5351 NE Sandy Blvd., 946-8884, bakeshoppdx.com. Closed Monday-Tuesday.
Bakeshop's top priority isn't making you feel super-comfortable; the only place to perch at Kim Boyce's austerely beautiful, mostly wholesale bakery is at a bench or handful of bar stools at the front window. There's not even coffee (go next door to Case Study for that). Instead, you squeeze into the tiny wedge of white-subway-tiled space relegated to walk-in customers, suck in a waft of toasted barley- and fruit-scented air and walk out with a box full of some of the most deeply satisfying baked goods you will eat this year. The James Beard Award-winning baking book author is a master of wild textures and bittersweet flavors, often anchored by whole-grain flours: crunchy chocolate oatmeal cookies, dense yet light scones pumped up with bacon nubbins or fig bits, gingery coffeecakes loaded with tart berries. Before you know it, the only thing left will be a crumb-strewn doily at the bottom of the box. KC.
Shopping list: Figgy buckwheat scones, chocolate-chocolate cookies (available in spring), maple Danish.
Finales Fine Cakes & Desserts (NEW!)
0614 SW Dakota St., 222-0547, finalesdesserts.com.
The retail side of Finales is a bit spartan, though that could be chalked up to the new location. There's only one display case despite a long coffee bar, but what's on hand is excellent. The treats under glass range from pretty fruit tarts to cookies. The highlight, though, is a well-crafted breakfast sandwich, with fluffy eggs, melted cheddar and the right amount of bacon stacked between a decadent biscuit, all delightfully priced at $4. It's clear Finales earns most of its business through wedding cakes and wholesale baking, but the cafe is off to a strong start. Johns Landing's scattered layout has always played host to occasional culinary gems. Finales has a good shot at continuing that tradition. JG.
Shopping list: Snickerdoodles, ham-and-cheddar croissant, breakfast sandwich (with light egg)
Grand Central Bakery
714 N Fremont St., 546-5311, and five other locations, grandcentralbakery.com.
Everyone knows Grand Central for its artisan bread, sandwiches and pastries, but what sets this preternaturally popular Portland-Seattle chain apart from the competition may well be its extensive U-bake selection: Everything from puff pastry and pizza crusts to heat-and-eat whole pot and fruit pies. (Not DIY enough for you? Pick up a copy of The Grand Central Baking Book, available at all locations.) Bake your own seasonal pie filling in a Grand Central pie shell ($4.95, complete with its own tin), and you just might be tempted to hang up your apron for good. KM.
Shopping list: Kalamata olive bread, U-bake chocolate-chip cookies.
Marsee Baking Outlet
9100 N Vancouver Ave., 295-4000, marseebaking.com. Closed Saturday-Sunday.
You may have been to Marsee Baking's Sellwood location, or bought its loaves at New Seasons, but this northern gem is a dream come true. Here, in that nebulous land where Portland meets Washington and the thoroughbreds circle the tracks of the Meadows, the local baking outfit sells excess from each morning's wholesale orders at wholesale prices: muffins and full artisan loaves for $3, take-and-bake breads from $1.50, assorted croissants for $5. There's Stumptown coffee on drip and cakes and tortes in the fridge—and around closing time, pastries are two-for-one. CM.
Shopping list: Marionberry empanadas, pecan sticky buns, olive pugliese loaves, take-and-bake baguettes.
Ken's Artisan Bakery
338 NW 21st Ave., 248-2202, kensartisan.com.
Ken Forkish is now as known now for his packed pizza house and upcoming bar as for his original forte: bread baked beautifully, at a little bakery on Northwest 21st Avenue. In particular, Forkish's shop is has mastered the oft-drab and dense multigrain loaf, allowing it to blossom out with flavor. It's the best version in town. The pain rustique, likewise, breathes new life into the old and familiar. MK.
Shopping list: Multigrain loaf, pain rustique, brioche.
Little T American Baker
2600 SE Division St., 238-3458, littletbaker.com.
Little T must be approached from the rear left. Unlike the bread-filled baskets, warm colors and Francophile stylings of Portland's other artisan bakeries, the curiously neo-modern design of baker Tim Healea's store places all the bread on display in a stark window cavity in the building's left-hand window, like some sort of conceptual public art installation. The result—rustic brown loaves almost glowing from inside a plain glass tank—is quite striking from the outside. But inside, it's a pain in the neck, literally, as you twist your head around to take a gander at the day's offerings. It's worth the extra effort, though. Healea's gloriously crusty breads are some of the best in town, and certainly the most interesting. The sourdough house loaf made with beer and rye flour; the addictive, baguette-shaped pretzel bread; and the ciabatta rolls made with seven-grain cereal and carrot all thumb their nose at tradition, as if to sneer, "This is not your froufrou French boulangerie. This is A-merican baking!" Fuck, yeah. RB.
