Sourdough and ciabatta, panettone and pumpernickel, boule and brioche. Artisan-made bread comforts and nourishes like no other food: It can not only remind you of home but also be a gateway into new cultures and cuisines. Good bread is all over the globe, which is why we’ve put together this list, to help you discover the best bakeries, from Paris to South Korea, the ones that will have you planning your next trip there before you’ve finished your last bite.
San Francisco, California
There’s a good reason Tartine has won kudos from food legends like Alice Waters: Owners Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson ushered in a bread revolution a few years ago when they started using wild yeast and heritage grains to make their mouthwatering loaves. At this modern-looking but warm café in the hip Mission District of San Francisco, they bake seven types of bread, excelling at sourdough, grain porridge bread and Danish-style sprouted rye. Robertson makes everything fresh daily in a 5,000-square-foot manufactory a few blocks away from the café, which is well worth a visit for a full meal — though you might want to plan an extra hour or so, since there are often long lines.
Tartine Bakery & Café
600 Guerrero Street, San Francisco. Tel. (415) 487-2600
These unassuming storefronts have a big name behind them: Claus Meyers, whom you may know as a partner in legendary New Nordic restaurant Noma (which, it’s worth noting, reopened in early July after a massive reconceptualization). Meyers has his hand in most creative culinary projects across Denmark, it seems, and this is his flagship bakery, with a couple of locations in Copenhagen and two new ones in New York City. In the windows, pastries and sweets tempt while behind the counters the bread rests: All are made with organic, heirloom grains that are stone-ground on-site. Try the sourdough or dense Danish rye for an authentic treat, and take home a classic Danish “snail” (cinnamon roll) for later.
Jægersborggade 9, 2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark. Tel. 21-92-46-79
New York City, New York
Unlike most of the bakeries on this list, you can’t visit She Wolf’s brick-and-mortar store—it’s too unconventional to have one. While cheffing at a well-known Brooklyn neighborhood restaurant called Roman’s, owner Austin Hall started coming in early to bake his own bread; it quickly took off. Now those in the know wait in line at one of five greenmarkets across the city or visit a few restaurants (Marlow & Daughters Butcher Shop, Roman’s, Achilles Heel) to get their fix. Almost all the breads contain live sourdough cultures and are naturally leavened, creating an addictive depth of flavor. She Wolf offers quite a few delicious breads, but the selection of sourdough is most impressive: Try the classic; a Pullman loaf for sandwiches; or our favorite, maple and oat.
She Wolf Bakery
NYC Greenmarkets in Manhattan (Union Square, 97th and Columbus, 78th and Columbus) and Brooklyn (Fort Greene and McCarren Park). Tel. (718) 486-7091
Matsudo City, Japan
Forty minutes by train from central Tokyo, in Matsudo City, you’ll find a German-influenced bakery with a die-hard following: Lines start at 6 a.m., and sit-down service at the café requires a reservation. With a little planning, though, you can choose from more than 400 types of breads and pastries, all made with natural yeast and flour that the bakery has milled itself. Don’t miss the eponymous Zopf, a sweet, braided milk bread similar to challah, or the Japanese curry bread (think fried white bread with stewlike, curried vegetables inside), especially the katsu curry bread, which has a fried pork cutlet inside. There are also French breads, bagels and rolls for those with traditional Western palates. Whatever you choose, you’ll be charmed by the Japanese farmhouse atmosphere and rows upon rows of mouthwatering baked goods.
270-0021 Matsudo-shi Koganebara 2-14-3, Matsudo City. Tel. 047-343-3003
It might seem odd to venture under the railway arches in East London and listen to the whistle of trains, but we’ll give you four reasons: a fantastic bread bakery, café, school and cake shop. The location may be odd, but the quaint, picturesque interior with big swooping arches above a grand display case of baked goods suggests that you’re about to eat something delicious. The team, headed by Ben Mackinnon and Eyal Schwartz, consists of folks with all sorts of academic degrees in other fields, from neuroscience to theoretical psychoanalysis, who have come together over their mutual love of bread. They use sustainable grains that are grown and milled in the U.K. The signature bread, a country loaf called Hackney Wild, the sourdough pizza on Sundays and the currant buns with oats offered every day make this place a true destination.
