Guide to East Bay Bakeries
A baker’s dozen of purveyors of sweet and savory treats.
Bakery El Sol
Photo By Lori Eanes
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Too Pretty to Eat
What’s your downfall, pretty pastel macarons, fat chocolate éclairs, and sticky morning buns, or something on the savory side, perhaps just-baked croissants, salty Bavarian pretzels, or olive-studded loaves? Whether your taste buds run sweet or salty, our baker’s dozen guide to East Bay bakeries has you covered from Alameda and Berkeley to Emeryville and Oakland. Here’s a sampling of go-to bakeries that star pizzas and pies, sourdoughs and scones, ciabatta and cookies.
The ButtercuP Grill & Bar
The capital P in the name ButtercuP Grill & Bar stands for pie, and this American-style restaurant truly bakes some great ones. The family-friendly, five-restaurant empire belongs to David and Debbie Shahvar and is best known for its all-day breakfast service and ample portions. But remember the pies, especially the upside apple walnut pie and the blueberry streusel. The first is kind of a mess, but in a good way: It’s an inverted apple pie with a brown-sugar-walnut-carmelized glaze as the crowning crust; the latter takes whole blueberries and buries them beneath a cinnamon-y, crumbly topping. Not into apples or blueberries? No problem; there’s a pie for you, too, including key lime, banana cream, chocolate silk, coconut cream, and peanut butter cup, as well as seasonal pies, such as pumpkin, and even cheesecake. Pick up a whole one and wow your dinner-party guests. 1000 Cotton St., Oakland, 510-535-1640; 229 Broadway, Oakland, 510-444-2976; (also Walnut Creek, Vallejo, and Concord); www.ButtercupGrillandbar.com
—Judith M. Gallman
Bakery El Sol
Silver sheet pans piled high with sweets and bread line the walls at Bakery El Sol, near the Fruitvale BART station. The Mexican bakery inside the Fruitvale Public Market is doubly devilish as it offers delicious sweets at inexpensive prices. Willpower is tested when you grab a cafeteria tray and a pair of tongs and begin to walk the display cases. Flaky sugar cookies wrapped around raspberry jam, pillowy breads filled with custard, frosted sugar cookies, donuts, cakes, and cheesecakes; all quickly find their way onto your tray. Remember Bakery El Sol when the festival of Epiphany comes around as this bakery often bakes special kings’ cakes—rosca de reyes—a traditional delicacy occasionally difficult to find on the West Coast. 3340 E 12th St., Oakland, 510-534-5397
Feel Good Bakery
Alameda’s Feel Good Bakery places as much emphasis on appearance as it does on taste. The display cases in the Alameda Marketplace storefront are as much for the eyes as the stomach, with a colorful array of mini cakes, macarons, cupcakes, scones, and croissants. The whole spread looks like a collaboration between Willy Wonka and a French pastry chef. Neon slices of pie are quickly devoured while the macarons are served chilled, so it’s tough to wait for them to thaw a little before biting into the airy delights with flavors such as chocolate, lemon, raspberry, and vanilla. At $2 each, they can be worth the wait. And while you wait, Feel Good offers rotating savory options like a turkey, cheese, and tomato tort or focaccia with grapes and goat cheese. Sweet or savory, each item strives to live up to the bakery’s titular promise. 1650 Park St., Alameda, 510-864-2733, www.FeelGoodBakery.com
Wonder Food Bakery
In Oakland’s Chinatown, storefronts often reveal only a glimpse into what’s inside, but Wonder Food Bakery takes an opposite approach. The entryway, large glass windows surrounding an empty tile floor, suggests the bakery is out of business, but the clamor inside tells another story. Deserted turns to desserts beyond the doorway, the bakery’s pastries, breads, and cakes spilling off the counters and racks—mirroring the tables overflowing with people laughing, arguing, and snacking on a sugary spread. Pastries filled with an inexcusable amount of cream or custard will test your glucose tolerance, while large pineapple buns and flaky egg tarts walk the line between sugary and coma-inducing. Lost in the unmarked options? Start anywhere; your taste buds will thank you. 340 Ninth St., Oakland, 510-893-4193.
Hamburg-bred Anja Voth collects recipes from century-old German cookbooks and uses organic, local, seasonal, sustainably sourced ingredients to stock Gaumenkitzel’s bakery cases with breads, rolls, and other sweet and savory pastries that Hans Holbein and Hermann Hesse would have loved. Most popular at this full restaurant and certified green business are crumbly, buttery streusels, and salt-speckled Bavarian-style soft pretzels; multiple batches of the latter are baked here daily. The many tasks that Voth and her designer/husband/co-owner Kai Flache perform in-house include brewing fruit syrups and caramel cream, running whole oats through a flaking press and milling whole-wheat flour from kernels. Voth wakes to start baking well before dawn, just as the Grimm Brothers’ mother might have. 2121 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-647-5016, www.gaumenkitzel.net
Guide to East Bay BakeriesA baker’s dozen of purveyors of sweet and savory treats.
Photos by Lori Eanes