Going beyond baguettes and muffins, bakeries in the Milwaukee area embrace ethnic traditions while folding in locally harvested or procured ingredients for a new angle to locavore eating. From churros and empanadas at Lopez on the South Side to pastel-colored macarons and fruit tarts at Le Reve Patisserie & Café in Wauwatosa, here’s where to go.
A popular Saturday-morning stop since it opened in 2014, giving those closer to the lake the chance to scoop up some of the best baguettes in town, Rocket Baby Bakery is a favorite among bakery lovers. Loaves of bread here are divine—like the Cranberry Walnut Sourdough—but so are the individual treats, like monkey bread, chocolate croissant and Kouign Amann (pastry from Brittany, France). This is about as close to a European-style bakery as you’re going to get.
In business for nearly half a century, this Italian bakery fits right into the neighborhood’s Italian-immigrant vibe (there’s an Italian grocer, Glorioso’s, next door). Sunday’s ham-and-rolls deal is very popular but so are the colorful and sugar-y Italian cookies sold by the pound daily. These include biscotti, macaroons, chocolate-dipped cookies and more. Loaves of bread are competitively priced at under $3. Classic Italian pastries are also available, like cannoli, hazelnut cream horns and limoncello cake.
Blooming Lotus Gourmet Bakery
Catering to sweet tooths on a vegan or gluten-free diet, Blooming Lotus Gourmet Bakery’s items do not contain nuts, dairy, egg or grain. On the menu are chocolate cakes, cupcakes (like the spice cupcake with toffee frosting), scones (folding in fruits and nuts), cookies (from “seed energy” to Colossal Cherry Pecan Chocolate Chip), muffins (unique flavors include pumpkin-gingerbread and apricot-fig) and chocolate bars. Craving a baked good and lunch? Add on a bowl of soup, like the spicy chili with “no corn” corn-bread muffins. Sip a cup of Valentine Coffee’s coffee or Rishi Tea, two hometown companies that are brewed at the bakery.
One of the city’s best Mexican bakeries, Lopez has one location—there used to be three across the city—on Mitchell Street. You can also find Lopez at the South Shore Farmer’s Market in Bay View Saturday mornings. Tamales are one of the bakery’s most popular items. Drop by just before “Dia de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) and you’ll find decorated cookies and breads in bright, vivid colors. Fruit-filled empanadas are another popular item.
While Le Reve is a restaurant, the ground floor is a café and features to-go pastries and other items. Tucked into Wauwatosa’s charming village, on a curved street on slight incline, you might think you really are in Paris. Macarons are so good that locals drive across town for a half-dozen but the decadent cakes and tarts are just as worthy, including Opera Torte, Napoleons, Paris-Brest and Feuilletine.
When Simma’s Bakery doubled its space by expanding into the adjacent storefront, this created a café for seating as well as even more pastry cases. A popular bakery for custom wedding, birthday and special-occasion cakes, one of the flagship treats is raspberry-lined, chocolate-ganache-covered cheesecake. But you’ll also find éclairs, cream puffs and petit fours. If you’re in need of mini treats for an afternoon tea, this is the place to get them.
On the ground floor of this food hall--at C. Adam's Bakery--are sweet treats like red-velvet cupcakes, thick slices of carrot cake and more, crafted at the hands of owner Lisa Crum. Pro tip: pair with a glass of sparkling wine at Thief Wine next door (also in the market), which invites you to bring in food purchases from the market. Typical breakfast pastries are sold here, too, including scones, danishes, biscuits, muffins, morning buns and cinnamon twists.
A favorite bakery for couples on their wedding day, Aggie’s Bakery & Cake Shop in Greenfield bakes and sells cupcakes, cheesecakes, tortes and mini pastries—all rich in flavor. Classic pastries like donuts, crumb cakes, elephant ears, muffins and fruit dumplings are available daily. European specialties include pecan fingers around Christmastime and strudels year-round. Coffee and espresso beverages brewed from Stone Creek Coffee are also available as the perfect pairing with these sugary indulgences.
Open in the Third Ward since February of 2018, Batches shares ownership with DanDan across the street (an Asian-fusion restaurant). Owner Jaceleen Latin-Kasper, who used to be head pastry chef at DanDan, bakes a collection of gluten-free and vegan pastries with pride, as well as seasonal delicacies and crowd pleasers like confetti cookies. There's a rush every Saturday morning for cinnamon rolls--available only until they sell out.