395 Mentmore Terrace, London. Tel. 44-20-8525-2890
Asheville, North Carolina
This is another bakery that requires a little hunting down. It doesn’t have a location that’s open to the public, but it’s well worth dining at All Souls Pizza and Buxton Hall BBQ or visiting a local grocery to sample Farm & Sparrow’s wares. David Bauer stone-grinds organic whole grains — many of them heritage — on-site and bakes his breads in a custom wood-fired oven. He’s so well known that people have traveled from as far as the Czech Republic to study with him. Sample tried-and-true treats like the market bread, made with stone-ground wheat, or go for unusual options like the Einkorn, an ancient wheat that was the first to be domesticated. Also be sure to taste the heirloom grit loaf, made with regional heirloom corn: The wheat dough is filled with cooked grits, and then the loaf is rolled in dry grits, for a sweet-toasty combination.
Farm & Sparrow
Available at All Souls Pizza, North Asheville Tailgate Market or Asheville City Market. Tel. (828) 633-0584
Head to the exclusive Miraflores neighborhood of Lima to try Jonathan Day’s handiwork. A Lima native who has worked as an engineer and actor as well as a baker, Day studied at Tartine before experimenting with his own recipes for seven years. El Pan de la Chola specializes in breads made with local grains and Andean pseudocereals like quinoa and kiwicha, and his sourdough and focaccia with olive oil are the stuff of legend. The café is as cute as the bread is delicious, with vintage furniture, distressed wood and metal design flourishes and a long wooden counter adorned with baskets bursting with bread. Watch the masters at work in the open kitchen and bakery.
El Pan de la Chola
Av Mariscal La Mar 918, Miraflores. Tel. 51-1-2212138
This trio of excellent boulangeries in a city of great bread comes from a family of bakers: Philippe Gosselin; his wife, Catherine; and his brother, Pascal, carry on their parents’ and grandparents’ legacy, earning a place in the Best Baguette of Paris competition every year since 1996. At their three centrally located bakeries, which practically define the look of a good Parisian bakeshop, with bright lighting and open cases full of baked goods, you’ll find a selection of baguettes, brioche, pain au levain, rolls and gourmet breads with olives or cheese among other delights.
123 Rue St. Honoré, Paris. Tel. 01-45-08-03-59
The best Italian delicacies are designated DOP, which stands for Denominazione d’Origine Protetta (“protected designation of origin”), and there’s only one type of DOP bread in the whole country. Called Pane di Altamura, it’s almost exclusively found in the town of Altamura in Puglia, which is well worth a visit. Forno Antico S. Chiara is one particularly well-known bakery (its oven dates to 1423), but any bakery selling Pane di Altamura will do. According to specifications, the bread must be made of hard wheat flour, it must be baked in an oven that uses oak wood, and its crust must be at least 3 millimeters thick. It’s that hard exterior that keeps the bread from getting stale — for weeks. At Forno Antico S. Chiara, grab a loaf as well as some focaccia and friselle and sit outside at the one lone table to try your goodies.
Forno Antico S. Chiara
Via Luca Martucci 10, Altamura BA
Seoul, South Korea
Deep in the heart of Itaewon, an expat-friendly hot spot in Seoul, you’ll find what could be an upscale French bakery — except for its delightful South Korean twist. Owner Jeong Woong makes all types of excellent breads, from fig bread and red bean bread to baguettes and a dark-grain boule with dried orange. Vegans will be happy to note that they can eat most of these treats too, as the bakery is known for its plant-based recipes. Be sure to come early, though, as most delicacies sell out by early afternoon.
24, Itaewon-ro 49-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. Tel. 02-749-9481