The Best San Francisco Bakeries

For a literal taste of San Francisco's history, it's hard to do better than a loaf of sourdough bread. Each golden-brown round owes its distinct tangy flavor to a wild yeast mother starter, and some date as far back as 1849. But if the iconic loaf fails to work your taste buds into a frenzy, don't fret; San Francisco is home to a bevy of awe-inspiring bakeries doling out giant donuts, heavenly custard tarts, and a few sweet surprises.
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Mission: James Beard Award–Winning Pastry Chefs

_New York Times_ writer Mark Bittman raved about Tartine, starting with scones described as "tender," "crumbly," and "just sweet enough," and a croissant he claims is “the best I’ve had on the West Coast." He can thank Tartine’s co-proprietors, who share the 2008 James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef.

Nob Hill: Donuts as Big as Your Head

The only thing that stops Bob’s headlining donuts from accurately matching the size of a human head is the hole in the middle, according to _Travel + Leisure_ magazine. The extra-large confections are churned out 24 hours a day, along with regular-size rings for daintier appetites.

Chinatown: Crowd-Drawing Egg Tarts

Golden Gate Bakery's renowned egg custard tarts have been named one of the city's best dishes by SFoodie. The well-established Chinatown joint will sometimes shut down for "vacation" without warning, disappointing throngs of tourists and devoted fans seeking moon-cakes and sweet coconut buns.

Inner Richmond: NY-Style Bagels

House of Bagels has been serving real, chewy, golden-brown, boiled-then-baked New York–style bagels since it first opened in 1962. The made-from-scratch circular confections come in such flavors as banana nut, pizza, orange poppy, and cheesy dill.

Multiple Locations: Eye-Catching Cakes, Classic Cookies

From chocolate-triangle-topped cakes to the round tufts of singed meringue atop the tres leches, there’s plenty to ogle inside the glass display cases at Delessio Market and Bakery’s two locations. 7x7.com recommends that guests pay attention to a humbler-looking selection; an oatmeal-raisin cookie they deemed "seductive."

Multiple Locations: Secret Cookie Recipe

Batter Bakery owner Jen Musty won’t tell what’s in her trademarked Sand Angel cookies, and so far, none of the cookie connoisseurs who frequent her shop—which also sells shortbread, brownies, and cupcakes—can figure it out. Regardless, The Daily Meal says the “addicting” cookie is one of the nation’s 10 best.

Mission: Extra-Chocolaty Chip Cookies

At Goody Goodie Cream & Sugar, the Old School chocolate chip cookie might be the menu’s best bet, and not just because it’s a classic. Pastry Chef Remi Hayashi claims that each cookie has a four-to-one chocolate-to-dough ratio.

Mission: Cracking the Cookie Equation

Anthony Lucas concedes that his background as a mathematician might contribute to his affinity for baking cookies with an appealing shape, texture, and fine-tuned flavor. Recurring favorites include whole-wheat oatmeal raisin, made with organic local oats, and cookies and cream filled with Oreo chunks.

Multiple Locations: Fresh French Baguettes

La Boulange bakeries dot the San Francisco cityscape, but each location’s French-style baking is consistent and authentic, thanks to founder Pascal Rigo’s training in Bordeaux and Paris. Along with organic baguettes, the bread and pastry menu includes croissants, lemon tarts, sticky buns, and macarons.

Inner Sunset: Sourdough Pizza

Alongside baguettes, english muffins, scones, and sweet focaccia, the ovens at Arizmendi Bakery churn out lauded sourdough pizzas. The bakers at this worker-owned co-op rotate bread and pizza flavors daily, leading some fanatics to line up by 11 a.m. in order to get their favorite on the appointed day.

Multiple Locations: Organically Minded Bakers

Organic flour. Organic olive oil from Tunisia and Spain. Organic walnuts, raisins, and pumpkin seeds. Acme Bread incorporates as many organic ingredients as possible into the more than 100 products on its menu, a sizable expansion for a bakery that once made only four types of bread.

Central Richmond: Irish Soda Bread and Sweets

John Campbell’s authentic credentials—he’s a master baker by order of the city of Belfast—lend credibility to a menu replete with classic Irish baked goods. Alongside loaves of soda, brown, and potato bread, there are mince puffs, shortbread cookies, and raspberry jam-filled tarts.