Shopping list: "Long skinny" baguettes, focaccia-like "slab" breads, pastries.
939 NW 10th Ave., 208-3113, lovejoybakers.com.
Lovejoy Bakers' space, just off Jamison Square, offers a cozy, welcoming atmosphere: Pastry labels are attached to forks, the chalkboard walls are inscribed with quotes by M.F.K. Fisher and James Beard, pallets are stacked with bags of flour near the door, and the breads and pastries are consistently well-crafted and delicious. The bakery also offers a mouthwatering list of sandwiches, soups and salads, as well as discounted day-old bags of pastries. MHW.
Shopping list: Rye loaf with caraway seeds, hazelnut-orange Danish, buttermilk or vegan scones, grilled cheese sandwich.
102 NW 9th Ave., 827-0910, pearlbakery.com.
After 16 years in the business, Pearl Bakery is still one of the best places in Portland to pick up a crisp baguette or light, chewy ciabatta loaf to take to a dinner party. More bite-sized offerings, like the pecan-rosemary or chocolate panini, make for a perfect snack on the way home. Sweet-tooth craving? The dense chocolate bouchon or cinnamon crown will be utterly satisfying. As befits a bakery that makes regular appearances at the Saturday Portland Farmers Market, Pearl rotates its sandwich options and Danish fillings based on what's in season. MHW.
Shopping list: Orange-and-anise gibassier, Sicilian fig cookies, green olive levain loaf, burger buns.
Tabor Bread (NEW!)
5051 SE Hawthorne, 971-279-5530, taborbread.com. Closed Monday-Tuesday.
Tabor Bread, which opened the day before Thanksgiving last year, rivals some stiff local competition with its fresh-baked everythings and interesting housemade canned goods. But 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. These are only available in-house at the moment, but will soon also be available for purchase. The shop's ample outside seating is also pretty much a perfect way to spend a sunny Portland day snacking, snipping and world-watching. JL.
Shopping List: Rye Pullman, Red Fife boule, doughnut muffin, and apple, caraway and bacon scones.
Mei Sum Bakery
8001 SE Powell Blvd., 777-3391.
Get out of your chocolate-cake comfort zone with a nibble from this tiny Chinese bakery next to Jin Wah in an 82nd Avenue strip mall: funky towers of sponge cake rolled in frosting and peanuts and topped with super-thick, sticky vanilla pudding; flat, flaky "wife cakes" that taste like sesame balls studded with winter-melon bits; savory barbecue pork housed in a puffy hamburgerish buns; and sweeter Hawaiian-style rolls topped with oniony ham and egg hash. Most everything is cheap and filling here; drop a five-spot and you won't have to eat again all day. If you've got time, special-order a Chinese birthday cake (they are traditionally less sweet than American ones) decorated with zodiac symbols like squiggly red dragons. KC.
Shopping list: Pineapple custard and barbecue pork buns, fresh red-bean mooncakes (in autumn), bite-sized sponge cakes topped with frosting bunnies.
2346 SE 82nd Ave., 772-0955. Minimum $10 purchase for Visa and MC.
This bakery is disguised to feel like any old donut shop, but a look into the pastry case tells a different story. It offers just one type of donut in a sea of traditional Chinese baked goods, most for under a dollar. On a typical afternoon you may find elderly folks chatting while playing games of chess among the ample seating. If you're looking for something sweet, you should skip the boba tea and opt for a wife cake—a sugary concoction of flaky dough. Although there's a minimum of $10 for credit and debit transactions, there is no minimum for EBT or cash. EP.
Shopping list: Wife cake, coffeecake roll, red bean bun, lotus cake.
Fleur de Lis
3930 NE Hancock St., 459-4887, fleurdelisbakery.com.
Fleur de Lis is the perfect neighborhood bakery: plenty of seating (including a covered patio), ambient music and the sweet scents of coffee and baking bread. Baker-owner Greg Mistell's treats always taste top notch to boot. On one visit, two of us devoured an apricot-rosemary scone and then fought over every last crumb of a raspberry-filled brioche. For those with an even sweeter tooth, Mistell makes doughnuts and cinnamon rolls; for the savory-minded, tasty breakfast or lunch sandwiches are crafted to match perfectly with each bread. MHW.
Shopping list: Baguette, fennel and golden-raisin scones, fruit-filled brioche.
