The artisanal bread scene in Los Angeles is finally catching up with that of our venerable Bay Area neighbors, despite fighting an uphill battle against the gluten-intolerant, carb-phobic Angeleno stereotype (which is, like, only half-true). We dug into the city’s best bakeries—from ritzy restaurant boulangeries to fermentation-obsessed holes in the wall—to find the most delicious loaves. After getting the entire office in on the blind taste-test and running through more butter than any single group of people should ever consume, we found L.A.’s crème de la crumb.
It’s tough to choose a single loaf from one of L.A.’s buzziest bakeries, but the organic sesame wheat embodies everything Gjusta does well. Organic flours (40 percent whole wheat), a dark bake, and bold flavors come by way of a sesame seed topper. “I like to take it to the edge of burnt,” says chef-owner Travis Lett. The char toasts the seeds and amps up the nuttiness.
320 Sunset Ave., Venice, 310-314-0320 or gjusta.com
Rye: Lodge Bread
Rye is the “It” flour of 2016, beloved for the ability to switch-hit between sour and sweet. The aggressive sprouted rye bread from Lodge uses 100 percent organic rye flour and is double fermented, yielding a puckeringly sour German-style loaf. This is the stuff smoked salmon dreams of. According to co-owner Alex Phaneuf, the loaf requires two days to prepare, which might explain the $10 price tag.
11918 Washington Blvd., Culver City, 424-384-5097 or lodgebread.com
Brioche: Proof Bakery
You’ll be hard-pressed to resist the pastry case stocked with chocolate croissants and towering canelés at Proof, but you’re here for the brioche. Butter yellow on the inside, golden and glistening on the outside, the loaf straddles the line between cake and bread. The small bakery offers only a few brioche loaves per day, and they’re not on the menu, so order early.
3156 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village, 323-664-8633 or proofbakeryla.com
Baguette: The Rose
Many a French nose has been bloodied over who has the best baguette, but we feel safe hailing the crusty, airy version from the Francophiles at this newcomer. While purists may balk at the addition of salt (sacré bleu!), we like how much flavor it adds to the otherwise simple crumb. The team at the Rose bakes new batches up to five times each day to ensure peak freshness.
220 Rose Ave., Venice, 310-399-0711 or rosecafevenice.com
Country Loaf: Seed Bakery
Come again? We can hardly hear you over the deafening crackle of Seed’s country loaf. Naturally leavened (versus made with commercial yeast) and using freshly milled organic flour, the brown bâtard is as moist as a typical whole wheat but has a softer crumb. The supersour rye is another reason to stop.
942 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena, 626-486-2115 or seedbakerypasadena.com
Challah: Schwartz Bakery
You’ll find yellower loaves on many a Shabbat table, but the pleasantly yeasty taste of Schwartz’s challah belies its paler hue. The 62-year-old kosher bakery uses a smidge more sugar than most; adjust your French toast recipe accordingly. Our favorite is called San Diego challah (nobody at Schwartz could tell us why); the chain has a more savory egg version, too.
Multiple locations, schwartzbakeryla.com
Sourdough: Larder Baking Co.
Though we’ve heard a lot about the baking arm of Suzanne Goin’s empire, this sourdough still took us by surprise. It ain’t fussy, but fans of the traditional San Francisco style will adore the classic taste. That potent tang, shiny crust, and almost gooey texture are the work of master baker Nathan Dakdouk. The fruit and nut loaves—especially the blueberry—deserve equal kudos.
Multiple locations, larderbakingco.com
Pastry chef Margarita Manzke says her first priority is to supply the restaurant. If that also results in some of the city’s finest takeout loaves, so be it. The supple multigrain dough proofs in a woven basket, lending gorgeous swirls to the bronze boule. This year Manzke is devoting greater attention to the retail bakery. Expect more toasty varieties soon.
624 S. La Brea Ave., Mid Wilshire, 310-362-6115 or republiquela.com