, ciabatta, brioche, whole wheat walnut, 100% spelt boules.
Pastries: Plain and chocolate croissants, muffins, scones, fruit Danishes and excellent vegetable and whole-grain crust quiches.
Coffee: Espresso and drink coffee from Kickapoo Coffee, a small-batch Wisconsin-based company.
Where: 942 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 486-2115, www.seedbakerypasadena.com
Hollywood to Highland Park
Bub and Grandma’s
Andy Kadin, a former television writer, started baking bread at home, every day, until he finally quit his day job and started selling that bread to restaurants. Now he and his 10-person crew have a production kitchen just east of downtown L.A. and are “feverishly looking” for a retail space. Until then, Bub and Grandma’s — Kadin named his bakery after his two grandmothers — has set up a stand at the Sunday Hollywood farmers market where you can get their outstanding baguettes, boules, loaves and flatbreads (recently one topped with cauliflower, and another with mushrooms, garlic, onions and Calabrian chiles). Their bread is made from flour milled at Grist & Toll’s in Pasadena and natural levain, and it’s some of the very best in town.
Breads: Baguettes made with hard red, hard white, bread and spelt flours, and loaves and boules including a 30% rye, spelt-polenta, fruit and nut, sesame, whole wheat, ciabatta.
Coffee: Nope, but you’re at the farmers market; there’s also a Groundwork nearby.
Where: Sunday Hollywood farmers market, 1600 Ivar Ave., Hollywood, and a few other retails shops, www.bubandgrandmas.com
McCall’s Meat & Fish
Opened in early 2010 by the married team of Karen Yoo and Nathan McCall, two fine dining veterans of the late David Myers restaurant Sona and Restaurant Daniel, McCall’s Meat & Fish started out, as you can probably tell by the name, as a butcher shop. It’s still that, and has a terrific selection of beef, poultry and seafood. Then in 2012, Yoo, who was trained as a pastry chef, added a bakery to the shop, baking breads and pastries on a little 8-rack MIWE oven. She makes great baguettes, loaves of multigrain bread and an impressive selection of pastries (get her kouign-amann) and desserts. In April of last year, the couple expanded further, opening a little cafe called Twenty40 across the street where you can get Yoo’s breads and pastries as well as sandwiches and coffee.
Breads: Baguettes, dinner rolls, burger buns, multigrain loaves, fougasse, challah on Fridays.
Pastries: Kouign-amann, cinnamon rolls, macaroons, coffee cake, cookies, almond croissants, muffins, butter croissants, scones, snickerdoodles, tarts, Key lime pies.
Coffee: At Twenty40, a menu of espresso and drip coffee, with 49th Parallel coffee on a La Marzocco.
Where: 2117 Hillhurst Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 667-0674, www.mccallsmeatandfish.com
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
When the popular San Francisco bakery opened a shop in Highland Park last fall, the lines were predictably long — not just because it’s a new bakery in a gorgeous brick-and-glass loft space but because of the cruffin, the cream-filled croissant-muffin hybrid that is the bakery’s signature pastry. Now that the novelty has worn off some, and there’s another Mr. Holmes Bakehouse in Orange County (and Seoul, Korea), the lines are manageable. Which is a good thing, as there’s a lot more to the bakery than those cruffins. No bread, but shelves of lovely ceramics and jars of doughnut fillings, and a giant pastry case filled with croissants, both plain and seriously tricked out, as well as other hybrid baked goods, notably something called a “cruffin pudding,” smoked salmon-filled “sushi croissants” and bear claws filled not with almond paste but cookie dough.
Breads: No breads, only pastries.
Pastries: Cruffins, croissants (plain, chocolate, churro, matcha), doughnuts, fruit Danishes, cookies,
Coffee: Intelligentsia Coffee on a La Marzocco.
Na Young Ma, a native of Glendale and graduate of the CIA’s pastry program, opened Proof in a tiny space in Atwater Village in 2010. Since then, the little shop has been perpetually crowded for good reason: Ma makes the best croissants in town, as well as a spectacular chocolate layer cake. Proof’s menu is highly changeable, dependent on market produce, seasonal variations and just what the bakers can produce in their tiny kitchen. In addition to the baked goods, there are sandwiches and salads, cheesecakes and granola.
Breads: No breads for sale, though Proof makes excellent ficelle and baguettes for their sandwiches.
Pastries: Croissants, financiers, pain au chocolat, shortbread, almond croissants, scones, excellent chocolate chip cookies, as well as whole cakes and slices, quiche, cheesecake and tarts.
