Patisserie 46, Rustica, Patrick’s Bakery & Cafe, the Salty Tart—the Twin Cities is blessed with a wealth of exceptional French-style bakeries. But there’s a downside: Thanks to the easy access to stellar baguettes and exquisite croissants, other local breads and pastries don’t get the attention they deserve. From beef curry puffs to cherry streusels, here are the praise-worthy carbohydrates at the Twin Cities’ hidden gem bakeries.
Kramarczuk’s isn’t exactly under the radar—their kielbasa has its own festival. But all of the attention to the gleaming cases of meat at the front of the store distracts from the Eastern European bakery items in the corner. These are pastries of substance: A cheese kolachi, filled with tart cream cheese and drizzled with icing, will tide you through till lunch. Hearty loaves of bread—sold as full-sized or half loaves—are the honest sort of food your grandma would approve of. The Polish rye has a robust sourdough tang, while the dense pumpernickel is filling enough to eat as a meal.
215 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
If you’re down to your last few bucks and in desperate need of a sugar high, swing by Marissa’s Market. The self-service bakery is a veritable buffet of Mexican sweets—just grab a tray and load up. Some of the pastries are in cases with price lists, but most are sold fresh from the oven on bakery racks. Don’t let the lack of pricing information dissuade you, since nothing seems to be more than $1.50. The churros are the best bargain: nearly a foot long, with delicately crunchy exteriors and meltingly tender innards. Other top picks are the empanada de crema, a sugar-dusted pastry filled with thick vanilla custard, and the remolinos, crispy pinwheels with jam centers.
2750 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis
Dur Dur Bakery & Grocery
Despite listing “bakery” in the name, most of Dur Dur Bakery & Grocery’s floor space is devoted to halal meat and packaged goods. But the bakery shelves up front make this Somali corner store worth a stop. There are hefty bags of injera, plump loaves of fresh roti, and best of all, little zip-top plastic bags of cookies. Try the qunbe, a very sweet, crumbly coconut bar reminiscent of a macaroon. Not much of a sugar fiend? Opt for the korsanyo, heart-shaped twists of mildly sweetened bread laced with a bit of vanilla pudding.
1552 E. Lake St., Minneapolis
Aki’s Bread Haus
Since it’s a German bakery, the bestselling items at Aki’s Bread Haus are obvious: the pretzels. Sold as sticks, rolls, or traditional twists, these chewy delights are in a separate category above the soulless food court versions. But where this bakery really shines are the streusels, more understated and wholesome-tasting than their American counterparts. Especially noteworthy is the streusel topped with tart Michigan cherries, although the apple is a close runner up. Don’t forget to grab a couple broetchen for dinner—these crusty hard rolls are eminently worthy of a bit of extra chewing effort.
2506 Central Ave., Minneapolis
Keefer Court Bakery & Café
If your main beef with bakeries is that there isn’t enough meat on the menu, Keefer Court Bakery & Café is your kind of the place. There’s an assortment of baked and steamed Chinese buns on offer, filled with BBQ pork, ham, or sausage. The beef curry puff is a turnover for carnivores, filled with tender shreds of spiced brisket. Vegetarians, don’t despair—you can have your pick of a selection of sweet buns. Try a puffy bun oozing with vanilla custard or a crisp fried sesame ball filled with sweetened red bean paste.
326 Cedar Ave. S, Minneapolis
The Swedish Crown Bakery
The Swedish Crown Bakery prides itself on carefully crafting pastries with organic and non-artificial ingredients; a few of the products are also gluten-free. But whatever your stance on GMOs, these Scandinavian baked goods are worth the drive to Anoka. The signature items are the sweet breads—try an almond twisty rolled with almond paste and house-made custard, or the “in Sweden” pastry, a swirl of cardamom bread with a seasonal filling (right now it’s “Winter in Sweden” with molasses and pumpkin spices). In the mood for something savory? The pungent garlic sourdough will render you unkissable, but it’s so delectably chewy that you won’t care.
530 W. Main St., Anoka