Seattle and Starbucks go together like Orlando and Disneyland, and while the first ever Starbucks at Pike Place might well be worthy of a tourism checklist, it certainly doesn’t serve up the best coffee and pastries in the Emerald City. For far beyond the walls of the many generic cafés in the city, some of America's finest pastry chefs are ready to deliver delicious baked goods in every shape, size and flavor imaginable. From handmade artisan breads to delicately piped cupcakes, Seattle's best bakeries are a delightful education in lovingly crafted pastries. So, the discriminating foodie tourist may want to forgo the overpriced Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks and indulge, instead, in some of the freshest delights on offer at Seattle's five best bakeries.
The Macrina Bakery, established in Seattle in 1993, has been providing tried and tested breads to the gourmandos of Seattle for as long as its oven doors have been open. The sweet pastries doled out here are less airy or fluffy than most offered around the city, and instead dense, cream-filled and indulgent; while the breakfast and brunch menus offer delicious sandwiches on fresh breads. It's the quality of the artisan bread, in every shape, form and flavor, which keeps Seattleites coming back for more at Macrina.
Crumble and Flake on Capitol Hill has gained a reputation for some of the best, most authentic French pastries available in Seattle. With the perfect combination of crisp, soft and gooey, Crumble and Flake is the one of the best places macaroons (second only to the next entry on our list) while the croissants (so often disappointing) are as light and crumbly as the bakery's name promises. The pièce de resistance here, though, is their Kouign-amann – a crispy, sugary, buttery sin that has Seattle buzzing.
With so many artisan, gourmet and hand-crafted goods on offer at Pike Place, it can be difficult to suss out a really great cafe. Le Panier is just that. A formidable range of gourmet croissants and fruit-heavy tart menu bring the taste of the French patisserie to downtown Seattle. Le Panier is a classic, elegant bakery and cafe with an ambience perfectly conducive to the leisurely enjoyment of a cappuccino and a tarte aux pommes. The real crowds are drawn to Le Panier, however, by their colorful, impressive selection of perfectly crafted macaroons.
Dahlia prides itself on its legendary coconut cream pie, which is a resounding favorite for any Seattle food lover. This isn't their only success, however; the Dahlia Bakery boasts a comprehensive menu with something for every palate. Gluten-free, flourless and low-sugar are all options here, but none compromise on the indulgent quality for which this bakery is renowned. The breads and sandwiches are reasonable, but it's the sweets – from cakes to chocolate truffle cookies – which make Dahlia Bakery memorable and second trip-worthy.
West Seattle's award winning bakery has a stellar reputation as one of the best eateries in the city, and it has the baked goods to back it up. The simple croissant is far from simple in the hands of William and Heather Leaman, the family-run Bakery Nouveau's chief pastry chefs. Vanilla cranberry twice-baked croissant? Bakery Nouveau has it. Chocolate mousse is a complex, rich creation here, while the breads are subtly flavored, soft and best served fresh and warm. The savory lunch option – like the sandwiches and quiches – are as exciting as their sweet counterparts.