Until they opened in Capitol Hill, Bakery Nouveau odysseys to West Seattle were as legendary as Krispy Kreme treks elsewhere in America. Baker William Leaman (former captain of the winning Coupe du Monde de Boulangerie team), can create a Sunflower Rye loaf and mould a Pistachio chocolate with equal panache. Leaman doesn’t revel in his celebrity, though. Despite being named one of the “Top Ten Next Generation Chocolatiers,” he still bakes comfort classics like carrot and chocolate cake.
Ballard’s Café Besalu only offers a few tables, but the ambience and freshly baked croissant aromas flow out onto the 24th Avenue sidewalk, where tables and a wide bench await. Like the best patisseries of Paris, it doesn’t seem right to take one’s croissant, galette or brioche away, even if it means leaning against the windowpane to eat it. Pastry chef James Miller lays claim annually to “best croissant in Seattle” accolades, but try the plum Danish or almond Schnecken to round out your cosmopolitan petit déjeuner.
Eltana, Top Pot Hand Forged Doughnuts & Mighty O Donuts
Okay, full disclosure, Eltana is not technically an artisan bakery, but founders Stephen Brown and Daniel Levin have revolutionized an integral element of the Seattle lifestyle: the bagel. Wood-fired and inspired by Montréal bakers at Fairmount and St-Viateur, these compact, delicious bagels have taken over local Sunday brunches. Other recommendations (well-crafted if not exactly artisanal), go to local Top Pot Doughnuts and vegan donut creator, Mighty-O. Both have somehow managed to make eating a chocolate-glazed doughnut feel almost healthy.
The Essential Baking Company
Known simply as “Essential” (as in “let’s meet at Essential at 10”), this organic bread-baking operation established the city’s love for heavily crusted European-style loaves. Fewer than 85% of the locals buy a daily baguette like they do in France, but this doesn’t stop the bakers from making a Parisian Baguette covered in poppy seeds and lavender. The loading dock-style patio remains a favourite summertime gathering spot, especially when tempted by Chocolate Sumapaz, Lemon Cremeux, and Raspberry Charlotte, among other luscious desserts.