There’s a high probability that, at some point during quarantine, you’ve thought to yourself, “I should probably try baking bread.” But by now, perhaps you’ve realized that baking is hard to do, and even harder to do well. So here are 15 excellent new bakeries to try now that you’ve moved on from your intimate relationship with sourdough starter. They all have managed to open during the pandemic, offer takeout, and will make you reconsider spending the majority of your next stimulus check on a high-powered standing mixer.
If restaurant takeout windows were given awards for their service over the last year, Wildair would win for widest range of pastry pop-ups. Once a fancy LES date night spot with an incredible tasting menu, this lower Manhattan pick-up place is now known for its rotating menu of things like plum brioche donuts, fresh churros, olive oil cake, and yuzu sesame cookies. They typically drop new pastries on their website every Wednesday at noon, and pre-orders sell out fast. So if you want one, follow along with Instagram full of bold infographics made with disco fonts you’ll want to pause and stare at in awe for several minutes.
Leo reigns supreme in all things sourdough. From baguettes and loaves to homemade bagel sandwiches with lox, this Williamsburg spot will give you the tangy carb moment you likely never knew you needed. They even have a weekend-only pastry box you can order online, including a rotating menu of things like sausage rolls, chocolate chip cookies, and plump bomboloni filled with pastry cream. For dessert, Leo offers rotating options like orange olive oil cake with fig and peach jam and salty honey buttercream.
Being vegan and enjoying great restaurants is incredibly easy in NYC, especially with all of the new plant-based spots that continue opening month after month. Le Petit Monstre is one of the standout bakeries that has opened in Clinton Hill, right around the corner from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It specializes in French pastries like kouign amann, cinnamon rolls, and danishes, but the huge cafe also sells houseplants, coffee, and other home goods. If you want to check it out but don’t live in the neighborhood, you should know there’s a Citi Bike rack right outside of the front entrance.
If there were an award show for at-home bread bakers, we’d hope the owners of Back Alley would present a golden loaf to the winner wearing Valentino gowns on Zoom. This delivery-only bakery was started by two chefs who worked at spots like Blue Hill at Stone Barns and The Grill (respectively) before the pandemic hit. Now, they’re focused on baking excellent bread, honey buns, brown butter cookies, and beignet-like doughnuts, which are all available for delivery across most of Brooklyn, Thursday through Sunday.
When you need a sourdough loaf or a BLT on ciabatta bread in Park Slope, head to Winner Cafe & Bakery. Best known for their fresh bread, Winner’s daily bake schedule begins at 8am with dark rye and runs until 2pm when the sourdough baguettes make their way out of the oven. This is important information because they tend to sell out of most of the day’s bread by 3pm. But if you’re just looking for iced coffee, sandwiches, cookies, or some monkey bread, you can stop by their takeout window just off 7th Avenue and order whatever you see available on their chalkboard till 7pm every day.
Paulie Gee’s is lucky to have Edith’s. In fact, we’re all lucky to have Edith’s. So go ahead and stop by early one weekend morning and wait in what will probably be a very long line for some excellent bagel sandwiches and morning pastries. This Jewish pop-up in Greenpoint regularly sells out of most of its menu within hours of opening, and for good reason. We’re convinced their fantastic, chewy bagels would make Julia Child shed a tear if she tried them and whichever one you try will likely make you want to do the same. All jokes aside, don’t miss the shakshuka morning bun - if this brioche challah roll with a runny egg, spicy tomato sauce, and crumbly cheese baked in the middle doesn’t make you want to squeal, we have nothing in common.
Mel on the Lower East Side focuses on artisanally-milled flours and heirloom grain varieties - a sentence that could reasonably induce eye-rolls or outdated Portlandia jokes you make even though they aren’t funny anymore. But bread head or not, it’s easy to love this bakery whose owner spent the spring diagnosing the ailments of strangers’ sourdough on Instagram. Any of the loaves you try at Mel will be springy to the touch, crusty on the outside, and essential for your at-home lunches. They're open to the public Wednesday through Sunday 9am to 3pm, and usually run out of loaves within a few hours of opening on weekends.
