The Best Bakeries In SF

Buttery croissants, fresh pan dulce, perfect baguettes, and more.
The Best Bakeries In SF image

photo credit: Aubrie Pick

In this city, sourdough is as much a part of life as analyzing fog patterns, and "Who makes the best croissant?" is a never-ending debate. That's because the city is filled with so many incredible bakeries. You can get everything from caramelized kouign amann and perfect pan dulce to, yes, phenomenal croissants (if you know where to look). So when you want to carb load with the best, use this guide. 


photo credit: Carly Hackbarth



$$$$Perfect For:BreakfastCoffee & A Light Bite
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Arsicault in the Richmond always has a line, even when it's 55 degrees out ("California cold"). Join the horde of cyclists, families, and tourists—this French bakery/to-go window pumps out the city's finest croissants. The must-order is the almond version, a buttery masterpiece that unleashes a confetti-like cloud of sugary, crispy flakes with every bite. Also load up on fluffy ham and cheese croissants, kouign amann with ultra-caramelized bottoms, and chocolate chip cookies. If time is minimal, the Civic Center outpost rarely has a wait.

As you might guess by the name, this Chinese bakery in the Sunset specializes in pineapple buns, and they're not your standard bolo bao. There are a near-overwhelming range of fillings, and if you ate here every day for a month you'd miraculously never have the same thing. They come with slabs of melty guava butter, salted egg custard, matcha mochi and red bean paste, barbecue pork, and more. Fill a box with at least a dozen of the pillowy beauties, and hot dog buns and egg tarts, and picnic up at Golden Gate Park.

The kalbijjim croissant from Jina Bakes will change your life. It’s stuffed with well-spiced short rib (made at Daeho), and topped with mozzarella cheese that's torched until bubbly and charred. It's just one of many examples that show off the Japantown bakery's pastry wizardy, and balanced flavors that typically involve a Japanese or Korean twist (never leave without a bag of butter mochi). Cream puffs are generously filled with hojicha or matcha cream, and perfectly stretchy injeolmi croissants are covered in chewy rice cake and roasted soybean powder.

B. Patisserie smells like ten tubs of butter. That’s reason enough to go Order Everything Mode at this Lower Pacific Heights bakery. Another is the fact that they've been spreading the kouign amann gospel for over a decade. They are the best in town, with sugary shells and stretchy, butter-soaked inner layers. Ordering a box of simple plain is one foolproof plan, as is never passing on the seasonal flavors, like mango passionfruit, chocolate churro, or corn cheese. Keep the sugar high going with some fruit tarts, bostock, and cakes from the dessert case. 

Butter & Crumble is a palace of all things pastry. And everyone knows it—the North Beach bakery attracts block-long lines of butter enthusiasts who line up daily for impeccable croissants. The ones here won’t weigh you down for the rest of the day. Each is light and crackly, with inner layers so thin they’re transparent. The menu rotates, but expect playful twists, like the bacon, egg, and cheese croissant with a gooey egg yolk, or the seasonal peppermint bark pain suisse that tastes like a candy cane had a baby with a brownie. Also know that a visit here is null and void if you don’t order the pistachio cardamom croissant. It’s dusted with sugar and piped full of velvety pistachio cream you’ll want to eat by the scoop. 

The salted chocolate babka from this Jewish and Levantine-inspired bakery is so swirly and beautiful that they could induce hypnosis. It’s why we’ll always cancel our AM plans and get to this pink-toned Hayes Valley cafe for a relaxed morning meal, which always includes some strong espresso. Also get the flaky bourekas filled with warm ricotta and sage, and a slice of chocolate cake filled with velvety espresso buttercream, which you should absolutely eat for breakfast.  

photo credit: Melissa Zink

$$$$Perfect For:BreakfastBrunch

Staring longingly at the case of hefty Cantonese dim sum (and then buying one of each) is the classic move at Good Mong Kok in Chinatown. You can get a couple of bags from this takeout-only institution for less than $10, and the portions are massive. They serve generously stuffed baked barbecue pork buns, squishy hot dog buns, and sesame balls that walk the line between perfectly soft and crisp. You’ll probably have to wait for them since a steady stream of people pack this place to grab an on-the-go breakfast or lunch.

