The East Bay is home to some fantastic restaurants of all sorts. From ethnic cuisine to high-end fine dining, Berkeley has its fair share of great selections in just about every restaurant category. Sometimes, though, a pastry, cake, or cupcake is just about the only thing that sounds like it would hit the spot. Don’t worry; Berkeley’s culinary excellence extends to its bakeries. Check out the list below for some of my picks of the best bakeries in the city. Did your favorite not make the cut? Know of a great new gem that deserves a place on the list?
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Masse’s is perhaps best known for its delicious and beautiful macarons, which come in various colors and flavors. This isn’t all they have to offer, though, and the variety of creative and beautifully prepared pastries and cakes are worth going back for again and again. If you need to order a cake for a special event, Masse’s is a great option, but be sure to call in advance and make sure they have enough notice.
For several years, I worked just a few doors down from the Bread Garden Bakery and frequently enjoyed what it had to offer. Like many others, I was sad to hear it was closing and was a bit skeptical about the new bakery coming to replace it. Fortunately, Fournee Bakery has turned out to be great. While it doesn’t have quite the same mood or offerings as the Bread Garden Bakery did, it is excellent in its own right. Better yet, it serves pizza five days a week! If you are in the neighborhood or were a fan of the former bakery who hasn’t yet managed to get over that loyalty, stop by – it really is worth a visit.
Sweet Adeline is open daily and serves a variety of sweet and savory delicacies. The savory options mean that it’s worth a visit anytime, not just for a morning pastry or an occasional sweet afternoon treat. They also serve sandwiches for lunch, and a variety of beverages. In other words, it’s a great place to go for a full meal rather than just to grab a cookie or croissant to go. They also sell whole cakes, some of which are seasonal, so they’re a great option if you need an elegant and flavorful last-minute dessert for a party or event.
La Farine Bakery (Berkeley location)
Solano Avenue is known for its exceptionally good shops, and La Farine Bakery is no exception. Some of the prices may seem a little high, but the products are well worth it. They manage to be both flavorful and beautiful. The flavors here tend to be solid, classic flavors rather than the sometimes crazy and experimental options you might find at other bakeries in the area. This isn’t a bad thing, though – sometimes the classics, executed perfectly, are exactly what hits the spot. While they formerly made wedding cakes, this is no longer the case, so do not count on being able to order one from this particular bakery.
Hopkins Street Bakery, located in that delightful cluster of shops on Hopkins Street, changed ownership a few years ago. While some say the quality has decreased noticeably, I find it to be as good as ever – and, therefore, deserving of a place on this list! They have a wide selection of pastries, cakes, cookies, and breads available for immediate purchase. For special occasions and events, such as weddings, you can order custom cakes made from high-quality ingredients and fresh fruit from the nearby Monterey Market.
If you’re a vegan or need (or simply prefer) to avoid gluten, but can’t bring yourself to give up delicious baked goods, Nabolom Collective Bakery is the place to go! They have quite a few treats that are either gluten-free or vegan and even a few selections that are both. If your dietary choices are more open, there are plenty of traditional bakery options here too – you won’t be limited to only gluten-free or vegan selections. Thanks to its location in the charming Elmwood neighborhood, you’ll also have plenty of choices for places to window-shop as you stroll around enjoying your baked goods.
Love at First Bite is one of those quaint, cute little places that you can live in the area for years without ever knowing about. It’s tucked away a little bit, just enough that you may not see it unless you’re specifically looking for it. With that said, it’s well worth looking for. The baked goods here are absolutely delicious, and the flavors tend to be creative but not over-the-top. The selection is more limited than at many other bakeries; you’ll find yourself choosing mostly from a variety of cupcakes and slices of cakes.
The flavors available change daily, meaning there is always a great reason to stop by if you’re in the area.
La Bedaine is more than just a bakery. It also offers some great options for heavier meals, including French favorites like ratatouille, beef bourguignon, and coq au vin. In addition to these hearty dishes, though, you’ll also find various baked options that tend to stick with the overall French theme of the restaurant. Your options will include, for example, a pain au chocolat, a poached pear tart, or a chocolate éclair.
If you’re like me, you may be more familiar with Sconehenge as a brand of scones and scone mixes sold in stores than as a full bakery (and restaurant!) in its own right. If you’re in the mood for a great Mexican breakfast, this is the place to come. That might not be what you would generally expect to eat at a restaurant of the company so well-known (and named) for its scones, but somehow scones and great Mexican breakfast food go a lot better together than you might think.
Vital Vittles focuses more on breads than the pastries, cakes, and cupcakes you might find at many other bakeries in the area. If that’s what you’re looking for, this is the perfect place to go. The loaves here are all made of organic whole grains using high-quality ingredients. That attention to detail explains the bread’s great flavor, and why you can easily find it in many stores in the Bay Area.