You want to know how I find all of the best bakeries? Here's my secret.
Here's the thing. People love telling me about their favorite bakeries.
And I love hearing about people's favorite bakeries. And when they tell me about them, if I find myself in a geographically convenient place, I will seek them out.
So when Alithea suggested the San Francisco Street Bakery in Olympia, WA (which, interestingly, turns out to be located on San Francisco Avenue, not Street), I made a mental note, and when I was passing through on my way to Portland for Crafty Wonderland, I made sure to stop there.
This is the type of bakery I adore. Slightly off the beaten path, you can tell that this is a place beloved by locals—it is a daily place, the type of spot that locals would drop in every day for years, where the staff would know what they wanted before they even ordered.
But on my visit, as a newbie, I had to take it all in. Bread's big here, with all sorts of challah, hippie-Northwest loaves, and traditional breads—but my eyes were fixed on the baked goods. Cookies, cakes, pies, and cream puffs and french pastry—they had it all. But what called to me was one of the simple treats: a spiral chocolate and vanilla butter cookie.
Buttery, with a perfect crumb that didn't crumble as much as yield, this cookie was redolent of butter, and the chocolate swirl added the perfect slightly bitter and rich dimension to the cookie to make it more interesting than a mere butter cookie, but still simple, sweet, and delicious. The pleasure of a cookie like this is simple, but sweet and delicious—and this is a place where it can be savored. Though I didn't try it, trusted sources say that they have “the best brioche ever” and “amazing macaroons”.
And for extra Northwest hippie points, they have their own garden in the back.
San Francisco Street Bakery, 1350 San Francisco Ave NE, Olympia, WA; online here.