Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends
600 Guerrero Street (at 18th Street)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Pluses: High-end pastries and rich sandwiches made with organic ingredients from local sources
Minuses: Bread only available after 3:30 pm on Wednesday – Sunday; Long lines and relatively high prices
Don't Miss: Artisanal loaves of country bread and puffy, buttery croissants
Monday 8:00am-2:00pm (breakfast pastries only)
Tuesday-Friday 7:30am-7:00pm (no bread on Tuesdays)
All major credit cards accepted
Tartine Bakery is one of the primary reasons that Bay Area foodies are drawn to the block of 18th Street between Guerrero and Dolores. Though not marked by any exterior signage, you’ll immediately recognize its corner location by the long lines of trendy Missionites threading out the door, and the warm, sweet smell of baked goods that wafts through the air around it. Peek in the side window before walking in to see the busy kitchen at work, piping vanilla custard into chocolate-covered éclairs ($3.50), and dusting confectioner’s sugar over luxurious Scharffenberger pots de crème ($4).
Tartine Bakery is a throw-back to a traditional French patisserie/cafe, where patrons are tempted to wile the day away over a cup of rich coffee and a feather-light croissant still hot from the oven ($2.25). Those with a more savory tooth can try a glass of French wine with one of the gourmet hot pressed sandwiches. The best varieties include Pecorino and Almond with lemon and sage, or the rich Jambon Royale and Gruyere with Niman Ranch ham and country Dijon mustard (each $7). All are made with slices of Tartine’s award-winning country or walnut bread.
If you wish to bring home a loaf of bread for yourself, you must time your visit carefully – due to limited oven space, loaves are only available on Wednesday through Sunday after 3:30 pm, and they often sell out if you arrive too late in the day. Fortunately, taking the trouble to acquire a loaf from Tartine is well worth the effort – every $5 country loaf is an imposing mountain of darkly browned and bubbled crust that hides a pillow-soft interior, riddled with large, craggy holes. You’ll rarely find another loaf of bread with such well-developed flavor and structure.