Note: This guide was published in 2011. See our updated version here!
#1: Silver Moon Bakery: 2740 Broadway, New York NY (map); 212-866-4717; silvermoonbakery.com #2: Bouchon Bakery: 10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019 (map); 212-823-9357; 1 Rockefeller Plaza, New York NY 10020 (map); bouchonbakery.com #3: Sullivan Street Bakery: 533 West 47th Street, New York NY 10036 (map); 212-265-5580; sullivanstreetbakery.com
In honor of Serious Eats Bakery Week, we set out to answer a question that's been on our mind for ages: what's the best baguette in New York?
Because for every good baguette, there are dozens of disappointments. Tough, mouth-hurting crusts or doughy, spongy insides. A dried-out crumb or a flavor that's too sweet or too sour or just plain bland. We're tired of suffering bad bread—and wanted to find you the best in the city.
We sampled from a broad range of Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan bakeries reputed for baking excellence, including several store brands, too. Some New York bakeries (e.g. Tom Cat) have no retail store of their own; of these, we noted where we purchased them.
We deliberated at some length whether to include breads that were advertised as baguette-like (e.g. the stirato at Sullivan Street Bakery) and ultimately chose to include them, reasoning that, if you're looking for a baguette, you want the best long, slim, lightly crusty bread you can find—no matter what it's called. So read our results in that context; we're judging the suitability of each loaf in terms of what we're looking for in a baguette.
All baguettes were purchased from their respective bakeries by members of the Serious Eats team the morning of the taste test.
- Amy's Bread
- Bouchon Bakery
- Bouley Studio
- Eli's (purchased at Zabar's)
- Francois Payard Bakery
- Grandaisy Bakery
- La Bergamote
- Le Pain Quotidien
- Levain Bakery
- Margot Patisserie
- Pain D'Avignon (purchased at Dean and Deluca)
- Sullivan Street Bakery
- Silver Moon Bakery
- Tom Cat
- Whole Foods
We ranked the breads on three different criteria (crust texture, crumb texture, flavor) as well as overall quality. The interior should have good hole structure and irregular bubbles, a bit of stretch, and should taste pure and fresh, with adequate salt and no added sweetness; the crust should be deeply bronzed and caramelized, hard to the touch, but easy to bite through—it shouldn't be dried-out or leathery.
The Winners: All The Baguettes We Recommend
Unlike some taste tests, there wasn't a breakaway winner; "overall satisfaction" scores clustered between 4 and 6 on a 10-point scale: few raved about, few hated. Still, a few climbed to the top of the pack.
#1. Silver Moon (6.64/10)
Our winner had the testers' preferred flavor (which tracked overall score quite closely) and scored in the top 3 for both crumb and taste texture. It got called out for its "great soft interior and hole structure," and though some found it "slightly bland," most noted that there was "no off taste," which many breads suffered from; "good, balanced taste" seemed to be the general consensus. It wasn't a knockout winner, but it was a solid baguette.
#2. Bouchon Bakery (6.29/10)
"This is what I think of as a baguette: good chew, but not making your jaw hurt; not dense, but with a nice body." That summed up the tasters' opinion of Bouchon's baguette, another straightforward crowd-pleaser. It was called out for its "good stretch," "just chewy enough," and "simple flavor." Some found it a bit airy or sour, but it earned the highest marks for crust ("nice and crackly") and the second-highest for taste.
#3. Sullivan Street Bakery (6/10)
Sullivan Street doesn't call this a baguette (it's a stirato) and we deliberated over whether to include it; however, it looks like a baguette, has the crust and airy interior of a baguette, and in the end, we couldn't leave one of New York's most reputed bakeries out of a taste-test when they had a very similar loaf. And we're glad we did, as it earned the third-highest marks overall. "The outside tastes a bit charred," many noted, some liking the crustiness, some thinking it a bit much. "The interior is very stretchy," others noted, "in a good way." It came in just behind Bouchon in the crust department, and its "complex, awesome flavor" earned it third place.
#4, Tie. Tom Cat (5.71/10)
"Nice airy crumb, great crust." "I love how the crust is just chewy enough." While not everyone loved the sourness of Tom Cat's bread (though some did), just about everyone agreed on the "nice air bubbles" (it came in first for crumb texture) and "good inside-outside texture contrast."
#4, Tie. Almondine (5.71/10)
"I like the interior stretch," said some tasters, though others found it "gummy" or "doughy"; "decent crust" seemed to be the consensus. While Almondine placed in the middle of the pack as far as texture, its taste scored much higher, with many tasters liking the "gentle, mellow sweetness."
Almondine Bakery: DUMBO and Park Slope Locations; www.almondinebakery.com
#4, Tie. Le Pain Quotidien (5.71/10)
The tasters who liked Le Pain Quotidien appreciated its crust, "firm and chewy but not at all tough," though others found it a bit overbaked; some liked its "simple, mellow flavor," whereas others called it "a bit bland." Still, there are worse things. "I would totally serve this with wine and cheese," wrote one taster, and others seemed to agree: though not everyone loved this baguette, almost no one had any major criticism of it.
#5. Eli's (5.64/10)
Eli's was another loaf that wasn't loved, but wasn't really criticized. Some liked it for being "chewy and mild," and others noted that there's "not much of a crackly crust," "Safe but sort of boring," wrote one taster, and others agreed: "Absolutely acceptable, but not memorable."
#6, Tie. Balthazar (5.29/10)
Despite a "beautiful hole structure," this baguette may have been a bit past its prime: "a little tough" and "maybe stale?" were a few representative comments. Still, the "great crumb" led many to think it a pretty solid pick.
#6, Tie. Bouley (5.29/10)
With a "pretty good crust" but a "slightly doughy," "somewhat gummy" interior, Bouley Studio's baguette had a "decent, mild flavor" that pulled it up in the pack.
Bouley Studio: 130 W. Broadway, New York NY 10013 (map)
#7. Grandaisy Bakery (5.25/10)
"Light insides, which I like. Very lightweight." "I really like the crumb." Grandaisy's also-not-quite-a-baguette was a little too crusty in baguette context, but the nice crumb and interior flavor still won high marks. On its own terms, this is bread we'd enjoy if we wanted something super-crusty.
#8: Whole Foods » (4.86/10) #9: Levain Bakery » (4.79/10) #10: Petrossian » (4.71/10) #11: Amy's Bread » (4.29/10) #11: Margot Patisserie » (4.29/10) #12: Bottega Falai » (4.21/10) #13: Pain D'Avignon » (4.14/10) #14: Francois Payard Bakery » (4/10) #14: Cannelle Patisserie » (4/10) #15: La Bergamote » (2.71/10)
Read about 'em all in the slideshow above.
More "Best Of"-s!
- Serious Eats Finds New York's Best Bagel »
- The Best Bakeries in New York: American-Style »
- The Best Fried Dumplings in Chinatown, NYC »
- The Best Doughnuts in NYC »
- 15 Meatballs in NYC We Love »
- The Best Falafel In New York City »
- The Best Croissant in New York »
- The Best Oatmeal In New York City »
- The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie In New York City »
- The Best Macaroni and Cheese in New York City »
- Best Cheesecake in New York »
- Best Ramen in New York City»
- Best Bread Baskets in New York City »
- A Guide to the Best Doughnuts in New York »
- NYC's Top 10 Ice Cream Sandwiches »
The Rest of Bakery Week...
The Best Bakeries in New York: American-Style »
The Best Bakeries in New York: French-Style »
My Top 10 Bakery Sweets in NYC »
Where To Get The Best Pies in New York (Our Top 5) »
Good Bread: My Favorite Loaves in New York »