Chances are you’ve seen the gorgeous layered Russian honey cake with salted honey buttercream on Instagram, perched atop gorgeous vintage plateware. 20th Century Cafe also sells lots of other Eastern European treats like housemade bagels with smoked salmon, pierogis, knish, and linzertorte, all in a pretty setting.
2 Arizmendi Bakery
The worker-owned bakery collective is a long-cherished institution in the Bay Area, and this Ninth Street spot comes out of that tradition. Arizmendi Bakery, named after a Basque labor organizer, was founded by some members of the original bakery collective, The Cheeseboard in Berkeley, and has been keeping the Sunset full of baguettes, sourdough croissants and pizza slices since 2000. Its daily changing pizza is always vegetarian and based on the Cheeseboard model: crust-focused, with a film of cheese and toppings. Arizmendi also turns out a whole range of flavored breads, pastries, cookies and the like; find the daily menu on the website. — Anna Roth
3 B. Patisserie
B. Patisserie chef Belinda Leong doesn’t mess around when it comes to kouign amann, the buttery, flaky pastry that sends customers to her Pac Heights shop in droves. Don’t miss out on the array of gorgeous cakes and macarons that grace the display cases, either — it’s all worth the wait.
4 Craftsman and Wolves
Mad scientist/baker William Werner’s masterpiece, the Rebel Within, manages to capture a soft boiled egg within a savory, sausage-studded cake. It’s served with a tiny vial of Tabasco salt for added oomph, and takes breakfast to a whole new level. (Check out a detailed explanation of how it’s made here.) And that’s just one of the bakery’s creations worth waiting in line for. There’s also a location on Valencia, if you’re closer to the Mission.
5 La Boulangerie de San Francisco
La Boulangerie is officially back as a definite SF bakery power player, with locations scattered across the city on Union Street, Pine Street, in Hayes Valley, and more. Absolutely no one will complain if you bring them some almond croissants and kouign amann from Pascal Rigo’s city classic, and then there’s the housemade breads, salads, sandwiches, and more for all-day cravings.
6 Le Marais Bakery
Le Marais’ Paris-inspired bakeries have all the classics (croissants, kouign amann, and more), as well as some Americanized favorites, like coffee cake and chocolate chip cookies. And beyond the gorgeous pastries and bread, there’s lunch and dinner for charmingly-relaxed dining in style.
7 Marla Bakery
Owners Amy Brown and Joe Wolf got married in their bakery’s charming backyard space, where they now serve the excellent sticky buns, cardamom coffee cake, English muffins, bagels, and more. There’s also a new, renewed focuson the bread and dinner program.
8 Miette Patisserie
It’s a sweets lover’s colorful fever dream inside Miette, where you can get cakes, cupcakes, cookies, candy, and much more, all in a very cute space. There’s also a stall in the Ferry Building.
9 Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
Welcome to one of the most Instagrammed places in San Francisco, made famous by its funky interior and innovative cruffins (for the uninitiated, that’s croissants baked like muffins). The line for said cruffins begins assembling early in the morning, as Mr. Holmes only sells a limited number each day. True fans would be wise to follow the shop at @mrholmesbakehouse on Instagram where weekly cruffin and donut flavors are announced ahead of time. Pro-tip: Its other pastries, ranging from filled donuts to savory treats, are accessible without enduring the cruffin line.
10 Neighbor Bakehouse
Neighbor Bakehouse’s croissants are right up there among the best this city has to offer, especially the unique everything option with poppy and sesame seeds, garlic, green onion, and cream cheese on the inside. That everything croissant is a peek into the bakery’s inventive menu, which also features kimchi toast, a smoked fish croissant, a guava & cream cheese pastelito, and more. Other more classic options include financiers, coconut macaroons, savory tarts, breads, and more.
11 Tartine Bakery
With an entire cookbook out on the market dedicated to Tartine’s breaded breakfast goodies, it’s no surprise that the line to buy them at the source regularly exceeds a 45-minute wait. First timers usually go for the morning bun, a flaky but dense pastry with a hint of citrus to it. Bread, tarts, cookies, cakes, and more fill the rest of the saliva-inducing display, all of which make the perfect pairing with people watching in the outdoor seating area.
12 The Mill
The pastries at toast-haven The Mill come from Neighbor Bakehouse, but it’s the divine breads that secure its spot on this list. Made by the infamous Josey Baker, the breads are on the level of Tartine’s, and there are always 12 on the menu, with a rotating 13th. Baker also experiments with semi-regular pizza nights, and there’s that $4 infamous toast, which is worth every penny.