OK SoCal, you have the “best tacos,” but San Francisco eats, breathes, and sleeps bread. Yes, we really do breathe air populated with the yeast that makes our famous sourdough so dang tangy and full of mouth-puckering punches. Our bread matches exactly how we like our tech industry applicants: can function by itself but also works well with others.

Sarah Fung
Ariel Yue

How good can bread possibly get? Very! It isn't just about the taste; it's seeing Karl the Fog tumbling over the Golden Gate Bridge as you clutch a Dutch Crunch sandwich. Or, it's feeling the quads while facing rolling hills and the steepest streets as you carry groceries and a freshly baked baguette on your back. Bread is ubiquitous, sure, but it's enjoyed with one-of-a-kind views and the most eccentric locals waiting there in line with you.

Where are you headed?

Whichever neighborhood you find yourself in, you’re bound to run into some of many popular bake houses in The City. To start, I commemorate 13 classics in this carb-loaded compilation (the most true baker's dozen there ever was). Brace yourself to fill up on some of the most blissfully beloved baked goods in SF, the best bites to grab as you tour and get lost. Let's go!

Lower Pacific Heights—Kouign Amann from b. patisserie

Ariel Yue

It's primed for misspellings, but we wouldn't punish a "Queen Amann" since it's not entirely false. Luckily, this treat doesn't cost a royalty, rather the riches are found in its buttery contents. Gaze at the layers of hilly neighborhoods atop Alta Plaza Park while biting into the many layers of this delicately constructed pastry.

Inner Sunset—Pizza from Arizmendi Bakery

The character Anger from Pixar's Inside Out may have exploded at the thought of broccoli pizza, but once you've had a Bay Area sourdough pizza, there's no turning back. The style is similar to Berkeley's own Cheeseboard: a daily vegetarian topping, thin-crust pizza and walls of other baked goods to choose from. Coordinate your de Young Museum visit with the potato-corn topping day for a cheesy bite that's not too heavy.

Outer Sunset—Special Breakfast Sandwich from Devil's Teeth Baking Company

Sarah Fung

Breakfast foods will never fail you, especially when you cushion the crispy bacon, avocado, cheese, egg, and lemon-garlic aioli in a flakey, warm biscuit. You can feel the breezes of Ocean Beach from the humble storefront, but you're far enough to avoid seagulls sniping at your crumbs. After all, those are crumbs worth salvaging for yourself!

Noe Valley—Double Raisin Bread from Noe Valley Bakery

Both Twin Peaks and Double Raisin Bread have twice the fun and are local favorites. After driving down the two summits, swing by this cute bakery and ask for a loaf of bread packed with golden, red, and black raisins. The cross-section is more studded than the average SF hippie's ears (or face), so you can be sure each bite is full of chewy pops of candy-like sweetness.

Mission District—Country Loaf from Tartine Bakery

Sarah Fung

Tartine somehow managed to lock in an insane amount of moisture inside a hardy shell of crust. The country loaf has a rustic, resilient shell that protects its inner spongy and delightfully gummy texture. If you buy it straight from the oven, you can clutch the entire bread for long-lasting warmth as you tour the quirky shops on Mission St. 

The Castro—Almond Croissant from Thorough Bread and Pastry

There's no easy way to avert your attention from the brilliant pale yellow almond cream and powdered sugar dressing the almond croissant. Sure, what matters is on the inside...but this pastry has both looks and content. The smooth, rich filling completely takes over your tastebuds in a sweet sweep, leaving you with a desire for more. 

 #SpoonTip: If you choose to save the pastry for later, it's best enjoyed after being warmed up in the oven for a couple minutes.

Inner Richmond—Croissant from Arsicault Bakery

Holly Park

No one likes a flakey friend, but you'll want to get close with this plain croissant. As a result of being named Bakery of the Year by Bon Appetit in 2016, the owner of this establishment hardly sees an end to the extensive line of people outside. When you tear an ear off the croissant, it almost feels too destructive to the thin framework of layers, but you get over that as you continue to rip piece after piece into your mouth.

Marina District—Chocolate Croissant from Le Marais

Two streaks of chocolate rolled in a mesmerizing swirl of crispy, buttery pastry; it's almost analogous to the Golden Gate Bridge's lanes being enveloped by curled clouds of fog, wrapping the entire suspension. The pastry is also "golden" in its own right, both in complexion and in being the best of its league, evidenced by its robust chocolate flavor and tantalizing aroma.

Fisherman's Wharf—Sourdough Bread from Boudin Bakery & Cafe 

San Francisco's oldest continuously operating business is proof that our love for bread withstands ridiculously high rent prices and rapid changes in food trends. Boudin is the cornerstone of San Franciscan culture and embeds so many parts of food history in Northern California. Its sourdough also serves as a tangy foundation for great sandwiches or loaded toasts; the versatility makes it a staple in every kitchen.

#SpoonTip: For the full experience, the famous sourdough bread is best eaten as a bread bowl filled with clam chowder.

Chinatown—Dan Tat from Golden Gate Bakery 

Ariel Yue

Piping hot and vividly yellow, the esteemed egg tart, or dan tat, is always in high demand. In each bite, the silky custard melts in your mouth and leaves you with the buttery crust to savor. The business is family-owned and famous for having unpredictable hours of operation. This led to the creation of a customer-run site that crowdsources information to check if the bakery is open that day.

SoMa—Rugelach from Frena Bakery and Cafe 

Perusing the many stores lining Market St can get exhausting, but taking your window shopping a couple blocks to Frena Bakery will prove to be more enjoyable. The cases show lines of Mediterranean pastries to grab your interest, and the rugelach is a must-buy. It's more dense than a croissant and is accented with a cinnamon and chocolate spread. It's a perfectly sized snack boost to get you back into the hustle of Union Square.

Dogpatch—Almond Bostock from Neighbor Bakehouse 

It's much quieter in this outskirt of SF, an ideal place to go for a less crowded tour of the streets. Some of those crowds can still be found outside Neighbor Bakehouse, where its popular almond bostock resides. There is apparently a level above French Toast by way of an almond croissant upgrade that results in a brilliant square of almond cream-coated decadence. The almond slivers and powdered sugar freckle the top in a dazzling finish that also adds an extra crunch to each bite.

Tenderloin—Cruffin from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse 

Ariel Yue

This hybrid between croissant, donut, and muffin has a massive presence on social media that might challenge the status of your average celebrity. It's possibly more exclusive as well; this pastry tends to amass a line before opening and runs out quickly even for the early birds out there. Just to top it off, they fill these cruffins with creative flavors of creme like prickly-pear ube and horchata.

#SpoonTip: There are two lines to the bakery: a cruffin line and a regular pastry line; make sure you get in the right one!

Continue the adventure!

Sarah Fung

Many neighborhoods didn't quite crack this particular list, but there's always room for more dessert. Wander around Haight-Ashbury, the counterculture birthplace, or gaze up at the skyline while relaxing at Yerba Buena Gardens. When your legs are tired from hilly treks, SF will reward you with a bakery within every niche and nook of its streets. With the never-ending sights and activities The City has to offer, there's always a reason to come back and start the bread-venture all over again.

Honorable mentions

Cinnamon Currant Bread from Acme Bread Company

Biscuit from Brenda's French Soul Food

Apricotine from Les Gourmands Bakery