Even steamy summers can’t stop the ovens in Charleston. This city loves its bakeries with a zeal matched only by its enthusiasm for other artisanal treats, like ice cream and craft cocktails. Some bakeries here lean more toward bread than pastry, but most do plenty of both. And the baking often happens in small, historic buildings, so storefronts look unique, and the experience is personal, not corporate. (Personal admission here: I often have a tough time walking or driving past any of these five bakeries without stopping—if it’s not for the fresh berry croissant at Baguette Magic, it’s for the chewy English muffins at Brown’s Court.) All the shops on the list below also serve coffee and have at least a few tables. Stop by for a snack, or stay for a leisurely afternoon, all the while knowing bread is baking in the back, along with the lemon bars, cakes, and brioche.
With big oak trees out front and cool pastel walls inside, bakeries don’t get much sweeter than Sugar. Former New York architects Bill Bowick and David Bouffard keep fans coming back to Cannon Street with daily displays of old-fashioned cakes, pies, tarts, and cupcakes topped with candied lemon slices and sugared berries.
When the “open” light is on at this non-descript store front on Folly Road, it’s time to stop by for whatever’s just come out of the oven. Specialties include brioche, loaves of bread, croissants with fresh berries or chocolate, and interesting sandwiches like the baguette BLT with avocado and pimiento cheese.
Lauren Mitterer, a James Beard Award-nominated pastry chef, put her Spring Street bakery on the map in 2010 with Sticky Bun Sundays, a weekly celebration of sweet breakfast goodness. The shop has since added patio seating and features a daily menu of scones, turnovers, and wedding cakes in classic Southern flavors like red velvet and hummingbird.
Brown’s Court Bakery
This one is a local favorite. In a narrow house with a long side porch on St. Phillip Street, the Brown’s Court crew bakes everything from English muffins to baguettes, muffins, big chewy cookies, and squared-corner Pullman loaves. Come for the pastries. Stay for the free Wi-Fi and refills on coffee, too.
Normandy Farms Artisan Bakery
Hint: if you order the fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato pistelle at this Windermere Boulevard eatery, ask for the baguette to be toasted. Baking for more than 25 years in Charleston, Normandy Farms is always perfecting things, including toaster techniques and pull-apart loaves of pain d’epi. This year, the Parisian-style bakery also started French roasting their coffee in-house.