Devour 2012: Bakeries

Top Picks:
  1. Delicious Donuts as an antidote to the Voodoo mania.
  2. Ken’s Artisan Bakery for the country brown and a fruit tart.
  3. Little T American Baker for the pretzel bread and the city’s best croissant.
  4. Pearl Bakery for a multigrain batard and gibassier.
  5. Spielman Coffee Roasters or Kenny & Zuke’s for real bagels.

An Xuyen

5345 SE Foster Road, 788-0866,

[VIETNAMESE] This tiny bakery sells all sorts of sugary Vietnamese and French desserts (palmiers, cakes, sesame balls, guava cookies, tarts and so on) and bakes all the buns for its next-door neighbor, Foster Burger, but the real draw are the rice-flour mini-baguettes it uses to make banh mi, the delicious Franco-Vietnamese sandwiches that are something of an obsession among WW staffers. The crunchy, slightly sweet loaves are ideal for all sorts of sandwiches, Viet and otherwise—try them for cheesesteak. An Xuyen makes a particularly good Saigon bacon banh mi to go, too. Beware the bored child manning the cash register on weekends, who is not above taunting tolerant customers for entertainment. BW.

Shopping list: A six-pack each of French loaves and dinner rolls.

Annie's Donut Shop

3449 NE 72nd Ave., 284-2752. 

[DOUGHNUTS] If I crave one thing in Portland, it's a moist, cakey, nutmeggy glazed applesauce cake doughnut from Annie's. Although it has changed owners, the nondescript shop at the junction of Northeast Sandy Boulevard and Fremont Street hasn't redecorated for three decades—and, really, why bother? All the goods are front and center in two bakery cases: tangy buttermilk bars, craggy apple and raspberry fritters, cinnamon twists, devil's food cake rounds and the mysterious "peanut butter butterfly," which tastes like a Reese's peanut butter cup mated with a doughnut. KC.

Shopping list: All of the above ($6.99 small, $7.99 medium, $9.49 large dozen). Plus two more of those applesauce doughnuts.


5716 SE 92nd Ave., 235-5526. 

[ARMENIAN] Uprooted from its longtime home at the Burnside Bridgehead two years ago to make way for the Burnside-Couch Couplet, Portland's original Armenian bakery, restaurant, dance club and market now resides in a two-story yellow building in sunny Lents. The new digs are bigger and prettier, with plenty of room for the dancers who fill the dining room to suck down Baltika beers and bartender Flavio's inspired shots, and shake it to the latest in Eastern European house on Friday and Saturday evenings. By day, the bakery turns out the breads, cakes and cookies that fill the baked-goods shelves of every Cyrillic-lettered shop in town, and the store pushes all sorts of pickled, canned and boxed goodies from east of the Oder. BW.

Shopping list: Pickled okra, Barbari bread, Armenian coffee.

Baker & Spice

6330 SW Capitol Highway, 244-7573, Closed Monday.

[BEAUTIFUL BREAD] 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 in 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).


5351 NE Sandy Blvd., 946-8884, Closed Monday-Tuesday.

[GOOD GRAINS] Bakeshop's top priority isn't making you feel super comfortable; the only place to perch at Kim Boyce's new, austerely beautiful, mostly wholesale bakery is at a 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 for 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 often anchored by whole grain flours: crunchy chocolate oatmeal cookies, dense yet light scones pumped up with bacon nubbins or fig bits, gingery coffee cakes 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.

Delicious Donuts

12 SE Grand Ave., 233-1833, 

[DOUGHNUTS] There's a good reason the trashy Plaid Pantry strip mall near the east end of the Burnside Bridge is swamped with cop cars every morning. That's when Portland's finest grab their daily fix of Boun Saribout's truly perfect doughnuts. "It's a sketchy corner. Nobody thought we'd make it more than three months in this location," admits the Laotian native, who opened his shop in 2005 with his bubbly wife, Penny Nguyen. "But the neighborhood kept us alive." That's an understatement. Saribout now fries up about 1,000 doughnuts a day, and most of those are usually gone by 10 am. (He makes 200 dozen just for the Bridge Pedal every year.) You won't find off-the-wall or fancy flavors here, just consistently great, crisp, fresh, sugary standards. Much of the shop's business comes from special orders worker bees pick up from counter-master Nguyen on their way to their downtown offices ($4.95 half dozen, $8.50 baker's dozen), or boxes of huge "Bad Boy"-sized apple fritters and fruity bear claws for the neighborhood construction workers ($7.95 half, $12.50 baker's dozen). New Seasons Market recently started selling Delicious Donuts, too. KC.

Shopping list: Crunchy apple fritters, fragrant blueberry doughnuts and the best plain-cake doughnut in the universe. If you want a dozen or more, place your order the day before, unless you enjoy disappointment.

Fleur de Lis

3930 NE Hancock St., 459-4887,

[SWEET BREADS] Fleur de Lis is the perfect neighborhood bakery: plenty of seating (including a covered patio), ambient music and air filled with the sweet scents of coffee and baking bread. Baker/owner Greg Mistell's treats always taste top-notch to boot. On a recent 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, there are tasty breakfast or lunch sandwiches crafted to match perfectly with each bread. MHW.

Shopping list: Baguette, fennel and golden-raisin scones, fruit-filled brioche.

