There’s a high probability that, at some point during the past year, you’ve thought to yourself, “I should probably try baking bread.” But by now, perhaps it’s probably dawned on you that baking is hard, and even harder to do well. Luckily, LA is rich with some of the best baked goods in the state, from Japanese savory pastries to luscious key lime pies topped with whipped cream. So here are 23 excellent bakeries to try, now that you’ve moved on from your intimate relationship with sourdough starter.
When one of our favorite stalls at the Grand Central Market announced that they were opening a stand-alone bakery, we wondered if they were ready for an expansion. But a bigger space just means that Clark Street Bakery has more room to do what they do best - namely, incredible pastries like the sticky, sugar-spun kouign-amann that tastes like a caramelized croissant. But if you’re looking for something a little heartier, our favorite menu item is the “Nordic Breakfast,” a massive platter that comes with a sourdough roll, Comté cheese, ham, butter, jam, and a hardboiled egg. This is the kind of simple, filling meal that makes you feel like you’re picnicking in the fields from The Sound of Music, or living the life of a humble farmhand. Which is kind of the best way to start the day.
This isn’t some corporate chain or eighth-wave coffee shop serving expensive pour-over. Friends & Family is an all-day cafe in East Hollywood where, as the name suggests, you feel like someone special. The olive oil fried eggs are crispy on the edges, and never too oily, making it one of the best morning dishes around, and we can’t leave without grabbing a loaf of sesame sourdough for later. There’s also a big case of pastries at the cash register, and you essentially can’t go wrong with anything in there. The white cheddar biscuit, bursting with cheese and baked dough, and is a good place to start.
The concept at Lodge Bread Co, is simple: great, unfussy food, plus a ton of extremely good bread. After their expansion to a larger space a few years ago, the Culver City bakery has morphed into not only a great place for baked goods, but one of the best all-day cafes in the city. Wood-fired pizzas are made with a soft, slightly sour dough. Romanesco salads are topped with tahina, raisins, and a bright-green Morrocan chermoula sauce. But the star of the show here is their cinnamon bun - enormous, as fluffy as a pillow, and slathered with icing, this dessert is a legitimate tourist attraction. And eating one is way more satisfying than getting a picture in front of the Hollywood sign.
This order-at-the-counter cafe/bakery is located inside a converted gas station in Los Alamos, CA, and a place where you can consistently expect hour-long waits on the weekends. But frankly, we’d wait multiple hours for their pastries and baked goods. The kouign-amann is salty, sweet, and profoundly buttery and the dense but flaky almond croissant has saved us from many wine hangovers. But if you’re in more of a sandwich mood, or looking to raid their daily bread case (flavors change daily), you won’t be disappointed by any of their loaves.
Superba is a full-blown restaurant on Lincoln in Venice. But in addition to serving things like steak frites and fried chicken sandwiches, they’ve also got a great selection of breads and baked goods. Our favorite is the sprouted wheat loaf which can only be described as unctuous, but if you want something on the sweeter side, try a cinnamon bun or any seasonal fruit galette. No matter what you order, be sure to get some whipped burrata on the side - it goes perfectly on any bread.
For anyone who’s ever stepped foot in Southern California, Porto’s should need no introduction. But just in case you need a quick refresher, the family-run Cuban bakery has been serving guava pastries, potato balls, and everything else under the Valley sun for the last 55 years. They’re the pride and joy of Burbank, and you should come here (or any of their other locations) any day of the week to join the line of 100 other people waiting to worship their trademarked papa rellenas, which are deep-fried and filled with more meat than an Arby’s tagline. And since Porto’s is a well-oiled machine, they’ll have you in, out, and eating pastries for lunch alone in your car in 10-15 minutes.
The San Francisco transplant now has three locations in LA (Santa Monica, Silver Lake, and Sycamore) That means no matter where you are in the city, you’re never too far from satisfying your bread-related needs. The obvious choice here is to go with their signature sourdough, which is baked in-house and tastes kind of tangy, perfect for sopping up runny eggs. But they’ve also got an entire roster of other grade-A lunch/brunch foods that shouldn’t be missed, like bacon and chive scones, bologna and tomato sandwiches, and crusty, bubbling margherita pizzas made using that almighty sourdough.
