“I love bread,” proclaimed Oprah multiple times in a 2016 Weight Watchers commercial that went viral. And just like that, Americans ate bread again.
After years of being told to avoid bread at all cost, our country has given into common sense and returned to the favorite of all comfort foods: carbohydrates. Thankfully, scores of bakers across the United States have perfected their skills, providing sinfully delicious croissants, pies, cookies, cakes, macarons, and (perhaps obviously) breads.
In Boston, Joanne Chang has turned sticky buns into a business model with her Flour bakeries, which continue to expand since opening in 2000. Rumor has it, her oversized meringue clouds have been hailed as one of the best desserts on the planet. Down in Arizona, Phoenix’s panaderías supply the city with fruit-filled empanadas and churros. And in one Southern town, a bakery’s motto of “all butter, all the time” translates into some seriously delicious cupcakes.
Visiting local favorite bakeries isn’t just a decadent afternoon (or lunchtime, or dessert-time) diversion. It’s a great way to sample local ingredients and unusual regional specialties (think: scratch-made recipes passed down through generations).
In the annual America's Favorite Places survey, readers of all stripes evaluate hundreds of cities and towns across a range of categories, from the friendliness of the locals to the quality of the pizza. Unlike Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards, which encourages readers to weigh in on travel experiences across the globe, the America's Favorite Places survey is a way for locals to share what their hometowns do best.
As the results make clear, loving bread is not confined to any region, although the Southwest and the Northeast dominate the listings. Noticeably absent is the West Coast. Perhaps Californians haven’t gotten the memo yet that bread, and all baked goods, are Oprah-approved and fair game.