San Diego boasts one of the most truly multicultural cuisine cultures in America, with strong Hispanic influences adding color to an already multifaceted scene. But it's not all just churros and locally produced Julian Apple Pie in America's Finest City. The theatrical and creative nature of the San Diegans has contributed to equally creative, artisan bakeries where international influences are assimilated to bring locals some of the best and widest choice of pastries in America. Is there any better way to enjoy a beachside terrace or seashore picnic than with a sinful, sugar-coated cookie and a coffee? If that's your idea of the San Diego dream, then you'll want to check out at least a few of these five best bakeries in the city.
Elizabethan desserts, run by the passionately perfectionist baker Elizabeth Harris, is a triumph in twee. An adorable array of colors and aromas make this Encinitas bakery feel like a welcome return to childhood. Traditional pies are presented with style and flourish – the coconut cream pie and Mississippi mud pie are particular hits – and the cakes and cupcakes are always adorably frosted, styled and ready for any occasion, from Halloween to Independence Day. The whoopie pies – chunky, and filled to bursting with buttercream – are a must-try.
Known for their incredible breads, this café-bakery on University Avenue is a stark contrast to Elizabethan Desserts, with an ever-so-grownup menu – including a walnut and scallion bread or a lemon pugliese. The breads are fresh, flavorful and satisfying, while the pastries are equally appealing to the sophisticated palate. Bread and Cie boasts an impressive lunch menu, so you can enjoy a panini when picking up your weekly supply of delicious bread. The cater and provide wholesale options, too.
Baked, located at Santa Clara Place since 2009, has a well-earned reputation as one of the best bakeries in San Diego. Aside from a stunning line of cakes that appear more like artwork than edible treats (we guarantee you'll be compelled to have a mosey around inside upon catching a glimpse of the colorful gateaux on display) Baked boasts uncomplicated, delicious desserts. Cinnamon rolls, blueberry muffins and bread pudding are all classics that get the Baked treatment. Fresh, warm, packed with flavor and lovingly prepared, even the simplest of sweets is a treat here.
San Diego's Donut Bar is shamelessly, wonderfully hip, with flavored milks on draft and a confounding range of ever-evolving donuts. The freshly baked donuts are perfectly crisp on the outside and melting on the inside, certainly a worthy canvas for the creative flavor combinations with which the Donut Bar experiments daily. Some stellar successes have included salted caramel, strawberry split (yes, the donut is split and stuffed full of strawberries and cream) and even maple bacon. The good people of San Diego know the classic donut is great for a reason, but that's no reason not to experiment with the winning formula.
The Baked Bear on Mission Boulevard is a cookies 'n' cream heaven. The tried and true ice cream sandwich combo has never looked so colorful or tasted as good as it does at the Baked Bear. Perfect for kids and adults alike, the menu is a pick and mix of cookie type and ice cream flavor combos. The cookies are freshly baked and gourmet, the ice creams are packed full of chocolate chips, nuts, cake bits or dough balls, and the whole thing is brought together by colorful or luxuriant additions of sprinkles or syrups.