Flour Bakery + Café, Boston
Chef Joanne Chang graduated from Harvard with honors, then applied her smarts to creating a fantastic bakery with locations in Boston and Cambridge. Chang can make a sticky bun like no other. It’s a must-go bakery in Beantown. flourbakery.com.
Salty Tart Bakery, Minneapolis
I love Michelle Gayer and order every special-occasion cake from her 400-square-foot bakery, Salty Tart. She does a lot more than cakes—savory baked goods, breads and my personal favorite, coconut macaroons. saltytart.com.
Tartine Bakery & Café, San Francisco
Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson are both incredibly talented chefs, but together they’re a culinary power couple. If you try only one thing at their bakery, go for the bread pudding. It’s fantastic. tartinebakery.com.
Macrina Bakery and Café, Seattle
Leslie Mackie was among the first American pastry chefs to experiment with making bread using a long, slow fermentation process, a technique used by European master bakers. Her patience and care show in her bread. The Macrina Casera, or "Of This House," bread is perfection. macrinabakery.com.
Citizen Cake Ice Cream Parlor and Eats, San Francisco
Elizabeth Falkner has quite the résumé: chef and owner of San Francisco’s Citizen Cake, cookbook author, competitor on Top Chef Masters, Iron Chef America, Food Network Challenge, not to mention a judge for numerous culinary competitions. You’ve got to try the salted chocolate caramel tart. citizencake.com.
Renato Poliafito and Matt Lewis seem to have perfected the bakery—starting with their kitchen team, which includes Eric Wolitzky from Top Chef: Just Desserts. Some of us crave salt, while others yearn for sugar: Try the sweet and salty brownies for the best of both worlds. bakednyc.com.
Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, Chicago
Chef Mindy Segal’s namesake restaurant isn’t all about desserts, but you’ll definitely want to linger over your final course. Try the warm brioche doughnuts, and if you’re especially into chocolate, go for the Mexican hot chocolate with house-made marshmallows. hotchocolatechicago.com.
The Denver Bread Company, Denver
Greg Bortz, head baker and owner of the Denver Bread Company, was deservedly named Baker of the Year by Denver Magazine. The must-have is the boule, a three-pounder: proof you can bake at high altitude. thedenverbreadcompany.com.
Almondine Bakery, Brooklyn
New York Magazine named Almondine the Best Bakery in New York and gave it the prizes for best baguettes and best croissants. And they’re not kidding about the croissants—the almond one is amazing. almondinebakery.com.
Sun Street Breads, Minneapolis
Solveig Tofte isn’t just good at baking, she’s one of America’s best 1x bakers. Tofte competed at the Coupe du changed from "de" Monde de la Boulangerie in Paris on the Bread Bakers Guild Team USA. She, along with her husband, Martin Ouimet, run Sun Street Breads, serving up some of the best 2x breakfasts I’ve ever had. My favorites: the biscuits and gravy and the egg sandwich. sunstreetbreads.com.
Standard Baking Co., Portland, ME
If I had to name just one item to try here, I couldn’t. I stay at the adjacent hotel for the sole purpose of eating here every morning I’m in town. Just go. (75 Commercial St.; 207-773-2112.)
Maria’s Pastry, Boston
The Merola family runs this local favorite with help from three generations. My advice: the cannoli, or the marzipan, or the best sfogliatelle (an Italian pastry that’s shaped like a shell or cone) I have ever tried. Nothing comes close. mariaspastry.com.
Bit of Swiss, Stevensville, MI
The Tosi rye is baked in a 20,000-pound Old World oven. Enough said. bitofswiss.com.
La Mie Bakery, Des Moines
This Des Moines neighborhood bakery is lively and energetic, even at 7 a.m. on a Saturday. Its artisan breads are made fresh. The baguettes are killer. lamiebakery.com.
Village Bakery Café, Amarillo, TX
Phyllis and George Enloe’s shop is home to some of the best artisan breads in the country, but don’t fill up on them. You’ll need room for the cheesecake. Trust me on this one. villagebakerycafe.com.