Anaheim’s Little Arabia neighborhood has one of the largest collections of Middle Eastern restaurants on the West Coast, and you could frankly spend an entire weekend here trying all the excellent spots. But if you only have time for one, make it Forn Al Hara. This family-run Lebanese bakery specializes in manaeesh, the Levantine flatbread that comes topped with everything from sujuk and labneh to cheese and eggs. You can argue with your friends and family all you want about which is the best, but when the flatbread is as fluffy and perfectly baked as it is here, it doesn’t matter what’s on top of it - it’s going to taste incredible. Be sure to snag one of their sweet, noodlelike knafeh for the drive home.
If you leave Gjusta without some bread or baked goods, you’re not to be trusted. In addition to a full food menu, this Venice establishment has a huge variety of bialys, bagels, and sourdough loaves and baguettes. You’ll want to try everything, and their baguettes are hard to beat, but focus on the pumpernickel and olive loaves if you haven’t had them before. Even the butter you hopefully spread on top will be in awe of their herby notes and spongy texture. Meanwhile, it’s impossible to go past the pastry case and not consider at least five things. The ham and cheese croissants are the best we’ve had outside of France, and even those who believe vegetables have no business being in cakes will approve of the carrot cake.
Rex Bakery on Sawtelle is a tiny, Persian bakery whose signature item is the cream puff. Light and flaky, these are the kind of pastries you’ll eat three of in one sitting and not even realize it. All that said, our favorite thing behind the case is the shirini napelini. Layers of crunchy pastry are filled with a sour, tart homemade cream and topped with a slightly sweet whipped cream that balances the whole thing out. Grab a box of nan-e nokhodchi, bite-size chickpea cookies with cardamom, and you’ve got yourself an excellent dessert haul. Just know that they’re cash only.
Sometimes, when the days get really long, and every night seems to blur together, we slip into a very specific daydream - one where we cut off all our hair, move to the Danish countryside, and go by a new name. Whenever that daydream hits, we head to Copenhagen Pastry. The brightly lit bake shop has more Danish goods than an Ikea showroom, filled with pretzel-shaped kringles, butter cakes, loaves of rye, and, if you come on the weekend, special breakfast rolls. They cost just $1 each, and are made with a soft white bread - the perfect vehicle for any jammy eggs or jellies you might have on hand.
While eating the pies and baked goods from this Grand Central Market stall, you might get hit with a wave of déjà vu. Maybe you’ve eaten it in a parallel universe, but most likely it’s because you’ve eaten at Fiona, the now-closed Fairfax restaurant was run by Nicole Rucker. The pastry chef has returned, this time with Fat & Flour in Downtown LA. She’s brought those signature pies back with her, offering them in flavors like rhubarb cherry and Key lime topped with whipped cream, as well as a variety of brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and raw cookie dough. Pies are sold day-of by the slice, preorder them whole through their website.
Some people may think the words “gluten-free” and “vegan” have no business in baked goods. But those people are wrong, and obviously have never been to Just What I Kneaded. Besides excellent baking puns, this bright and airy Frogtown shop serves dairy-free scones, cookies, turnovers, and galettes (many of which are GF). They’re located right next to Waxpaper, and churn out giant cinnamon rolls that come with (what feels like) a pound of icing, and their signature Poptarts, decorated with everything from Snoopy illustrations to seasonal horoscope depictions.
The tiny Japanese bakery in downtown Anaheim has only been open since 2018, but their original location in Japan has been baking tremendously savory breakfast pastries and desserts since 1986. We haven’t tried one thing here that we don’t like, but the spicy curry pan with Japanese-style vegetable curry wrapped inside deep-fried, panko-crusted dough and any type of Japanini all need to hit your table. They also make their bread with flour imported from Hokkaido that makes each loaf stay light, fluffy, and moist for days.
To be clear, this is a twice-a-week pop-up run by a lady named Kate who just happens to be, like, the Kate Moss of baked goods. Pick-ups are held on Wednesday and Sunday, and include a stellar rotation of chocolate croissants, flour-dusted raisin loaves, and savory pies stuffed with vegetables then baked until golden. Check out her Instagram for all the latest updates, plus some of the most interesting bread imagery on the internet.