404 NW 10th Ave., 972-1700, nuvrei.com.
For nearly a decade, Marius Pop has been baking up some of the city's best sweets in his basement commercial kitchen, including terrific crisp-yet-chewy cookies ($2) and rummy, caramel-crusted French canelés ($2). There are few places better to spend a lazy Sunday, devouring oozy ham-, béchamel- and Dijon-stuffed pretzel croissants, never-too-sweet berry muffins and flavor-packed quiches with Coava coffee. (Nab a brat sausage on mauricette bread for $9.50 while you're at it.) Do not leave the premises without a rainbow of Nuvrei's intensely flavored macarons ($2). From tart pink framboise to celadon-hued pistachio crème, they're among the few things in life that taste as good as they look. KC.
Shopping list: Lemon poppy-seed scones, coconut pineapple brioche, porno-moan-inducing brownie cookies.
The German Bakery
10534 NE Sandy Blvd., 252-1881, the-german-bakery.com. Closed Monday.
Behold, the Königreich of German foods in Portland: equal parts bakery, deli, cafe and grocery. You'll find everything here, from schnitzel to spaetzle to streusel küchen. Cases of imported beers sit in front of a deli counter showcasing classic wursts across from a short aisle packed with Dr. Oetker's baking necessities, cake mixes, popular German candies and condiments. And then there are the two glass cases lined with poppy-seed strudels, fat eclairs, chocolate-covered "pig ears," linzers and so much more. The three young employees were constantly busy when we visited, helping an elderly couple find the right "rye that is lighter, a real European rye" bread, listening to customers reminisce about their last trip to Bavaria and offering a particularly fussy woman thin-but-not-too-thin slices of meat. NB.
Shopping list: Weiss wurst, quark, Bitburger beer, milchreis packets, Hanuta.
Fressen Artisan Bakery (NEW!)
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 new, 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. MK.
Shopping list: Nutella croissant, pretzel-wrapped Olympic Provisions footlong hot dogs, Zwiebelroggenbrot (rye onion bread).
Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Store
5000 SE International Way, Milwaukie, 607-6455. 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, 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 Bob 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. MC.
Shopping list: Twenty-five-pound bag of garbanzo-fava flour, gluten-free brownie mix, Bob's Red Mill ball cap.
Baker & Spice
6330 SW Capitol Highway, 244-7573, bakerandspicebakery.com. Closed Monday.
You've already tasted Julie Richardson and Matt Kappler's homey baked goods at farmers markets across the city, but don't pass up a stop at the pair's welcoming Hillsdale cafe, which kinda feels like Starbucks with good cookies and a soul. Nibble on a ham-and-Gruyère croissant and a cup of coffee from Portland's small-batch roasted Zbeanz coffee, grab an apple hand pie to go, or settle in at a table and gobble up a custardy bread pudding. You can order full cakes, too. And when you start getting depressed that your shortbread cookies will never, ever taste this buttery good, head a few doors down to Richardson's baking equipment shop, Sweetwares, and sign up for a class. KC.
Shopping list: Shortbread cookies, turkey sandwich and a loaf of olive ciabatta (Saturday only).
La Espiga Dorada
18350 SW Tualatin Valley Highway, Beaverton, 591-9859.
The smell—yeasty, sugary, browned-crust wafts of happiness—hits you before you ever see this tiny, spartan panaderia's big bakery case and tall racks of breads and treats. Grab a tray and a pair of tongs and start filling up on pan dulce, fruit-stuffed empanadas, flaky, buttery, croissantish sugar bombs and La Espiga's shockingly good macaroons—they are dense, sticky coconut crack balls. When you're done, turn 180 degrees and legitimize your sugar-fiending by snatching random goods from the fridge case full of sopes, eggs, crema and other chilled staples. KC.
Shopping list: Macaroons, pan dulce, brightly decorated kids' birthday cakes big enough to feed the whole neighborhood, Squirt in glass bottles(!).
JC Rice Noodle
8405 SE Foster Road, 788-1668.
This tiny shop on an unpleasant corner of Foster Road makes fresh, thin rice noodles—shahe fen, the kind used in pad thai and chow fun—with a 33-foot beast of a machine that's just visible past the counter. You can buy the chewy, slippery noodles in 12-inch square sheets, in rolls or chopped into inchwide ribbons for 95 cents a pound. Use them the day you buy them; they dry out. JC also makes good, dense tofu ($1 per one-pound block) and soy milk, along with a brief menu of noodle dishes to order out or eat in, at the shop's video-lottery consoles. Why are there lottery machines in a noodle shop? It's Foster Road. BW.
