These days, words like artisanal, organic, in-house, Ryan Gosling, and other tags meant to make your food sound sexier get thrown around quite a bit. A bakery is a bakery, you might think. What makes it artisanal?
According to our good friends Merriam-Webster, an “artisan” is a worker “who is skilled at making things by hand.” Applying this definition to baking implies that the process in question must be done entirely by hand.
Artisan gets thrown around so often that some worry it has lost the heart of its meaning. These 18 standbys, however, peppered across the country and run by bakers who put their souls into bread and pastries, showcase what it means to be a true artisan of baking.
1. Alabama – Continental Bakery
If you can resist their colorful sweets, check out Continental’s handcrafted loaves. How can you not love bread that loves you back?
2. California – ACME Bread
Look past that avocado and yolk pairing for just a second. What is that thick, crispy slice peeking out from underneath? That, my friend, is genuine ACME bread. Called the source of the artisanal bakery movement, this San Francisco standby is most famous for its sourdough, but cooks up a breadth (haha #getit?) of other varieties.
3. Connecticut – Isabelle et Vincent
A mountain of French baguettes in the distance. Not a bad view. Pair one of those crispy bad boys with Isabelle et Vincent’s famous chocolates for a sinful and delicious snack (or entire lunch – your choice).
4. Florida – Zak the Baker
What is the logical sequel to an artisanal bread movement? Why, fancy artisanal toast, of course. If you haven’t seen avocado or goat cheese toast on the internet yet, you’re probably not on the real internet. Zak the Baker is clearly on the real internet.
5. Hawaii – Bread House
These people are doing some crazy sh*t. No, seriously. That’s a full sausage baked into that loaf.
6. Illinois – Hewn
As the sign out front informs passersby in Evanston, Hewn sells “hand forged artisan bread.” Their pastries are delicious too, and we couldn’t resist throwing in this picture.
7. Indiana – Amelia’s
Nothing says, “Come on in,” quite like baguettes longer than the lower half of your body.
8. Maryland – Bread Furst
Touted for the extraordinary energy of its owner (who first brought European baking to DC over 25 years ago but only started this company in 2013 at 75 years old), Bread Furst offers a wide variety of products, from daily varieties of whole grain to challah and corn rye.
9. Massachusetts – Iggy’s Bread
You can’t go anywhere in Boston without running into Iggy’s. Their main storefront is in Cambridge, but their bread is sold at farmer’s markets, artisanal grocery stores, and restaurants throughout the city, including Darwin’s, Cutty’s, and Mike & Patty’s (the glorious ish pictured above).
10. New York – Hot Bread Kitchen
Not only do they churn out crusty hand-crafted bread, they also operate on a program called “HBK Incubates” in which they assist start-up food businesses all across New York City.
11. New Jersey – The Flaky Tart
Okay, we know that isn’t bread. But is that not the most beautiful cake you’ve ever seen? The Flaky Tart calls itself an “artisanal bakery.” Go scroll through their Instagram, and you will see why. Only the most skilled pastry artists could create a selection that looks like that.
12. Ohio – Dan the Baker
If you live in 21st century America, you’re probably absurdly indecisive when it comes to food. After all, we want it all, even if guac is extra. Not to fear: DTB created Toast Bar, with an option for sampling three different loaves of bread with three different spreads.
13. Oregon – St. Honoré Bakery
The cutest boulangerie in Portland. You can buy their bread and pastries whole, or sample them at brunch.
14. Rhode Island – Seven Stars Bakery
Although they were dubbed one of the best places to get croissants in Providence, Seven Stars is so much more. You’ve seen biscuits before. But that picture takes “golden brown” to a new level.
15. Tennessee – Dozen Bakery
It isn’t just nostalgia for childhood breakfasts that we feel when we look at this egg-in-a-hole. Dozen Bakery fries it up on their sourdough bread, made in-house every day.
16. Texas – Empire Baking Company
We know you just saw one toast-and-egg photo. But this one came from the institution known as “the vanguard” of the artisan bread movement in Texas, so are you really mad? Didn’t think so.
17. Vermont – Red Hen Bakery
Pea soup nestled up next to crusty whole wheat. A flaky croissant nestled up next to Vermont cheese. Sounds like our kind of date night.
18. Washington – Le Panier
We truly don’t understand how French people aren’t obese. If we lived in a city lined with patisseries carrying croissants, macarons, and brie sandwiches like this one, we wouldn’t have a prayer.