Visit to San Francisco
My wife and I recently finished a vacation with two days in San Francisco. We decided that visiting bakeries was a good way to navigate the city and see some new neighborhoods (at least new to us).
First stop was Acme Bread in the Ferry Building. A wide selection, and I opted for a sour baguette. Definitely a nice sour flavor. Excellent crumb and crust. This was good to munch on, and was the leader in finding a sourdough with the classic taste. (We decided not to get anything from Boudin, so I cannot comment on their bread, but they do seem to be everywhere.)
Next was the Mill (aka Josey Baker Bread). The photos posted on TFL showing a strong dark bake are representative. Again a fine selection available, and I chose another baguette. Really great flavor in the crust. The crumb was good, but not as distinctive as the crust. The atmosphere at the place was great too, with classic rock being played (from vinyl LPs no less).
Lastly for the first day was Arizmendi. My wife got a slice of pizza, and I purchased a standard batard. After two baguettes (and other food) already that day, I had no room for more bread, but I did take the loaf with me on the plane ride home. A nice crust (great blisters) and crumb. Certainly a solid bake, and no complaints.
The next day we began at the original Tartine. Knowing that we would be going next to the Manufactory where the bread is now baked, I chose a Pain au Chocolat, and my wife had a croquette. Both were superb. Hard to think that the little hole in the wall was where Chad Robertson set up shop and achieved his following. We then walked to the Manufactory, which is spacious and has a different vibe. For about an hour I stood and watched the team making baguettes. First the giant dough mixers, then the dumping of the dough, the pre-shaping, and then the final shaping. One person in particular made shaping a baguette look like child's play. Then we went into the main restaurant area, where I had a bowl of soup and some bread (a portion of a Basic Country loaf). Superb bread. Great crust and crumb. Easy to see why Tartine bread has become so popular. We got a loaf of the Country Bread to bring home.
If you are in San Francisco with some time to explore, it is simple to traverse the city via the excellent public transit system. We got a day pass and used our smart phones to find what bus we needed to get from one place to the next. (Thanks also to those of you who have posted suggestions of bakeries to visit in San Francisco.)