The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

If I only visit one bakery in San Francisco area, which one should it be?

Ivan.Z's picture

If I only visit one bakery in San Francisco area, which one should it be?


I'm Sacramento on business and will be visiting some friends in Monterey over the weekend, so I'll only pass through SF for a few hours. I'd love to use this as a chance to get a taste of 'real' San Francisco Sourdough. As true to the core as it gets. So which bakery would you recommend? Acme Bread? Something else?

By the way, is it worth the effort to buy some 'authentic' starter and go through the hassle of feeding it in a hotel room to take it back home some 2 weeks later?




yy's picture

I can't speak to authenticity, but Tartine's country loaf is my top recommendation. Just visit their website to make sure that you reserve a loaf 72 hours in advance.

As for the starter, I don't think it's necessary to do that. Once you take it home, the starter is going to take on whatever characteristics the local environment lends to it, so you might as well start one at home instead of nursing it while you're travelling.

Zoologuy's picture

A thirteen-minute walk (west on 18th & north on Church) from Tartine will get you to Thorough Bread and Pastry, the outlet for the San Francisco Baking Institute’s production area run by interns who've completed SFBI’s professional training. Reservations not required. Possibility to chat with actual bakers.

richkaimd's picture

You can always smear a thin layer of starter onto wax paper and once it is thoroughly dry peel it off, break it up into small pieces and carry it in a plastic bag.  When you get home, you can rehydrate it (dissolve it in water) and add a 50:50 solution of water and flour.  Leave that on your counter, and voila, it's alive again!   This will allow you to get on an airplaine with your starter, by the way.

clazar123's picture

Thorough Bakery-Very unobtrusive looking-I almost went right past it. It is in the middle of the block. It is a little hole-in-the-wall that has a quiet semi-enclosed patio out back.Very relaxing! I had the most delicious coffee and sweet roll I have ever had anywhere. It was a quiet,restful time after I had been touring the city on foot all day. The hardest part was picking only 1 pastry. They had sweet rolls,croissants,bread rolls, minicakes, and cookies. Everything was beautiful.

Acme-busy,mall-type location. Expensive-like all of San Francisco.Hard to find a place to sit.If you want to grab and go it works. The building is converted to a shops-all one on top of the other. The building is near/almost on the waterfront and there is seating along the outside of the building on the water side but it was quite crowded when I was there. Interesting shops and kiosks.

Tartine-I never made it there but my understanding is that it is sold out quickly due to its popularity. I was in the area after lunch so I didn't think I'd have much selection. I opted for Thorough Bakery and didn't regret it.

Buy some dry sourdough. I have an original Sourdough Jack going. The original dry mix was from the 60's but I found it at a rummage sale in 2010. I revived it and it is a WONDERFUL sourdough. It is true that your sourdough changes over time but this one has maintained a wonderful, wine=like aroma and taste. Dry soughdough travels well.

If you are dedicated enough to get a sourdough sample from one of the bakeries, just buy some wax paper,smear the starter very thinly on the waax paper to dry out and then take the flakes home with you. Or buy 1 lb of unbleached AP flour and rub 1-2 tsp of the wet starter with flour adding until  it is a "dry" powder. Either way works well.

Have fun-SanFran is my favorite city to visit.


BurntMyFingers's picture

Parking is very difficult/impossible in SF so that should factor into your plans. Tartine is in the Mission which is the worst... haven't been to Thorough but sounds like it is nearby. Acme is at Ferry Plaza which has public lots and is also a great destination in addition to a well set up commercial bakery. I'd recommend that for your quick hit, even though personally I prefer the breads at Tartine.