America's Best Bakeries

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Proof Bakery

From Charleston to L.A., these bakeries put a creative, seasonal twist on cupcakes, pies, and cookies.

Proof, Los Angeles

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The owner and head baker at this pared-down Atwater Village bakery has a self-described “low sweet threshold,” but that may just be her secret to success. Na Young Ma’s seasonal-fruit-packed pastries like plum herb galettes and roasted cherry-almond hand pies never verge on cloyingly sweet and have attracted celebrity fans like Kristen Wiig. The offerings change daily and often include unorthodox ingredients. Black sesame financiers, for instance, are flavored with nutty black sesame powder, brown butter, and fresh raspberries or candied orange.

Must-Try Item: The flaky twice-baked almond croissant filled with a thin layer of almond cream. proofbakeryla.com

America's Best Bakeries

Proof, Los Angeles

The owner and head baker at this pared-down Atwater Village bakery has a self-described “low sweet threshold,” but that may just be her secret to success. Na Young Ma’s seasonal-fruit-packed pastries like plum herb galettes and roasted cherry-almond hand pies never verge on cloyingly sweet and have attracted celebrity fans like Kristen Wiig. The offerings change daily and often include unorthodox ingredients. Black sesame financiers, for instance, are flavored with nutty black sesame powder, brown butter, and fresh raspberries or candied orange.

Must-Try Item: The flaky twice-baked almond croissant filled with a thin layer of almond cream. proofbakeryla.com

Proof Bakery

America's Best Bakeries

Theresa Velazquez’s D.C. bakery business is thriving, yet she has no interest in expansion. “We own this one place, and we really make ourselves part of the neighborhood,” says the co-owner of Baked & Wired in Georgetown, where hazelnut ganache cupcakes are playfully displayed in upside-down coffee beakers.

Many of America’s best bakeries are family-run establishments that take a similar approach and pride in their community. They’re appealing, one-of-a-kind spots where travelers can break to enjoy made-from-scratch pastries that often highlight local ingredients.  

At Standard Baking Co. in Portland, ME, Alison Pray introduced Maine miche, an organic whole-wheat bread made with 100 percent single varietal wheat grown by a local farmer. “You couldn’t have imagined this 18 years ago when we started,” she says.

Great bakeries are not afraid to evolve or experiment, reinventing classic desserts as well as offering lesser-known European treats. So on your next trip, head to one of these bakeries for a sweet start to the day—whether an apricot puff pastry tart with almond cream or the gibassier, a French citrus-flavored bread.   

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