Frice Pastry & Philippe’s Bread
4082 N Williams Ave., 971-266-8348.Ask Kurt Huffman how much his restaurant empire ChefStable used to spend on bread, and he’ll answer quickly: “A lot.” Bread markups are high, and for restaurateurs with a stake in as many spots as Huffman—Ox, Ración, St. Jack, Grüner, Lardo—developing your own baking operation makes sense.
Now Huffman has Frice Pastry and Philippe’s Bread. Sharing a North Williams storefront with Lardo, the operation has a big, airy kitchen. Peek past the loaves stacked on utilitarian wire shelves and you’ll see bakers scooping butter from vats beside a machine that looks like R2-D2. That’s a $25,000 gadget called a fermentolevain, and it keeps liquid sourdough starter at its ideal temperature. The natural yeast gives a nice tang to Lyonnaise native Philippe Garcia’s bread: chewy ciabatta; flaky baguettes, some with sesame seeds or olives; walnut-studded campagne loaves.
Sweets are an even better reason to visit this light-flooded space, its window-side counters lined with vases of freshly cut tulips. They’re prepared by Alissa Frice (née Rozos), former pastry chef at St. Jack. In addition to her familiar madeleines ($4 a dozen, baked to order) and a refined lineup of brioche, scones and croissants, there’s a glass display case filled with kaleidoscopically hued tarts and mousses, all $5.
The banana cream tart is a classy version of the perennial summer-camp dessert, and a milk chocolate bombe with apricot puree is decadent but not overwhelming. My favorite, though, was a little cake Frice calls a chiboust. Cut just larger than a Jenga block, it layered springy green tea custard and a band of lemony yuzu gelee, with chocolate threads zigzagging across the top. It was light and faintly sweet and a little grassy, like the first whiff of summer. REBECCA JACOBSON.
Shopping list: Olive baguette, madeleines, matcha-and-yuzu chiboust.
Grand Central Bakery
714 N Fremont St., 546-5311, and six other locations, grandcentralbakery.com.
The sheer ubiquity of Grand Central’s loaves—you can find them at New Seasons, Whole Foods and Fred Meyer, not to mention at seven of the bakery’s own outposts across the city—makes it easy to take this Seattle-Portland institution for granted. But don’t. The rustic breads (including the chewy como, tangy peasant levain and hearty multigrain) are great for sopping up soup; the breakfast and lunch sandwiches are robust; and the U-bake selection is extensive, from pizza dough to pie crust to puff pastry. And the jammer, that flaky buttermilk biscuit with a crater filled with berry jam? It’s damn near perfect. REBECCA JACOBSON.
Shopping list: Campagnolo bread, triple-chocolate cookie, jammer, ham tosti.
Ken’s Artisan Bakery
338 NW 21st Ave., 248-2202, kensartisan.com.
Tech guy-turned-bread geek Ken Forkish saved his best for first. Ten years in, stellar loaves still issue from the bakery space that dominates a nondescript Northwest Portland storefront. In the tightly packed seating area out front, the same breads form the foundation for about a dozen sandwiches described on a big blackboard overhanging cold cases filled and topped with a theme park of pastries, each silently shrieking, “Eat me!” Don’t leave without a cannele or chocolate croissant, and fergodsakes, try to be patient with the tourists. MICHAEL C. ZUSMAN.
Shopping list: Walnut bread, chocolate croissant, cannele.
Little T American Baker
2600 SE Division St., 238-3458; 1022 W Burnside St., Suite O, 894-8258; littletbaker.com.
Little T’s tiny new Union Way pourover coffee-shop spot is really just a new waypost for the same old loyal eastside customers to pick up their pan de agua on their way home from their downtown office without rushing across bridge traffic. And then on the weekends, though, they grab kouign amann pastries and luxuriate with time to spare. Meanwhile, at the wholesale level, Little T’s trademark rustic baguettes are the eternal answer at the end of all queries about a restaurant’s breadbasket. The place is enough of a staple that eventually you’ll see the sign change: Big T. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Rustic baguette, pan de agua, sweetly Southern sally lunn.
939 NW 10th Ave., 208-3113, lovejoybakers.com.
Lovejoy has been expanding of late, from its wholesale bakery on Division Street’s restaurant row to the under-construction new location in the Southwest Waterfront. But like Dwell magazine, Dan Griffin’s original Pearl District cafe seeks the finer things in simplicity. Baking racks clot the entry of a bustling lunchtime eatery that stacks the bakery’s loaves with lamb meatloaf and green beans or a duck confit with banh mi fixings. But the heartiest delight at Lovejoy remains its deeply structured rye studded with caraway seeds, perhaps the best of its type in town. LYLA ROWEN.
Shopping list: Caraway rye, scones, olive ciabatta, vegan Hale bar.
