Visiting an actual bakery to buy bread is like going to a butcher to buy meat or a fishmonger to buy fish — a dying habit. The convenience of grocery stores is that you can purchase all these items in once place, but there is something to be said for buying goods from dedicated businesses, often small, that have their specialty down to a science. Luckily, a few thousand small bakeries still exist in the United States — enough for us to come up with our list of America’s 75 Best Bakeries. Here are the bakeries that made it to the top 10.
According to a 2013 report by Sundale Research, the United States has nearly 6,700 independent bakeries that serve Americans daily. To compile our list of America’s 75 Best Bakeries, we narrowed those 6,700 bakeries down to 200, based on a combination of factors — considering bakeries that have made it to the top of our previous lists as well as those recognized by other publications — and pitted them against each other in a survey that we sent out to our expert panel. Participants were asked to rank what they thought were the top bakeries by region and indicate which items they felt each bakery was best known for (pies, cakes, breads, etc.). We took the list and put it under The Daily Meal editorial team’s scrutiny. Were they only specialists in a particular category of pastry? If so, were they so good in that category that they were still worth putting on the list? For the most part, these bakeries, especially the top 10, represent well-rounded talent, but there were a few specialists too talented to ignore.
A large portion of the bakeries on the total list — especially ones in the top 10 — are located in New York City, as many of our panelists knew the city well and were able to confidently rank those establishments. This certainly does not mean that New York is the only city with fabulous bakeries, though. Take a look at the rest of the list, which features bakeries in Delaware, Ohio, and Oklahoma, among other states, and tell us why a few non-New York bakeries need to be up-voted by tweeting @thedailymeal or leaving a comment below. Better yet, tell us about a bakery we need to have on our radar.
If you find yourself near any of these bakeries, don’t hesitate to stop in, even if just to look at the beautiful displays and smell that most comforting scent of bread baking. After all, they are some of the very best in the country.
Additional reporting by Nikkitha Bakshani
#10 Levain Bakery, New York City and Wainscott, N.Y.
Levain Bakery’s moist and decadent cookies, which come in tried-and-true flavors like oatmeal raisin and dark peanut butter chip, are one of those foods you cannot leave New York (or the Hamptons!) without tasting. Other baked-in-house goods include chocolate chip brioche and rustic fruit tarts, and a selection of French-style breads, such as baguettes and country boules.
#9 Maison Kayser, New York City
French chef Eric Kayser opened Maison Kayser in Paris in 1996, and he now has more than 100 bakeries around the world in 13 countries, with all the U.S. locations currently located in New York City. Try their pain au chocolat, or even better, their plié au chocolat, which has a filling of pastry cream and many tiny chocolate chips that make the strip of chocolate in pains au chocolat seem stingy. And then there are the pistachio financiers, cake-like cookies, nutty multigrain baguettes, olive bread with shiny chunks of real green and Kalamata olives, and other delicacies that will transport you to Paris in a single bite.