Shopping list: Noodles, tofu, barbecue pork rice noodle roll to snack on in the car.
New Cascadia Traditional
1700 SE 6th Ave., 546-4901, newcascadiatraditional.com. Closed Sunday.
If you're one of those lucky individuals who can eat bread to their hearts' content, this bakery isn't for you. However, if you suffer from celiac disease or have adopted a gluten-free diet, New Cascadia is dedicated to sating your carb cravings with gluten-free sandwiches, sweets and pizzas. Most treats are helpfully labeled with their ingredients in case you have other allergies or prefer to avoid dairy or eggs. Judging by the crowds, New Cascadia has found quite a following since opening less than two years ago, so get there early in the day to have a variety of sweets to choose from. Have a sandwich made to order from 11 am to 3 pm, or take home the popular teff bread to make your own. MHW.
Shopping list: Vegan, gluten-free chocolate cupcakes, Multnomah Granola, challah (Fridays only), pizza crust.
Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Store
5000 SE International Way, Milwaukie, 607-6455. Closed Sunday.
See Grains section.
5345 SE Foster Road, 788-0866, anxuyenbakery.com.
If you're wondering whether to pay a visit to An Xuyen or not, the numerous accolades prominently displayed on the bakery's doors and interiors might clinch your decision. If that doesn't do it, the overwhelmingly enticing aromas of freshly baked breads and almond cookies should do the trick. The self-described "pan-Asian" bakery also specializes in French goods and makes a killer baguette. Try it plain or as the foundation of $3 pulled pork or tofu banh mi. Instead of risking an order of the flan, try the melt-in-your-mouth guava cookie. And for those with a very special day coming up, An Xuyen also accepts orders for wedding cakes. EP.
Shopping list: Guava cookies, banh mi baguettes, French bread, steam bun, green tea cake with red bun filling.
THE PORTLAND BAGEL
More than you'd ever expect in a rainy Northwest town best known for its French and German and Franz breads, Portland has been subject to tumultuous bagel battles since the closing of local favorite Kettleman Bagel Co. in late 2011. The plus side? A nice new crop of bagel shops. A few of our favorites:
Bowery Bagels (NEW!)
310 NW Broadway, 227-6674, bowerybagels.com.
This newcomer makes compact, kosher rounds with a sizeable hole and shiny crust. The bagel dough is fermented, rolled, boiled and then baked, New York style. Portland Pedal Power delivers Bowery bagels, and you can also find them at New Seasons Market, Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Zupan's Markets. This was the bagel preferred in a taste test conducted by five rabbis at our office.
Shopping list: Everything bagel, plain bagel.
Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen
1038 SW Stark St., 222-3354, kennyandzukes.com.
Kenny & Zuke's tied with Spielman Coffee Roasters in 2012's bagel taste-off at the Willamette Week offices. With bagels often lauded as the boiled heir to Kettleman, the deli opened five years ago as a homage to authentic Jewish cuisine. The bagels are plump and glossy, and the garlic notes in the everything bagel are satisfyingly strong.
Shopping list: Everything bagel.
Spielman Coffee Roasters
2128 SE Division St., 467-0600.
Spielman's tangy sourdough makes for an entirely different character of bagel, one that may prove divisive among old-school bagel fans, but it was the favorite among WW editors. Spielman's seedy bagel—it's covered in enough pumpkin, watermelon, flax, hemp, sunflower and poppy seeds to make a loaf of Dave's Killer Bread—stands out.
Shopping list: The plain bagels will make you believe in sourdough bagels. Promise.
Henry Higgins Boiled Bagels (NEW!)
5222 NE Sacramento St., 327-1844, hhboiledbagels.com. Closed Monday-Thursday.
Henry Higgins is a hijacker; it takes over the kitchen of Hogan's Goat Pizza on Friday, Saturday and Sunday starting at 7 am. With founders hailing from Kettleman, Higgins has also hijacked the expertise of a former local favorite. The excellent boiled bagels have already become a weekend ritual for Roseway families, and its bagels are also featured at multiple cafes in town, so check the website for details.
Shopping list: Leek bagel.
Blackheart Bagels (NEW!)
2240 NE Sandy Blvd., blackheartbagels.com. Closed Monday-Thursday.
Blackheart keeps it simple. Bethany Venooker's little parking-lot cart behind the far edge of the Ocean food complex, offers nothing toasted, nothing caffeinated and nothing added: just bagels and cream cheese. Luckily, that's what you came for.
Shopping list: Salt bagel, garlic bagel.