Fan Fan Doughnuts is a pastry shop on the corner of Franklin and Lafayette Ave in Bed-Stuy. It’s from the people behind La Newyorkina and the Dough doughnut chain, and they specialize in fan-fans (a mashup between long john doughnuts and eclairs) filled with things like guava and cheese. The rest of the menu involves a rotating list of unusual flavors like raspberry-black currant or yuzu meringue. And while you’ll probably never find a plain old glazed donut, Fan Fan does offer some simpler options like glazed braids, vanilla bean, and Mexican chocolate.
You probably have heard about the Tribeca French bistro Frenchette, but you might not know that they opened a new bakery in the neighborhood in October 2020. It’s actually in the old Arcade Bakery space which is essentially an indoor to-go window on the bottom floor or a brutalist skyscraper, and it’s home to some of the flakiest Sicilian pistachio croissants, crustiest baguettes, and perfectly-charred pizza in the city. They usually sell out of everything before noon on weekends, so get here early if you want to try any sweet or savory pastries.
While this Prospect Heights spot isn’t technically a bakery or known for vegan food, it’s where you’ll find a range of the best vegan pastries anywhere in the city. Their vegan hot buns are about the size of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s fist, served fresh from the pan, and coated in icing that tastes dangerously similar to cream cheese frosting. But what really sets this bun apart is the liberal use of orange zest - it balances every sweet bite with just the right amount of citrus. Leland Eating & Drinking House also has excellent vegan banana quinoa muffins, sourdough loaves, focaccia, and more available for pre-order online or at their takeout window on Dean Street.
On the surface, High Low Beverage Company looks and sounds like a beer bar. And while that’s true, this Bushwick spot is also a Vietnamese restaurant and bakery serving banana muffins baked in banana leaf, pandan doughnuts filled with sour cherry lime leaf jam, and miso scallion scones. This lineup of incredible baked goods is only available Friday-Sunday, and if the weather’s nice you try them all at a patio table in High Low’s spacious backyard.
Joy Cho, a former pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern, lost her job due to COVID-19 and launched a weekly baked goods delivery service from her parents’ kitchen in Ohio. Now she’s back in NYC selling her curated pastry boxes through her website. For now, she’s going all in on gem cakes - her creative mashup between a donut and a pound cake - which come in a range of flavors like maple-almond, misugaru, matcha-coconut, and black sesame. Half-dozen boxes of these colorful bundt cakes are available for pick-up in Clinton Hill every weekend, and you can find more updates on the chef’s Instagram.
Bushwick’s newest empanada spot is a Columbian bakery from two chefs who met while working at Butter & Scotch in Crown Heights. It’s a colorful cafe with blue and white tiling on the floors and pink paint on the walls, where you can pick up meat and vegetarian options like, chicken, kolache, plantain, and chickpea curry empanadas by the half or whole dozen. They also run a monthly pastry box subscription program, so if you want to get a collection of empanadas, sugar cookies, and other sweets delivered straight to your door, sign up for next month’s box on their website.
Daniel Skurnick, a pastry chef who used to work at Le Coucou, is now running a small bakery based out of an apartment in Crown Heights. He specializes in classical French baked goods that look like the kinds of things you’d point at from behind a glass counter in Paris. Think tarte tropézienne, a brioche pastry filled with crème légère and topped with almond crumbles, raspberry mille feuille, and more. You can place a pre-order by sending a DM to the bakery’s Instagram, and expect to pay with either Venmo or Paypal when you pick it up this weekend.
After being furloughed at the start of the pandemic, the chef and owner of Anti-Conquest (AQC) Bakery started making bread and donating it all to protesters, activists, and essential workers throughout the series of police brutality protests following the murder of George Floyd. Since then, AQC Bakery has been selling experimental milk bread made with Thai sticky rice and heirloom wheat, sourdough boule, and fresh sandwich loaves from a shared kitchen in Carroll Gardens. For now, everything is available for pick-up and nothing costs more than $12.