Even if you’re coming in for a quick pastry to go, Day Moon will have you making small talk with strangers for hours. Time slows down at this minimalist bakery, which perfectly aligns with the Outer Sunset's no-rush energy. Just take a seat at an outdoor bench and strike up a conversation about organic dog treats or the surf forecast. A trip here isn’t complete without trying their tangy sourdough baguettes, tart upside-down cakes, or a simple butter and Toma cheese sandwich on a seeded roll. 

This all-day Russian cafe and bakery has savory piroshkis, flaky pastries, and a never-ending menu of cookies, tarts, and cakes (there's also a full menu of entrées). Basically, this Richmond spot, which has been around in some form since the 1950s, is the one-stop shop for all the warm, sweet, savory, and comforting pastries that'll make you feel like an overused cable knit sweater. The rest of the neighborhood knows this, too, since there’s always a line, and people warming up on the parklet over some meat-filled pelmeni or delicate honey cakes that nail the light, spongy texture every time. 

In a world where full-time jobs are optional hobbies, every morning would start with a long breakfast at The Mill. You could spend hours at this NoPa cafe and bakery gazing at the frequently changing art installations and watching stylish neighbors getting their daily caffeine dose, especially if you stay fueled by their phenomenal Josey Baker Bread. The whole-grain sourdough is tangy and crusty, and serves as the base for toast (what this place is known for) topped with things like smashed avocado, cinnamon and sugar, and ricotta and seasonal housemade jam.

This longstanding Mexican bakery has been around in one form or another since the 1950s, and they're still serving some of the best pan dulce in town. The bread is baked at their Bayview production facility, and driven over to their pink and purple Mission storefront in between Capp St. and 24th. As you'd expect from one of the city's best panaderías—their pan (especially their conchas) are always fresh and moist—two qualities that not everyone nails. The selection varies from day to day, but count on grabbing a tray and picking a mix of conchas, flaky empanadas, savory telera, and a few bolillos. There's no seating, but no one will stop you if you devour everything on the sidewalk outside.

Yvonne’s Southern Sweets is sugar rush central in Bayview. The takeout-only bakery, which has been holding it down with Southern pastries and baked goods for over 20 years, is only open a couple days of the week, but their palm-sized, caramel-laden pecan pie alone is worth rearranging your schedule for. Other reasons to drop what you’re doing and get here for a midday sweet: the simple yet impeccable butter cookies, and the 7Up cake slices with a deep golden-brown crust. 

Tartine—ever heard of it? San Francisco’s most famous bakery in the Mission has gone global. There are locations in LA and Seoul, cookbooks, and spin-offs like Tartine Manufactory. At the heart of what makes their influence so far-reaching is their legendary bread. The Tartine team has nailed it, and you should absolutely experience one of their rustic country loaves at least once in your life. You’ll stand in line for it, so make sure to pair the bread with standout chocolate croissants, morning buns, and eclairs while you’re there. 

Most of the baked goods at this counter-service Asian-inspired bakery in the Richmond rotate, so there’s always something new to try. One day you might tear into a macadamia nut croissant tart, and the next, a summer morning bun filled with gooey apricot jam. Whatever’s on the menu will likely be the best (and most creative) thing you’ll pop in your mouth all week. But you don’t have to leave everything to chance. The kaya toast, a slice of milk bread with zig zags of bright green pandan jam and sea salt, is a creamy flavor bomb that never leaves the menu. 

You love biscuits? You’ll become a regular at Kahnfections. The Mission bakery is turning out classic buttermilk and bacon and cheddar-filled biscuits that are fluffy and, well, perfect. Getting them in sandwich form is the smartest decision you’ll make all week—you can choose from fillings like avocado, ham, or chicken. For a place doing high-quality biscuit sorcery, it’s no surprise that they’re a well-rounded baking operation. That means there’s no going wrong with their scones, muffins, morning buns, croissants, or mini quiches, either.

Looking for Chinese baked good utopia? Garden Bakery, a tiny cash-only spot in Chinatown, is stocked with every kind imaginable. The pastry selection has a range. Sponge cakes puff up like hot air balloons, the egg tarts show off the flakiest crust, and the pineapple buns are usually still warm when somebody pulls one off a tray and hands it to you across the counter. Whether you’re stopping in for a small snack or filling a box to the brim, you’ll always find the sweet treat you’re craving. And unlike nearby Good Mong Kok, there’s never really a line. 

