I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit of a bakery fanatic. Ever since I can remember, I’ve sought out locally owned spots to meet friends for coffee, knock out some computer work, or just indulge whatever daily pastry craving presents itself. Luckily for me and all of you fellow sweets enthusiasts out there, these past few years have brought with it an impressive string of new bakeries in Chicago that are turning the classic bakery concept on its head and carving out their own unique spot in the city’s pastry scene.
Wicker Park’s Americano 2211 has taken the city by storm this past year with its unique collection of treats. Founded by a group of prominent Chicago restaurateurs including Nancy Silver of Blackbird and Charlie Trotter’s and Chris Pappas of Sepia and Mia Francesca, Americano aims to embody the spirit of European street cafés by combining attributes of both a bakery/café and a bar/restaurant. In the morning, diners can choose from an impressive collection of housemade pastries like Rosemary Sea Salt Biscuits, Pistachio Financiers, and Cinnamon and Hickory Nut Brioche, while at night drinks and small savory plates are the name of the game. An ideal, laid-back spot for unique eats and charming neighborhood vibes. 2211 W. North Ave., Chicago, 773-360-8757
For a little something outside of the box, be sure to add Lakeview’s Loba Pastry and Coffee to your list. Founded by owner Val Taylor, formerly of Bad Wolf Coffee, which used to inhabit the same storefront, Loba aims to explore the pastry traditions of Taylor’s native Mexico through the lens of both traditional European and American pastries. Take the classic French Canele, which gets a flavor makeover from the addition of Mexican cajeta, a goats milk caramel, or Loba’s basic muffin recipe, which features familiar flavors like Lemon Poppyseed but adds new dimension through the addition of ground coriander. Paired with artisan coffee and a wide assortment of single estate teas, you’ve got about as ideal a hangout location as it gets. 3422 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, 773-456-9266
Sometimes, when it comes to baked goods, the classics are exactly what the doctor ordered. For Molly Svec (formerly of Blackbird and Hoosier Mama), that was exactly the vision for her new Oak Park spot, Spilt Milk, which houses a never-ending array of pies, cookies, tarts and breakfast pastries that reflect as many seasonal and local ingredients as possible. Its nearly impossible not to ogle over pie flavors like Boozy Bourbon Black Bottom Pecan, Cranberry Ginger or Spiced Apple Oatmeal Crumble, or cookie options like Spicy Mexican Chocolate Chip or Brown Butter Sugar cookies. Given Svec’s mission to always work with the best produce a given season has to offer, you can always expect to try something new and delectable any time of the year. 103 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, 708-613-4403
If you thought that soda fountains went out with the ‘50s, think again. Chicago’s Spinning J café and bakery is taking this beloved concept and giving it a fresh feel for a modern audience. Husband and wife team Parker Whiteway and Dinah Grossman opened their Humboldt Park spot back in 2015 with a focus on pies (flavors of which change seasonally) and unique soda creations all prepared using house-made soda syrups. Spinning J also offers a full savory café menu as well as other sweet bites like cookies and scones, which means you can have a fantastic meal or pick-me up whenever hunger strikes. 1000 N. California Ave. Chicago, 872-829-2793
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