I love bread. From baguettes to bagels and from roti to rye, I love all breads and would consider them my favorite food group. When I heard that my personal bread-heaven (if one can even have such a thing), San Francisco's Tartine Bakery, was opening a location in Berkeley, I knew I had to be there the moment it did. And so I was. In the rain, at 6:45 am, on a day that I didn’t even have class until noon. Call it bread-ication to a cause, or maybe just a carb addiction.

Opening Morning Energy

Maggie Gallagher

Even before the doors were open or the sun was up, Berkeley’s newest bakery was poppin’. Berkeleyans, apparently, love bread too. As the clock ticked towards 7 am on opening day, the line at Tartine grew to stretch down the block, full of bleary-eyed college students waiting for cappuccinos to power through their 8 am classes and sharply dressed professionals grabbing a bite before heading into the city. To use a popular internet aphorism, all of Berkeley truly said, “Let’s get this bread.”

Entering Bread-Heaven

Maggie Gallagher

And then it happened: the doors to Berkeley’s very own Tartine Bakery opened, and suddenly it didn’t feel so early, or so cold and rainy, or so overkill to be there for the bakery’s very first moments. Upon entering, I was greeted with the cozy feeling that comes with the scent of freshly baked pastries and bread, and the excitement of knowing that coffee and breakfast were now only moments away.

My fellow Spoon University at Berkeley members and I, naturally, had already pored over the menu and were ready to order rapid-fire upon entering the quaint bakery-café (Tartine’s smallest establishment to date!). I stepped up to bat as the newest Tartine’s third-ever customer and ordered a savory scone and morning bun, though I would’ve happily ordered every pastry in the case had my wallet allowed it.

#SpoonTip: Tartine offers a 10% discount for UC Berkeley students, faculty, and staff with a valid Cal ID.

The service was cheery and quick, and within moments of ordering I had my pastries in hand, ready to eat. I had to momentarily brave the rain to go outside and around to the lounge area attached to the back of the bakery, inside the Graduate Hotel. My pastries survived and so did I, and I had perhaps never been readier for a breakfast in my life.

A Sensational Savory Scone 

Maggie Gallagher

I first went for the savory scone—because if you eat something savory first, you can justify the subsequent sweet thing by calling it dessert, even if it’s 7 am and they are both technically breakfast foods. The scone was soft and buttery, surrounded by a small skirt of crispy melted cheese and packed with chives and red peppers. I often find scones to be hard and dry, but this one avoided both of those pitfalls. I enjoyed tearing off the crispy craggy bits from the top and found that the inside was moist and held together well. I easily polished it off and headed onto the next: Tartine’s iconic morning bun.

A Great Morning Bun

Maggie Gallagher

The morning bun is truly a sight to behold. Golden brown coils of dough gently sit atop each other, covered in sugar and a subtle orange glaze, surrounding an incredibly soft center that everyone knows is the best part. I worked my way through the bun methodically, being sure to savor each bite and to eventually find myself at the center of the dough spiral. The outer layers were shatteringly flaky, subtly citrusy, and basically the best laminated pastry I’ve ever eaten. The center I worked to save for last was a beautifully soft, melt-in-your-mouth bite, still warm from the oven where it’d been just minutes ago. The combination of all the butter folded into the dough, citrus glaze seeping throughout, and crunchy bits of sugar on top made for a spiritual experience. I think I’m now going to date my life in terms of pre- and post-morning bun experiences.

Verdict: Tartine is South Berkeley's Finest

Maggie Gallagher

Tartine’s Berkeley location lived up to the hype. It was cozy, warm, and its pastries were phenomenal—a wonderful reprieve from the chilly early morning rain just outside its doors. If there’s ever any question about where to find me on a weekday morning (or really, any time of day in Berkeley), it’d be safe to bet I’m sitting in the warmly lit lounge of South Berkeley’s new favorite bakery, stuffing myself with pastries. I wouldn’t wake up before sunrise to stand in the rain for many places, but I’d gladly do it all over again for Tartine.