Marsee Baking Outlet
9100 N Vancouver Ave., 295-4000, marseebaking.com. Closed weekends.
Need a quick carb fix? If you’re in North Portland, a short drive through the Columbia Slough brings you to a large parking lot in front of a warehouse, next to the late, lamented MLK Fashion Plaza. Here, Marsee stuffs one tiny room with the excess cookies, breads and pastries from its morning wholesale orders—an ever-changing selection that, on one given day, included a wealth of rich, creamy gourmet cheesecakes for a mere $3 apiece. Pour yourself a cup of Stumptown coffee for a dollar while you inspect the frozen Bundt cakes, and get there early for the best selection. ADRIENNE SO.
Shopping list: Frozen apricot bars, elephant ears, take-and-bake baguettes for dinner.
102 NW 9th Ave., 827-0910, pearlbakery.com.
When Pearl Bakery opened in 1997, the Pearl was hardly the Pearl. Post-condo boom—and post-real estate crash—the surroundings are slicker, but this airy corner cafe remains ever reliable. Seemingly always filled with retirees munching on oatmeal raisin cookies or cornmeal pound cake after visits to Powell’s, it’s an ideal place to pick up a couple of crusty baguettes for that night’s fondue or a sandwich to go (think roasted eggplant on ciabatta or Black Forest ham on pain au levain). Pro tip: For only $3, a PB&J on paesano will send your taste buds back to grade school. REBECCA JACOBSON.
Shopping list: Seasonal bressane, kalamata olive ciabatta, fig-anise panino, chocolate bonbons.
5051 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 971-279-5530, taborbread.com. Closed Monday.
In Portland’s unofficial Old World-artisanal sweepstakes there are no competitors at all: Tabor’s Fife Boule whole-wheat bread is made from grain milled in-house using an East Tyrolean grinder so pristinely beautiful it looks like a wood-carved toy for giant children with domesticity hang-ups; the dough is baked in the residual heat of bricks fired the night before. The shop rotates its pastry selections frequently, and some favorites are available weekends only, such as the sticky buns and doughnut muffins. Available daily for purchase are loaves, granola and a variety of grains and flours. Try the rye, which is required to sit untouched for one full day after baking so that it can finish. Tabor Bread also makes many of its own savory-sweet jams, relishes, butters and marmalades. The shop’s ample outdoor seating is also pretty much a perfect way to spend a sunny Portland day snacking, snipping and world-watching. JENNIFER GILROY.
Shopping list: Rye Pullman, Red Fife boule, doughnut muffin, and apple, caraway and bacon scones.
Mei Sum Bakery
8001 SE Powell Blvd., 777-3391.
Chinese pastries are not a strong point in Portland compared to the vast freshness and variety in strongholds like San Francisco or New York. But over my years of ping-ponging around tiny fronts like Gary’s on Division or bakery-closet Meianna in the Fubonn center or the older-than-old-school King’s, it’s the bright, cramped and friendly Mei Sum that I’ve developed a sneaking affection for, from its neon pineapple custard buns to its egg tarts and pork buns and little sponge cakes with frosting-sculpted bunnies and flowers. Very little costs more than a buck, so experimenting comes cheap, as does your entire day’s meal if you go savory with the hot-dog buns or ham and cheese. Plus, the huge banner near the cakes makes you feel like you’ve walked in on a surprise party every time you go. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Egg tart, pineapple custard, hot-dog buns, cupcakes.
Fleur de Lis
3930 NE Hancock St., 459-4887, fleurdelisbakery.com.
A spacious Hollywood neighborhood bakery generally filled with parents and toddlers, Fleur de Lis isn’t quite as old-school as, say, Helen Bernhard, but it’s also not reinventing any wheels. But who cares? The pastries—fruit-filled croissants, lavender shortbread cookies, flaky crostata filled (on our visit) with gooey rhubarb—are still plenty satisfying. Hungrier than that? Owner-baker Greg Mistell, one of the original owners of Pearl Bakery, also offers a full breakfast menu and a long slate of lunch sandwiches, a few named after notable Portland women: The Beverly Cleary has house-roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickled red onions and tomato. REBECCA JACOBSON.
Shopping list: Salted caramel brownie, palmier, golden-raisin fennel scone, multigrain loaf.
3333 SE Division St., 971-279-4433; 2335 NW Thurman St., 445-4342; 315 1st St., Suite 103, Lake Oswego, 496-5596, sainthonorebakery.com.
The decade-old Saint Honore is freshening up a bit with a Division Street location focused on food of Alsace and ciders of the Northwest. Still, the shop’s Northwestern in another way—that sourdough tinge to the addictively sweet-sour baguette, the splendidly custardy apple-toast pain perdu and master baker Dominique Geulin himself all stem from Normandy, on France’s northwest coast. Saint Honore sometimes feels a little like a museum replica of a French cafe, it’s true—with prices similar to museum gift stores, and patrons whose age and socioeconomic demographic skews the same way as museumgoers—but the bread and pastries are fresh as they come. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Normandy apple toast, croissants, Parisian baguette.
