Short Cake • Los Angeles, California
Recently opened amidst the hustle and bustle of LA's Original Farmers Market, Short Cake has, in short time, become one of the city's best destinations for old-fashioned baked goods with a modern twist. Updated classics include cakes, cookies, pies, croissants, and bars like the Chocolate Bear Claw, Brown Butter Tart with seasonal fruit, and the Brunette, a grown-up take on the blondie with pine nuts and thyme. Ingredients are sourced from local, organic, and artisanal producers such as Straus dairy, TCHO chocolate, and Anson Mills grains.
Insider Tip! Balance out the sweet with Aunt Nancy's Shakerato, an icy jolt of espresso (four shots!), milk, and honey.
Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts • Seattle, Washington
When you say the word "donut" in the same sentence as "Seattle," Top Pot is undeniably the topic at hand. With hand-forged donuts baked daily in their many locations city-wide, locals and tourists alike rub elbows over strong coffee and the not-to-be-missed apple fritter. Folks who work at one of the cafes will likely tell you to make sure and try the old-fashioned glazed donuts, a classic that just can't be beat. (If you want to try these splendid doughnuts at home, make sure to also pick up a copy of their new cookbook.)
Insider Tip! A locals' favorite remains the Double Trouble, a chocolate donut with a rich chocolate icing.
Miette • San Francisco, California
This darling San Francisco Bakery is a must-stop for any sweet tooth's tour of the city. Located in the historic Ferry Building and in the charming Hayes Valley neighborhood, each shop sells beautiful cakes, cupcakes, cookies, candies and other sweets. And if you're on an afternoon stroll, pick yourself up one of their crisp gingersnap cookies or a hazelnut macaron. This is the perfect place to treat yourself well. And others, too.
Insider Tip! For a special-occasion cake that's almost too pretty to eat, the Raspberry Tomboy or the Old-Fashioned are tried-and-true favorites.
One Girl Cookies • Brooklyn, New York
Dawn Casale started One Girl Cookies from a simple idea: cookies could be presented as beautifully as chocolates, instead of just tossed in a tin. Ten years later, the concept has grown from one girl churning out cookies in a tiny West Village apartment (see Dawn's home kitchen here!) to a staff of 16 in a thriving Brooklyn storefront. It's a shop with a romantic flair in and out, too — not only are the treats beautiful enough for a princess's birthday party, but Dawn's own story is a bit of a fairy tale, creating this beautiful bakery, finding just the right baker, Dave, who became more than a business partner — in 2005, the duo celebrated the opening of their Brooklyn storefront and their own wedding.
Insider Tip! Must try? The pumpkin whoopie pie — the shop's bestselling treat.
BAKESHOP • Portland, Oregon
BAKESHOP is a small, simple bakery in the heart of one of Portland's historic neighborhoods, and it is a quiet powerhouse. Its owner, Kim Boyce, wrote an award-winning cookbook, Good to the Grain, demonstrating that whole grain baking can be even more delicious than you imagined. The shop pours out incredibly nutty and delicious baked goods every day, like chocolate slab cookies studded with pepitas, whole wheat chocolate chip cookies, and apricot crumble bars. Wholesome ingredients, scrumptious results.
Insider Tip! The Figgy Buckwheat Scones are legendary and incredibly popular among locals.
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(Images: Emily Ho, Megan Gordon, Cambria Bold, Leela Cyd Ross)