Portland is known for locally sourced artisanal fare, so it’s no surprise that local chefs each have their own take on the traditional art of baking. A variety of Portland bakeries have created innovative twists on everything from pizzas to French-inspired pastries to muffins that has earned the city and its chefs accolades for its bread and pastries. Of course, what goes better with a book than a donut muffin or a pretzel roll? Portlandians would certainly agree that almost nothing else does, except for maybe a locally sourced beer to wash the delicious treats down. Here are just five Portland bakeries that offer baked goods at their finest — and quirkiest.
With locations in both Portland and Seattle, Grand Central has become one of the Pacific Northwest’s most notable artisan bakeries. Founder Gwen Bassetti started the bakery more than two decades ago with the introduction of the Como loaf to Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square. While the bakery is known for its signature European-style breads (such as the Como loaf), the café menu features a variety of hearty sandwiches, one of which features lamb meatballs served on a hot demi-baguette. The pastries are just as noteworthy. The donut muffin, for instance, combines the classic buttermilk bar with the buttery, sugary taste of a donut.
Tim Healea, owner and head baker of Little T Baker, bakes breads under the guidance of four key elements: flour, science, hands and heart. It’s his thought and passion that customers see in the breads he makes and is perhaps why he continues to receive accolades as one of the younger bakers in the biz. The bakery’s morning pastries such as the World Cup Pecan Puff and pistachio bear paw are just as delicious as the loaves of breads such as the pretzel roll or olive slab available at the shop.
Stepping into St. Honoré Boulangerie whisks customers off to Europe with its flagstone floor and thick wooden tables reminiscent of the French countryside. Master Baker Dominique Geulin learned the art of pastry making while working in his parent’s bakery in the Normandy region of France. The menu reflects this French baking tradition combined with fresh, Pacific Northwest fare. That is evident in the brioche parisienne, a rich bread made with eggs, sugar and, in true French form, butter. The pain au chocolat is another delicious pastry choice.
Staff members at Pearl Bakery wear shirts with the slogan "Eat Bread" written on them, and after stepping inside the bakery, customers will want to do nothing else except for maybe eat a cookie. Located in Portland’s Pearl District, the bakery has a very open feel with delicious baked goods on display and the kitchen in plain sight — evidence of the bakery’s commitment to sustainability and all things clean. The endless varieties of bread are reason enough to visit. Try the kalamata olive ciabatta for a bite of rustic Italy. To satisfy a sweet tooth, customers will want to try the macarons or one of the wide variety of daily baked cookies.
Ken’s Artisan has two locations: one is a bakery and the other is a pizza joint. Both offer equally delicious baked goods. The bakery is known for its wide variety of breads and croissants, especially the Oregon croissants with local berries and hazelnut cream. It also features a variety of sandwiches, soups, salads and, on Mondays, has Ken’s famous pizza for sale. The pizza joint started as the result of Monday Night Pizza at the bakery. The pizzas are made similarly to the ones in Italy and are baked in a wood-fired oven using a cracker-thin crust and locally sourced ingredients.