During my trip to San Francisco last week, I asked three separate locals where I should go for the best dessert in town; the unanimous vote was the Tartine Bakery. A quick search on the Internet confirmed their “best bakery” status, and I set out to go there for lunch.
There is always a line at Tartine, giving you plenty of time to decide which one of the impressive desserts you want to take home. You’ll begin your wait next to a refrigerated glass display, housing several beautiful cakes (including Chocolate Soufflé, Devil’s Food, Coconut Passion Fruit Bavarian, and more), along with a selection of tarts, truffles, and puddings (served in individual ceramic mugs, just like Mom used to make). Although the servers are quick to get your order for you, do not be too hasty in deciding since a range of muffins, pastries, and my personal choice, the brioche bread pudding, don’t come into view until you are closer to the register.
You take your bakery selections immediately and hot food orders are brought out to your table when ready. To make my meal a “legitimate” lunch, I ordered a sandwich (paninis are made with their homemade bread) in addition to my enormous bowl of bread pudding. But as fate would have it, it was impossible to wait for the sandwich while this buttery, sugary mass of brioche and fruit was staring at me. If you can fend off the crowds eyeing your seat, this is a nice place to sip coffee (or wine), enjoy a European style atmosphere, and work up your appetite between courses.
Tartine is in the Mission district of San Francisco, a rapidly growing area known for its great Mexican food. While Tartine is crowded with young, trendy customers, the area within two blocks (in any direction) of the bakery can be a bit seedy, so take care when walking over from the BART station.
600 Guerrero Street @ 18th San Francisco, CA 94110
Monday 8:00am-2:00pm (no cakes, tarts or bread)
Bread is available after 4pm everyday except Monday and Tuesday.