I'm not the first to fall for San Francisco's Tartine Bakery and Café; nor am I the first to write about it. I'm probably not the five-hundredth to write about it. But some places, truth be told, deserve all the praise that's heaped upon them. Even when that praise results in a thirty minute line. For a takeout counter. Mid-morning on a Wednesday.
Most French pastries are characterized by their restraint—butter, sugar, chocolate, sure, but in a small, tidy package; many American versions up the size at the pastry's expense. Tartine's, though enormous, are exquisite. Flaky, perfectly bronzed, and however mammoth, a nearly perfect pastry. The pain au jambon ($4.25, pictured above), while pricey, packs as much smoked ham and funky, oozy Gruyère as your average croque-monsieur, cradled in thick spirals of crispy croissant dough.
Tartine is best known for their morning bun ($3.25), soft and exquisitely buttery dough woven with cinnamon and orange, coated in sugar, and nearly always warm from the oven.
But perhaps best of all was the double pain au chocolat ($3.75), with a double barrel of dark, almost spicy, melted chocolate. The messiest breakfast imaginable, but worth every flake and chocolatey drip.
Tartine Bakery and Café
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