Fressen Artisan Bakery
523 NE 19th Ave., 953-3222, fressenartisanbakery.com.
Fressen, in German, means “to eat like a wild animal.” It’s not polite. Every now and then, apparently, an elderly German woman will wag her finger at the bakery’s farmers market stall for its naughty name. But at Fressen Artisan Bakery’s tucked-away cafe outpost, owner Edgar Loesch is almost preternaturally approachable, eager to show off the bakery’s sterling potato breads, beer breads and ryes. It seems, in fact, like he’s having the time of his life. The bakery’s housed in a half-industrial section of near-Northeast Portland but is nothing if not domestic, bolstering its basic grains with a wide selection of sandwiches and croissants that offer a gentle reminder that the form was minted in Austria, not Paris. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Nutella croissant, lavender shortbread, Christmastime almond-rum stollen
The German Bakery
10528 NE Sandy Blvd., 252-1881, the-german-bakery.com. Closed Sunday-Monday.
Welcome to Oma’s unfussy kitchen and family commissary. Sure, the sign says “bakery,” but it’s also a lunch counter, a deli, a grocery, a wine stube, a T-shirt store and maybe the only place in Portland you can buy a German flag without feeling weird about it. Pick up your sausage, sure, but what’s a cheese and sausage plate without Partybrot (sesamed-up single-serving bread bits baked together like the chicken-meat pizza crust at Domino’s)? Fressen’s got ’em beat on pretzels, but Grandma knows her strudels and pigears and creamhorns, and Grandma wants to make you cake. Pick up, as well, the pumpkin-seed rolls with seeds the size of your eyes. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Pigear pastry, Black Forest bread, whole-seed mustard, würstchen, pressed meats, Bahlsen chocolates.
Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Store
5000 SE International Way, Milwaukie, 607-6455, bobsredmill.com. Closed Sunday.
Sure, it exists primarily to build brand identity by loading sightseeing pack mules down with bushels of steel-cut oats they could buy at their neighborhood grocery, but the Bob’s Red Mill restaurant is a mighty nice place to get a hot breakfast today and a bag of steel-cut oats for breakfast tomorrow. Bob’s is open at the good, honest hour of 6 am, and there’s a big ol’ water-spun milling thingy outside and big ol’ bowls of organic muesli and grits inside. You will want to try making Bob’s scratch biscuits at home—which is part of its plot. Owner Bob takes the down-home, family store thing seriously: In 2010, he gave away his entire company to his employees, and in keeping with the historical trajectory of Milwaukie’s slow annexation into Portland, he added an entire line of gluten-free grains to his repertoire. MARTIN CIZMAR.
Shopping list: 25-pound bag of garbanzo-fava flour, gluten-free brownie mix, Bob’s Red Mill ball cap.
New Cascadia Traditional
1700 SE 6th Ave., 546-4901, newcascadiatraditional.com. Closed Sunday.
Though they only started selling at farmers markets seven years ago, New Cascadia is now the nuts-and-bolts old guard of Portland gluten-free baking. Gluten-free bread, let’s face it, is always going to be a bit of a magic trick, but New Cascadia’s dairy-free, egg-free, whole-grain loaf is also free of the oddball texture of much gluten-free baking—often a result of potato, which this loaf spurns. It is a dense and hearty loaf, though also a bit of a doorstop. The real gem for utilitarians, however, is the honey-gold sandwich bread, though, which manages to provide a bit of lightness and air in a sandwich slice for the celiac. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Vegan chocolate cupcakes, honey gold, challah (Fridays only), pizza crust.
NEW! Panaderia 5 de Mayo
8416 SE 32nd Ave., 971-206-1200; 1134 SE 82nd Ave., 654-8339; panaderiacincodemayo.com.
Out of a Milwaukie borderland storefront that looks like it’d sell prepaid phone cards, the original 5 de Mayo is a stacked panaderia-taqueria-tienda-farmacia and mini-carniceria offering goat, chorizo, beefhead and huge ol’ pork skins. But man, those pastries. The pan dulces come in a bewildering variety from pink mountainous conchas to jammy rolls to watermelon-painted shortbreads to pastry tubes filled with custard. But the reason people travel here is for those fresh, warm, sticky but not too sticky, crisp on the outside, tender in the middle churros. It’s like the taste of an entire street carnival all in one bite. The new, closer-in 82nd Avenue location offers the bread but not the full party; still, take full advantage of its abutment to the excellent Los Alambres food cart. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Churros, conchas, tres leches cake, footlong chorizo, aspirin.