German Bakery

10534 NE Sandy Blvd., 252-1881, Closed Monday.

[GERMAN] 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.

Grand Central Bakery

714 N Fremont St., 546-5311, and 5 other locations,

[UPPER CRUST] 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.

Ken's Artisan Bakery 

338 NW 21st Ave., 248-2202,

[KING OF TARTS] Everyone loves Ken's bread, but the star attraction at his bakery on Northwest 21st Avenue is really the case filled with tarts and tartlets beautifully topped with meringue or glacéed fruit. The mid-winter strawberries aren't local, but they're certainly mouthwatering [Ken writes to say that he only uses local, seasonal strawberries - ed.]. Come in for a baguette and leave with plenty of dessert. If the tartlets don't get you, the Parisian macarons the size of a fist ought to do the trick. MHW.

Shopping list: Country blonde boule, fruit tartlets, canelé.

Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen 

1038 SW Stark St., 222-3354,

[KNISH NOSH] Skip the eternal line for dine-in service at Kenny & Zuke's and pick up some Jewish deli treats for the road. Alongside chewy bagels, there's pickled vegetables, both nova lox (smoked salmon) and gravlax (cured salmon), and an assortment of deli sides available by the pound. The knish—potato-onion plus other daily specials—are delish. And for dessert, grab traditional hamantaschen and rugelach just like your bubbe used to make. MHW.

Shopping list: Crisp fermented pickles, nova lox, potato-and-onion knish.

King's Bakery

2346 SE 82nd Ave., 772-0955. Minimum $10 purchase for Visa and MC.

[CHINESE BAKERY] Look past the glaringly lavender walls to the glass bakery cases that house a large selection of neat little buns and pastries. For the savory, try the barbecue pork buns. The bun-to-pork ratio is just OK, but the filling is tasty. Here the subtly sweet pastries reign supreme. The soft, fluffy bread of the cream bun ensconces a satisfying and smooth filling. The mochi balls resemble white Hostess Sno Balls, albeit with a vaguely pornographic jiggle to them. Made of chewy glutinous rice and filled with coconut and crushed peanuts, they're among the sweetest of the bakery's selections. The cashier is friendly, even to someone who is clearly not Chinese and hasn't the slightest idea what to order. But the best part is that you can go home with a bag bursting with buns for about 5 bucks. DC.

Shopping list: Mochi balls, pork buns, boba drinks.

La Espiga Dorada

18350 SW Tualatin Valley Highway, Beaverton, 591-9859. 

[MEXICAN] 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, all baked on-site. Grab a tray and a pair of tongs and start filling up on pan dulce, fruit-stuffed empanadas, flaky, buttery, croissant-ish 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 a glass bottle (!).

Little T American Baker

2600 SE Division St., 238-3458, 

[YANKEE INGENUITY] Little T must be approached from the rear left. Unlike the bread-filled baskets, warm colors and Francophilic 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 ass as you dislocate your neck to take a gander at the day's offerings. It's worth the extra effort. 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 frou-frou French boulangerie. This is A-merican baking!" Fuck yeah. RB.

Shopping list: "Long skinny" baguettes, focaccialike "slab" breads, pastries.

Lovejoy Bakers

939 NW 10th Ave., 208-3113, 

[AIRY TREATS] Lovejoy Bakers is a partnership between head baker Dan Griffin (formerly of Pearl Bakery) and run by the owners of Pizzicato Pizza. [Dan Griffin is no long associated with the bakery -ed.] The 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, and pallets stacked with bags of flour stand near the door. Griffin is one of the best bakers in town, and his 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.

Marsee Baking Outlet

9100 N Vancouver Ave., 295-4000, Closed Saturday-Sunday.

[BULK BAKED GOODS] 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 at $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.

Mei Sum Bakery

8001 SE Powell Blvd., 777-3391. 

[CHINESE BUNS] 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 hamburger-ish 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 the 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.

New Cascadia Traditional 

1700 SE 6th Ave., 546-4901, Closed Sunday.

[GLUTEN-FREE BAKERY] If you're one of those lucky individuals who can eat bread to their heart's 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.


404 NW 10th Ave., 972-1700,

[NOUVEAU FRANÇAIS] 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). Last fall, he finally opened a full-service cafe upstairs, a chunk of Paris in the Pearl with yellow metal chairs and a T-Rex soundtrack. 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, $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.

Pearl Bakery

102 NW 9th Ave., 827-0910, 

[BEAUTIFUL BATARDS] After 13 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.

Spielman Coffee Roasters

2128 SE Division St., 467-0600.

[HOLE FOODS] Whoa. Kettleman has, like, been totally corrupted by this capitalist-scum bagel empire. And Kenny & Zuke's is on the west side, and I don't even cross the river now that Occupy is over. Bummer. Thank goddess these cats on Division are doing some really righteous bagels ($1.50 each). The flavored cream cheeses ($6 a pound) aren't vegan, but you can put Tofutti on your bagel at home. And they roast this, like, shade-grown coffee ($8 for half a pound)—it's better for migratory birds, and that's really important to me. I feel animals are the real victims of Western greed and consumption. Animals and the Kanak people of New Caledonia. Wait...what? RB.

Shopping list: Bagels, cream cheese, coffee beans.

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