Coffee: Portland, Ore.-based Heart and San Francisco-based Four Barrel coffee on a La Marzocco.
Where: 3156 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village, (323) 664-8633, proofbakery.com
The Village Bakery and Cafe
Open since 2009, Barbara Monderine’s neighborhood bakery and cafe is engineered around a Pavailler deck oven, which you can see right behind the front counter and long pastry cases when you walk in. So you can pick a loaf and some pastries, a dessert — they have tres leche cakes in jars — and then stay for a meal, as the place serves sandwiches, salads and breakfast all day long.
Breads: Baguettes, sourdough and rustic loaves.
Pastries: Croissants, scones, muffins, cookies, doughnuts, gluten-free bondies, heart-shaped hand pies (these are excellent), vegan brownies, scones.
Coffee: Groundwork coffee on a Rancilio machine.
Where: 3119 Los Feliz Blvd., Atwater Village, (323)662-8600, www.thevillagebakeryandcafe.com
Mid-Wilshire to Downtown
You are, of course, here for the French macarons, which this downtown L.A. restaurant and bakery showcases in a giant glass case — an abacus in a rainbow of colors — near the front doors. But Bottega Louie, a huge hatbox of a restaurant in what used to be a Brooks Brothers store, also has a very creditable bread program, making crisp baguettes and country breads as well as a variety of Viennoiserie, laminated pastries, and a gorgeous collection of baroque cakes: opera cakes and Sachertortes, dacquoises and Napoleons, Saint Honores and Tropeziennes. It’s probably the best collection in L.A., and a great place to take “The Great British Baking Show” junkies.
Breads: Baguettes, epis, country bread.
Pastries: Croissants, pain au chocolat, pain de mie, pain au fromage, canelés (which are excellent), cupcakes, muffins, Bavarian pretzels, eclairs, French macarons, giant macaron cakes, Napoleons, opera cakes, Sachertorte and other cakes and tarts.
Coffee: Counter Culture espresso drinks on a 3-pull La Marzocca espresso machine.
Where: 700 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 802-1470, www.bottegalouie.com
Open since 2012 in an Arts District loft space that’s conveniently around the corner from Bestia, Ran Zimon’s bakery makes some of the best baguettes in L.A. — which is the reason why they supply a number of restaurants and cafes in town. Zimon, who is from Israel (he makes fantastic Jerusalem bagels, likely the only baker in town who does), baked for Suzanne Goin before opening his own business. You can get sandwiches and pastries at his bakery, as well as borek, panini, salads and soups, but you’re here for the outstanding breads. While you’re there, check out the open bakery, as it’s fun to watch the bakers operate the German MIWE deck oven.
Breads: Baguettes, light rye, fig and walnut, wheat and walnut, country white, multigrain and potato-rosemary loaves, among others.
Pastries: Croissants, chocolate rugelach, kouign-amann, Danishes, cinnamon rolls, pain au chocolate, pain au raisin, bagels.
Coffee: Stumptown coffee on a Simonelli espresso machine.
Where: 700 S. Santa Fe Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 327-0782, breadlounge.com
Clark Street Bread
Zack Hall started baking his remarkable breads out of a 900-square-foot West Hollywood apartment, selling them to local chefs and restaurants and getting press mainly via Instagram. He set up a stall at downtown’s Grand Central Market in late 2014, to which he recently added a counter and a breakfast, lunch and toast menu. And in June, Hall is again expanding, opening a 3,000-square-foot production and retail space in Echo Park, adjacent to where the late, lamented Haitian restaurant TiGeorges’ Chicken used to be.
Breads: Excellent country boules and baguettes, Alpine loaves, whole wheat, Danish rye, raisin-walnut, ciabatta.
Pastries: Croissants and pain au chocolat (both fantastic), also brioche, pain au raisin, ham and cheese croissants.
Coffee: No, though the Echo Park space will have espresso. (G&B is on the Hill Street side of the market.)
Where: Grand Central Market, 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, www.clarkstreetbakery.com
Joan’s on Third
When Joan McNamara opened her original bakery and cafe on Third Street in 1995, it was as if this town finally had our own version of Dean & Deluca — and it’s still almost impossible to find a parking spot anywhere near the perpetually crowded space. To help us out some, McNamara opened a second Joan’s in Studio City in 2014. In addition to all the folks who come for the mac and cheese, meatloaf and roasted chicken, there are shelves and cases filled with baked goods, prepared foods, candy and chocolates, olive oil and wine, cookbooks and cheeses, ice cream and cows. Yes, cows: McNamara has a thing for cow art, which suits this town’s farm-to-table ethos just fine.
