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.
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.
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.
Before learning how to bake bread in Italy, Jim Lahey studied sculpture, and we suppose that skill lends itself to the bread baking business. His revolutionary no-knead style sparked the interest of bread bakers everywhere after Mark Bittman wrote about him in The New York Times in 2006. Sullivan Street Bakery offers pane pugliese, brioche loaf, semi di sesame, and many more varieties of delicious breads.
Balthazar Bakery, located on Soho’s Spring Street, is small but packed with breads and pastries. Many times, people waiting for a table at the eponymous brasserie next door stave off hunger by nibbling on their baguettes, pain au levain, cranberry raisin pecan breads, croissants, and more. Their cakes, like the seven-layer pistachio opera cake with chocolate-enrobed ganache and pistachio buttercream, are things to marvel at.
Amy’s Bread delivers handcrafted breads that are made through slow fermentation and traditional baking methods. Don’t let the name fool you: This bakery is good for more than just bread. Their yellow cake with pink buttercream frosting puts any yellow cake mix to shame. They have been serving New York since 1992, proving that American-style bakeries are on equal footing with their more ooh-la-la French equivalents.
Chef and owner Thomas Keller, inspired by Parisian boulangeries, decided to open Bouchon Bakery next to Yountville, California’s Bouchon Bistro — much to our pleasure. Now, there are also locations in Las Vegas, Beverly Hills, and New York City, where you’ll find the works: macarons in vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, caramel, and seasonal flavors, breads, cookies, and other seasonal sweets. A bite into their chocolate chip cookie will reshape how you think of chocolate chip cookies.
Flour Bakery’s "eat dessert first" motto is hard to disagree with when it comes to their freshly baked pastries, cookies, tarts, and more. Owner and pastry chef Joanne Chang has been bringing America’s sweet comfort foods to the next level since 2000. Start your morning with a cinnamon cream brioche, topped with crème fraîche and cinnamon sugar, or an old-fashioned sour cream coffee cake, rich with brown sugar-pecan-cinnamon swirl. If you’re just in the mood for a sweet nibble, try a customer favorite: the Chunky Lola cookie, made with oats, chocolate, coconut, and toasted pecans.
With three François Payard Bakery locations throughout New York City, New Yorkers know this is the place to go when they’re craving a delicate and perfected French macaron in all its colorful glory. Patrons can also enjoy goods from a robust selection of organic artisanal breads that range in from pretzel morissette to chocolate bread.
Milk Bar East Village/Yelp
When it comes to bakeries, people tend to favor the traditional, using a few key ingredients to make classics taste comforting and familiar. Not Momofuku Milk Bar. They make bold and brave decisions with their pastries that actually work. Take their chocolate chip layer cake, for example, which sounds simple enough, but incorporates coffee and passionfruit. The result is so surprising yet pleasant that you can’t help but smile with every bite. Their “crack pie,” a buttery pie that’s basically as addictive as its name implies, is one of the most sought-after desserts at this bakery. They also offer savory pastries like the volcano, loaded with potato gratin, caramelized onions, pancetta, Benton’s bacon, and Gruyère.
Tartine, which means “buttered bread” in French, returns as this year’s top bakery. The bakery, opened by James Beard Award-winning chefs Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson in 2002, excels at both breads and pastries. Their baked goods are just as delicious as they are picture-perfect. While their classic breads — available in a variety of flavors and styles — are most notable, they also excel at Mexican wedding cookies and pain au jambon, a smoked ham and Gruyère pastry.