For many foodie travelers, experiencing the best restaurants of their vacation destination is tantamount. But for others, there’s no time too early to start treating yourself to the best bites in a new town. This roundup is for the latter, for whom gustatory joy begins in the AM, where we reveal the best places to start your day sweetly in the U.S.
Best Cities for Pastry Lovers
1. San Francisco
This food-centric destination is already famous for Ghiradelli chocolate, which means they must have their sweets down on lock. Great chocolate is an ideal complement to great pastry, and this destination’s got both. According to a study of 200 American cities by Lawn Love, “The Golden City has the most patisseries and coffee shops per square mile” in their national ranking. “There are also award-winning pastry chefs serving up delicious croissants and other baked goods across the city,” they cite.
- Tartine Bakery’s morning bun, individual tarts, oversized croissants, and individual cake slices
- B. patisserie’s Viennese and Parisian specialties, such as various Kouign Amann and tartines
- Arsicault Bakery for the “best croissant in America” per Bon Appetit
2. New York
We’re just as shocked as you are that NYC didn’t claim the top spot, but just because it’s the home of the most pastry and pastry chef awards doesn’t necessarily mean every box is the whole package. However, New Yorkers Google pastry-related terms more than any other American city, which means that perhaps the drop in rank might be attributed to the selectiveness and standards of that city’s dwellers. After all, the highest average consumer rating for patisseries is actually a tie between Bridgeport, CT, St. Petersburg, FL, Des Moines, IA, Reno, NV, and Grand Prairie, TX. Surprise!
- Levain Bakery for the legendary six-ounce monster cookies—soft and chewy in the middle with crisp edges—and brioches
- Magnolia Bakery for banana and other seasonal flavored puddings that live up to their reputation and tender-crumbed cakes
- Dominique Ansel for the cronut that started a nationwide craze
Ranked #2—right behind New York City—for most awards won for pastries and pastry chefs as well as most pastry-related searches, this Midwestern city sure knows how to bake. It helps that a rich Swedish heritage in neighborhoods like Andersonville (Ann Sather’s moist cinnamon rolls are legendary) up the standard, and secret baker societies keep baking exciting.
- Lost Larson’s cardamom bun with pearl sugar, Danish Terbirkes with almond cream and poppy seeds, and Princess Cake
- A Taste of Heaven for cake by the generous slice as late as 9 PM, and a wide array of scones
- Kasama for pastries, tarts, cookies, and savory croissants from the only Michelin-starred Filipino restaurant in the world
- Do-Rite Donuts, a local chain with fresh-fried yeast, old-fashioned sour cream, and cake doughnuts that are consistently better than slightly more famous Stan’s Donuts
For a city’s whose most famous beverage is Starbucks coffee, it’s only fitting that they also nail pastry, a natural partner to a good, strong cup of brew. Seattle comes in number 3 for most patisseries per square mile, following only San Fran and Miami, and ranked up above Garden Grove, CA and Honolulu Hawaii, which means a great baked good is only ever steps away here.
- Le Panier’s seasonal clafoutis, pistachio eclairs, and napoleons since you know you’re already going to Pike Place Market anyway
- Fresh Flours for Western pastries infused with Japanese flavors, like yuzu macarons and adzuki bean paste croissants
- Columbia City Bakery for James Beard-nominated croissants, pistachio snails, scones, ficelle baguettes, and pretzel buns
5. Los Angeles
This city tied with Philadelphia, PA and Richmond, VA to finish out the list of the most awarded cities, and sits in the middle for the most searches for their baked goods. The diversity of its people is reflected in its high standing, as creative pastries, breads, and desserts often pull from Asian, Mexican, European, Southern American, and other bakery traditions from all around the world.
- The original La Brea Bakery for their famous artisan breads and fun flavors like jalapeno cheddar, olive, pecan raisin, and toasted sunflower honey
- Chaumont Bakery & Café, a fancy-like pastry spot that also offers a fully vegan sister café right next door
- Diamond Bakery’s classic Jewish goods, going strong after 75 years for honey cake, babka, rugelach, and more for less
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