JC Rice Noodle
8405 SE Foster Road, 788-1668. Closed Tuesday.
You’ll want to cook JC’s noodles fast. After even one day in the fridge, they grow stiff and less than pliable—though a few seconds in the microwave help. But given that this shop’s wide, flat rice noodles, as good as any in town, run only $1 a pound, you’re safe overbuying the day of the dinner. Walk inside the little lobby at this noodle factory, and you’ll find a 6-foot stack of 60-pound sacks of soybeans and a few shelves stocked with Asian staples and oddities (coconut milk-flavored rice crackers, $2.29) still in boxes. You can order the noodles fresh in a rotating menu of house dishes, but the tables were packed with more boxes on our visit. We took a massive platter of beef chow fun ($8.95) out to the car without complaint. MARTIN CIZMAR.
Shopping list: Several pounds of rice noodles and maybe a pound or two of barbecue pork rice noodle.
5351 NE Sandy Blvd., 946-8884, bakeshoppdx.com. Closed Monday-Tuesday.
The sweet-and-salty cookies of Kim Boyce’s Bakeshop have taken over the front cases of Portland’s microroasteries and coffee shops with such ubiquity you’d think the cookies came with the lease, like those chocolates real-estate people leave on your doorstep. But really it’s a testament to the esteem with which the Beard Award-winning cookbook writer Boyce is held in this town. Like Milwaukie’s fabled Bob, Boyce is a connoisseur of whole grains, but the whole story is in the balance of sweet and substantial in her never-cloying baked goods. It’s a simple formula: Everything essential, nothing extraneous, and all comfort. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Scones, almond croissants, pumpkin cookies, springtime rhubarb hand pies.
Finales Fine Cakes & Desserts
0614 SW Dakota St., 222-0547, finalesdesserts.com.
Much of Finales’ business is as a wholesale or special-event cakemaker. But while its retail side remains just a display case along a long coffee bar, what’s on hand is excellent, with treats ranging from pretty fruit tarts to cookies. The highlight is a well-crafted breakfast sandwich, with fluffy eggs, cheddar and bacon stacked inside a biscuit, plus a $2.50 milk-and-cookie special they swear is not reserved for children. John’s Landing has always played host to occasional culinary gems, and Finales seems to be continuing that tradition. JORDAN GREEN.
Shopping list: Salted caramel brownies, ham-and-cheddar croissant, breakfast sandwich (with light egg).
NEW! The Sugar Cube
3039 NE Alberta St., 971-202-7135, thesugarcubepdx.com. Closed Monday-Tuesday.
On the blackboard behind the glass counter at her bakery on Northeast Alberta Street, Kir Jensen has chalked, “No guilt, just pleasure.” You’re going to need to buy into that philosophy for the decadent chocolate blackout ($6), three layers of soft, spongy cake and cocoa icing roofed by a thin layer of roasty caramel. The Sugar Cube’s space is minimalist—a half-dozen wood tables and a small high-top counter—but the recipes are lavish, from the “ultimate” brownie ($3.50), with rich ganache and olive oil, to the fluffy “crack” coffeecake muffins ($3.75), with marionberry and pecan-inflected streusel. You couldn’t buy two boxes of baked goods from any other place in town and have so many direct hits. MARTIN CIZMAR.
Shopping list: Crack coffeecake muffins, chocolate blackout.
NEW! Waves of Grain
2250 East Burnside St., 206-5556, wavesofgrainbakery.com. Closed Tuesday.
Waves of Grain’s name might evoke the plains, but the shop just moved to Buckman from Cannon Beach, where it was a local favorite. The wheat used in baking apparently comes from family fields passed down for four generations. The breakfast nook and bakery offers build-your-own biscuit sandwiches for those who eat in, but the bread display up front offers a wealth of treats, from basic cinnamon rolls to excellent scones and pumpkin spelt muffins, challah, bags of grain, and rolls served from an antique bakery case. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Shortbread cookies, pumpkin bread, spelt muffins.
5345 SE Foster Road, 788-0866, anxuyenbakery.com. Closed Monday.
This Southeast Foster Vietnamese bakery and banh mi shop is our dark-horse candidate for Portland’s best low-key Saturday brunch, with breakfast-ready sammies built from over-easy eggs on the house’s own barely-there bread. But this nearly 20-year-old bakery doesn’t stop at under-$5 baguettes laden with well-seasoned shreds of meat. No matter the time, it’s hard to leave without at least one thing from the long dessert case, whether oft-creamy glazed fruit tarts, a pineapple cookie, crisps with buttered walnuts or fresh-fried, sugar-coated doughnut balls. Pick them up with a cup of the sweet and nutty Vietnamese iced coffee. MARTIN CIZMAR.
Shopping list: Baguettes and bonbons.