The Best Bakery in 20 Chicago Neighborhoods
They may not get as much of the limelight as bars and restaurants, but bakeries are every bit as important to Chicago's eating ecosystem. So we're setting our sights on some of the city's sweet-makers. From a time-tested German bakery in Lakeview to a whimsical spot in Wicker Park, here are the best places to score baked goods in 20 Chicago neighborhoods.
It's no surprise that Chicago's historically Scandinavian neighborhood would lay claim to -- you guessed it -- a historical Scandinavian bakery that's been satisfying sugar cravings since the late 1920s. The business has changed hands a couple time since then, but has upheld its commitment to all things sweet. Stop in for traditional braided cardamom coffee cake, toska tortes, and gourmet imports like lingonberry preserves and Swedish crisp bread.
After its start in Palatine and a three-year stint in Wicker Park, this popular bakery has settled into a spacious spot in Avondale. It's undoubtedly known for its award-winning breads made with natural starters, but a veritable French macaron rainbow, a selection of seasonal cakes, and plentiful breakfast pastries are just as irresistible, especially when paired with a cup of coffee or tea.
This northern expansion of West Town's Lovely: A Bake Shop proves to be even better than the original, thanks to its enormous kitchen and expanded cafe menu. Score everything from molasses-y chocolate ginger chews and perfectly toasted coconut macaroons to a selection of breakfast pastries and even a BLT with Sriracha mayo.
OK, so Evanston is technically a suburb, not a neighborhood within Chicago, but as both the city's closest Northern neighbor and the home of an artisanal bakery of Hewn's caliber, we're pretending it's a 'hood for the sake of this list. You'll be hard-pressed to find better hand-forged bread than the beautifully crusty loaves here, and pastries like monkey bread, muffins, and fruit-studded scones are delightful enough to turn just about anyone into a morning person.
Sure, Downtown shoppers and bachelorette parties flock to this local outpost of this cupcake chain like bees to honey, and while the cutesy branding and gimmicky cupcake ATM likely have something to do with that, we have to admit, the cupcakes are worth the hype.
A sticky-sweet piece of baklava is the obvious choice at this Greek-leaning destination, and it certainly doesn't disappoint, but it's hardly the only thing the sweets shop does well; don't miss the chocolate-y karioka and "Louie's cookies," which are specialty walnut meringue cookie sandwiches with a fudge center.
Unlike most Chicago-area bakeries, which only bring out the pączki once a year, this European shop offers the traditional Polish pastry year-round for your enjoyment. The treats come in flavors like plum jelly and custard-filled, and share the stage with everything from apricot kolaczki to blueberry turnovers. Even if you're not in the Jefferson Park area, you can get your fix at the bakery's French Market location.
From strudels and tarts to cookies and its famous stollen, this German bakery has had the answer to Chicago's collective baked-good needs for the better part of a century and is still going strong. If sweets aren't your thing, don't worry -- they have quiche and plenty of savory croissants, too.
Given that Sweet Mandy B's and Floriole are the charming bakeries sharing the same block and producing some of the best baked goods in the city -- let alone, their neighborhood -- we couldn't recognize one without the other. Washed in pastel hues and equipped with a pastry display bursting with colorful cookies and cupcakes, Sweet Mandy B's is a veritable sugar fiend's fairytale. Floriole plays it a bit more simple, with an airy space conducive to working while you munch on European pastries, like almond-y gateau Basque, pain au chocolat, and a variety of scones; don't forget to pick up a loaf of fresh-baked bread on your way out.
This time-tested, family-owned establishment has been around since 1904, and after just one bite of its cannoli, you'll understand why: It's that good. The assorted Italian cookies and sfogliatelle are equally to credit for its longevity.
Get your pie fix and a piping dish of biscuits and gravy at this rustic eat-in bakery and cafe. The pies rotate daily, and are available for pre-order every day of the week.
Helmed by pastry great Mindy Segal (Mindy's Hot Chocolate), this cozy oasis within the buzzy Revival Food Hall, this part-cafe, part-bar offers all things caffeinated, boozy, and baked. Stop by the one-stop shop for brioche donuts and nitro draft lattes during the day, and stiff (and coffee-infused, if you wish) cocktails in the evening.
Sure, you can score a well-rounded meal here, but wouldn't you rather have a multi-course feast of rainbow layer cake, iced cut-out cookies, pecan sticky buns, and hulking rice crispy treats?
With locations in both Chicago and Evanston, this kitschy pie shop has earned a slice of both city and suburban pie markets with its rotating selection of fresh-baked pies. The sweet creations are available whole, by the slice, or in flights, and come in flavors like Hoosier sugar cream, pear-apple-cranberry with walnut crumble, and maple pecan.
Step inside this classic French bakery and you'll swear you've just been teleported to a quiet Parisian side-street; brioche, croissants, beignets, and baguettes abound.
While its neighborhood has seen its fair share of change and evolution in recent years, this Mexican bakery remains steadfast, just as it has for the past half-century. It specializes in traditional favorites, including pan dulce, churros, and flan, as well as savory tortillas made with jalapeño and chili guajillo.
Whether you're lingering over a casual oatmeal breakfast or dropping by to pick up a bacon, egg, and brie sandwich on the go, there's no better place to kickstart your day in Ravenswood than here. All the baked goods are made with flour milled in-house.
This carbo-loaded attachment to Stephanie Izard's Little Goat Diner sells some seriously decadent goods, like "fat bread" (smoked duck fat, pickled mustard seed, and beer), crusty tortone made with garlic and mashed potatoes, onion rye bagels with kimchi cream cheese, and don't-knock-it-'til-you've-tried-it chocolate, peanut butter, and Cheez-It cake.
Artsy, graffiti-inspired walls and red, white, and blue booth-seating reflect this bakery/diner's playful array of offerings: Dark Matter coffee, booze aplenty, sustainability-driven baked goods, and gut-busting brunch eats like a duck confit Cubano, and malted chocolate and toffee pancakes.
From whimsical custom cakes (Narwhal cake, anyone? How about a 3-D Ninja Turtle?) and fruit tarts to macarons and kouign amann, the creativity at this lauded sweets emporium knows no bounds. Be sure to pair your sugar high with a caffeine jolt, courtesy of the bakery's full espresso bar.
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