Open since 1952, La Mascota’s bakery space on Whittier Blvd. in Boyle Heights has been heavily renovated over the last few years, but the baked goods are better than ever. That includes pan dulce, fresh bolillo, and a flan worth driving across town to get. Most people in line (and yes, there will always be in line) come here for the tamales, though. Our favorites include the rich, chocolate-y chicken mole and the slightly spicy chili rojo. You can get a dozen for $24, and if you want to skip said line (of course you do), order ahead through their website.
This legendary Chinese bakery has everything you need for a dessert-heavy feast, including traditional favorites like strawberry cream cakes and freshly steamed buns. Crackly deep-fried butterfly cookies go perfectly with a cup of tea, and flaky almond pastries glow like the sun and are filled with sweet red bean paste. Whether you need to pick something for Lunar New Year (it’s never too early to start planning), are taking a trip to your grandma’s house, or just want a tiny little action figure to add to your mantle, Phoenix Bakery has got you covered.
The lines at this cute Atwater bakery can get long on the weekends (we’re talking new-sneaker-store-on-Fairfax lengths), but with some planning and lots of patience, you’ll be treated to a treasure trove of pastries, croissants, and bread loaves. Rotating sandwiches come on crusty baguettes, ideal for long road trips or munching on at the park. Fluffy brioche buns are airy and light, and the chocolate chip cookies are what we wish every chocolate chip cookie tasted like - soft and sprinkled with sea salt. The energy here is friendly, neighborhood-ly (you’ll definitely see a young family or two that will either quell or fuel your baby fever), and is exactly the kind of place you should come after a long week of being cooped up in your apartment.
You can find Rockenwagner’s products in grocery stores all over LA, but if you want your baked goods straight from the source (not be confused with your source being a baked good), head to Culver City. Their tiny little storefront carries the freshest versions of their incredible pastries, including crusty baguettes, olive breads, super soft brioche rolls, and jalapeño-cheddar pretzels we’d happily bring along to any sort of picnic or amusement park outing.
Between the symmetrical rows of potato-stuffed croquettes, cranberry cheese walnut bread, and melon pan filled with sweet custard, browsing through Roji Bakery’s pastry selection is like entering the gates of heaven. If heaven was filled with excellent baked goods, that is. This new Japanese bakery in Beverly Grove churns out beautiful, picture-perfect pastries on a near-daily basis (they’re closed on Tuesdays), like slightly purple potato danishes, savory curry pan, and an almond cookie-encased chocolate croissant that combines all of our favorite things in the world. Everything here looks like it was ripped straight from a well-curated Pinterest mood board - and luckily, tastes just as good as they look.
This Long Beach bread company serves some of the best baked goods in Southern California. They’re 100% committed to using only naturally leavened dough (code for no commercial yeast), and only bake using organic flour. And it shows - their country loaf is thick and dough-y, ideal for dipping into beef stew and pretending you’re an extra on Game of Thrones. The kouign-amanns are salty and sweet, and the sticky buns combine the texture of a buttery croissant with the flavors of pecans. If you’re heading to meet some friends (or are just extra hungry), grab one of their assorted pastry boxes - it comes with six sweet treats, based on “availability, farm selection, and whims of our chefs,” and we like to think of it like a breakfast omakase.
Down in Long Beach, Gusto Bread is an organic panadería specializing in pan and pan dulce made with 100% natural yeasts. You’ll find beautiful seeded loaves, studded with sunflower, pumpkin, and poppy seeds that go perfect with a cup of coffee, or just a quick smear of butter. Semi-sweet pan loaves are made with a house-milled yellow corn, and conchas come with a thick sugar cookie frosting and can be eaten throughout the day. They also carry a rotating list of weekend-only specials, like jalapeño cheddar biscuits and strawberry jujube tamales, so make sure to check those out as well.
Between their knock-out pastries, astrology-themed name, and some of the best graphics in town, Gemini Bake House is like that one girl in high school who had perfect hair, was well-adjusted, in every club, and (unlike us) never had a hint of pubescent acne. In other words, they have it all. Run by husband-and-wife duo, Conor and Hannah Smith, Gemini Bake House holds pickups and deliveries every Tuesday through Sunday in Silver Lake (with a brick-and-mortar location on the way), where you’ll find crusty olive loaves, bagels by the dozen, focaccia studded with rosemary, crumbly apple pies, and seasonal jams. Or, if you really can’t decide, go for the brunch box - you’ll get four bagels and four baked goods of your choice.