On January 30th, a very important occasion must be marked by all of us: National Croissant Day! The glorious croissant, a classic French pastry that chefs love to reinvent, and we fall in love with over and over again, is alive and well in San Francisco—even if you can’t always recognize it. It hides in the cruffin, the Mr. Holmes Bakehouse answer to the East Coast cronut. It poses for Instagram as the ‘tacro’, Vive la Tarte’s latest invention. It’s sprinkled with taro root and matcha, and we have a feeling it couldn’t be happier. So, now, where should you go to find the creative croissant and its fancy pastry friends? Here are our top 5 picks for local French pastries. Just don’t try them all in one weekend.
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Noon All Day
Tucked away in the Dogpatch, new Noon All Day offers quite the European experience of dining on the edge of a park (Esprit Park, in this case). Inside, along with salads and sandwiches, you’ll find some of the most creative pastries in town. The winning carb here is the danish, filled with kimchi, sprinkled with purple taro root or stuffed with a savory mushroom paste. The dessert case is no slouch either, with decadent mousse options to ginger cakes and more. And everything, needless to say, is highly photogenic.
690 Indiana St
Vive la Tarte
The latest reincarnation of the croissant is the Tacro, a filling puff pastry shell stuffed with savory fillings, and it proudly belongs to Vive la Tarte. With two locations, one in the Ferry Building and another in the SoMa, this heaven of precision and taste rules the city with its classic brioches, quiches and pain au chocolate. The Tacro, available only at the Ferry Building location, is the wildest creation to come out of the well-known bakery yet, and in the best traditions of trendy pastries, it often runs out before noon.
1160 Howard St
Thank you, @jasmineraecakes for introducing me to Arsicault Bakery. (Also recommended by our Airbnb host). One of the best things I ate in SF was the everything croissant filled with cream cheese that Jasmine special ordered for our #jrcworkshops. Theirs was my favourite kouign amann as well-caramelized and crispy on the bottom and rolled so that you get that sweet crunch in every bite.
Without an online menu or an Instagram account, this small Richmond bakery is, nevertheless, one of the best French outposts in town. Selected as one of the country’s best bakeries in 2016 by Bon Appetit, no less. Arsicault Bakery specializes in French staples, like the buttery, flaky kouign amann (a folded sugary pastry), the tiny fruit tart, the soft brioche, and, of course, the most addictive of all—croissants. As expected, the Bon Appetit announcement didn’t go unnoticed—on weekends, lines are long, so make sure to get there early.
397 Arguello Blvd
The croissants here might be dreamy, but the Pac Hights institution shines the brightest when it comes to stunning and creative patisserie-inspired desserts, from the colorful macaroons to the rich mousses, from the apple tarts to complex beauties involving passion fruit and flourless chocolate cake. Another point of interest is seasonal takes on classics, like the black sesame kouign amann and their ever-changing quiche offerrings.
2821 California St
Le Marais Bakery
One of our picks for the most Instagrammable spots in San Francisco is this bakery. There are two locations, one in the Marina and another in the Castro, and both are adorably French and quaint. The two locales offer delicious, full-flung lunch and dinner menus, but we’re here for the sweets. The selection includes, among other items, sticky brioche buns, airy Madeleine cookies, irresistible tattlers and the tiny, yet lethal, choux a-la creme, buttery puffs filled with sweet creamy fillings. The ultimate weekend compensation for the week’s malfunctions.