Breads: Plain and seeded baguettes, ciabatta rolls, and both plain and sesame ficelles.
Pastries: Plain croissants, almond croissants, chocolate croissants, macarons, Nutella hand pies, muffins, lemon meringue tarts, morning buns, Nutella poundcake, among others.
Coffee: Stumptown coffee on a La Marzocco machine.
Where: 8350 W. 3rd St, Los Angeles, (323) 655-2285. www.joansonthird.com
La Brea Bakery Café
The current location of the bakery that was originally opened by Nancy Silverton in the late ’80s is only about a block north of the original La Brea Avenue location — which makes sense, given the name of the business. Silverton may have sold the bakery, but her spirit lives on in the sourdough boules and the rustic baked goods, the recipes for many of which date to Silverton’s time. This iteration of the bakery, which opened in 2013, is a large light-filled space built around long pastry cases and walls of built-in shelves loaded with bread.
Breads: Sourdough and French-style baguettes, ciabatta, country white, pumpernickel, organic wheat, pain rustique, fruit and nut bread, sunflower-honey loaves, gluten-free multigrain, brioche.
Pastries: Croissants, cookies, brownies, muffins, scones and other baked goods.
Coffee: Silverback Coffee of Rwanda, in both drip and espresso.
Where: 468 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 939-6813, www.labreabakery.com/cafe
A French-style boulangerie and patisserie opened by a married French couple, Frédéric and Fabienne Souliès, in the spring of 2015 across the street from Pershing Square in downtown L.A. This is a cozy place, built around a giant counter filled with very pretty classic pastries and cakes. And you’re here for those old-school desserts rather than the breads or laminated dough: specifically the millefeuille, Paris brest and religieuse, which are surprisingly difficult to find in this town.
Breads: Baguettes, country loaves, ficelles, sourdough, pain de mie.
Pastries: Croissants, almond croissants, millefeuille, eclairs, religieuse, chocolate beignets, palmiers, Paris brests.
Coffee: La Colombe coffee from a 2-pull La Marzocco.
Where: 545 S. Olive St., Los Angeles, (213) 689-3240, www.pitchounbakery.com
There is a certain irony to the pastry cases and shelves loaded with bread that greet you when you walk through the doors of République, chefs Walter and Margarita Manzke’s French bistro. This is because the cases and shelves are almost exactly as they were when the same space was Nancy Silverton’s old La Brea Bakery; République is what went into the old Campanile restaurant space, back in 2014. Fittingly, Margarita’s breads and pastries are as excellent as Silverton’s were. In addition to the loaves of breads, and many changing pastries, there is cake, specifically a fantastic chocolate layer cake. And when you walk into the restaurant, there is also a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, where you can get Walter’s take on bistro food.
Breads: Baguettes (excellent), multigrain boules, organic sourdough boules, fruit and nut breads.
Pastries: Kouign-amann (fantastic) in both plain and fruit versions, croissants, brioche, canelés, crostatas, doughnuts, muffins scones, cookies, eclairs, bombolini, cream puffs, Paris brests, alfajores, hand pies.
Coffee: Verve coffee on a La Marzocco.
Where: 624 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (310) 362-6115, republiquela.com
The Sycamore Kitchen
This cozy breakfast and lunch place is on La Brea Avenue, just south of Odys + Penelope, the terrific restaurant also owned by chefs Quinn and Karen Hatfield. Sycamore, which opened in 2012, is more of Karen’s project: She’s one of the finest pastry chefs in town. So the contents of the enormous pastry case change a lot with the seasons and with what’s at the nearby Hollywood farmers market. In addition to the pastries, there’s a changing menu with things such as French toast, croque madames, tartines, blintzes, pancakes, toasts and sandwiches. If it’s late in the day you can finish your pastries then walk to Odys + Penelope for a slice of chocolate rye pie.
Breads: Although Sycamore makes their own bread for their sandwiches and other menu items they don’t sell loaves of it. (Too bad.)
Pastries: Strawberry crostata, apple turnovers, flourless chocolate brownies, mini bundt cakes, , kouign-amann, zucchini bread.
Coffee: Stumptown on a La Marzocco.
Where: 143 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 939-0151, thesycamorekitchen.com