The city’s only German bakery is churning out excellent treats that are as beautiful as they are delicious. There are a ton of options: traditional honey-topped bee sting cake, the layered prinzregententorte, an ultra-light Black Forest, and so on. The pastries and pretzels at Hahdough are top-tier as well, so consider popping into the small space for a light and fluffy seasonal jam or custard-filled Berliner. There’s a Hayes Valley takeout window, but the NoPa bakery has a bigger selection, and a few tables in back to enjoy immediately. 

The Special Breakfast Sandwich from Devil’s Teeth needs no introduction. Here's one anyway: if there was a biscuit sandwich Olympics, this one would win gold. It's a stack of perfectly scrambled eggs, avocado, bacon, pepper jack, and a smear of lemon-garlic aioli that really ties the handheld knockout together. The Outer Sunset bakery (there’s another outpost in the Richmond) also does pretty classic pastries, including cookies, quiche, and a fantastic icing-less cinnamon roll. 

Where the Castro meets the Mission sits Thorough Bread and Pastry. The French-style bakery is where we like to eat our body weight in croissants (specifically of the almond variety), sticky buns, gougères, and apple galettes. Get a few, or more accurately, a lot of pastries, and sit on the relaxing, plant-filled patio out back. And with any place that’s achieved baking mastery, expect a line, especially on weekends (be sure to grab a baguette to go as well).

El Yucateco in the Mission serves excellent Mexican pan dulce classics and coffee. What sets them apart are their Yucatecan specialties like the hojaldra, a decadent puff pastry filled with ham and cheese that's the perfect savory-sweet combo. For something a little lighter, all signs point to the eggy cocotazo. The space is tiny (there’s just one table inside), so expect to eat your baked goods on the go.

If Cheers was set in a bakery you’d have Black Jet Baking Co. It’s the uber-friendly neighborhood pastry powerhouse in Bernal Heights (we wouldn’t be surprised if the people who worked here knew everybody’s name, too). It’s currently operating as a takeout counter, so check out the rack in the front window full of fresh baked cinnamon rolls, ham and cheese croissants, morning buns, cookies, and homemade Oreos (the menu changes daily). If it’s sunny, pop over for something to snack on before a hike at one of the nearby parks. 

This worker-owned cooperative bakery with locations in the Sunset and Mission is a trusty steed. We rely on them for savory baked goods that are denser and heartier in comparison to what you’ll find around town. Check out the self-serve cases: Corn muffins, scones, focaccia topped with artichoke hearts or mushrooms, cheese breads, and pecan rolls will beckon, tempting you to buy one of everything. This place doubles as a pizzeria, so never fight the urge for a taste of whatever super chewy sourdough slice is on the schedule for the day. 

Thanks to the model train in the window, we’ve walked by this Noe Valley spot a few times thinking it was a hobby shop even though it is in fact an awesome bakery. There’s usually a line, but the bread and pastries are worth it, and it gives you time to dream about starting your own service that’ll be the “Uber of bread delivery.” Whether you roll up to this one or their West Portal outpost, take a few of their not-too-tangy-not-too-sweet lemon tarts, any of their seasonal mini cupcakes, or a loaf of onion sesame bread to a birthday or dinner party, and you’ll be a hit.

Out of all the Jane bakeries, this one on Geary is carb central—it’s where you’ll find the most pastry options and an assortment of bread, from fragrant loaves of sourdough and ciabatta to cinnamon raisin pan bread. They also make fantastic croissants, morning buns, and very moist coffee cake. Jane is a pretty simple operation with limited seating: walk up, order at the counter, and be on your way. And for anyone who's ever wasted time parallel parking on an incline, there's a dedicated parking lot.

It’s hard to not hop in line whenever you pass Vive La Tarte. Come to this bakery and cafe for their pastries, like their turmeric monkey bread that’s more spicy than sweet, but they also have a full breakfast menu if you have time to inhale more than just some fancy bread. The stars are the seasonal croissants, which are basically desserts masquerading as breakfast, but we’re not complaining about that. We especially like the mocha and strawberry versions—but the regular ones hold their own, too.

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