The best neighborhood bakeries make desserts and cookies so good they transport you—to your childhood or to the fabulous week you spent in Rome.
Forget the mass-produced, trans-fat-laden baked goods wrapped in cellophane. Go for fresh.
Tiramisu cupcakes, fresh filled cannolis or a peach tart that tastes like peaches and almonds. Only better. Here are our top 5 bakeries and the best treat (and close runners up) that each has to offer.
Worth a splurge: Parisienne Macaroons
The closest you’re going to come to Ladurée’s famous macaroons without hopping on a jet. Crispy egg white and almond cookies sandwiched together with ganache or cream. Délicieux.
Also try: Award-winning raisin rye bread and the peach-honey shortcake.
These sweet ricotta-cheese filled cannolis decorated with crushed pistachios are a classic combination of sweet crispiness and creaminess. Textural and taste heaven.
Also try: Sfogliatelle, a lemon- and almond-filled pastry, is a croissant that’s been to Milan for finishing school. Italian cookies are fresh and buttery, with a huge number of varieties.
Worth a splurge: Cakes
Call Maier’s when you need a birthday, wedding or anniversary cake. Decorator Cheryl Brady can replicate Wrigley Field or your child’s favorite storybook character. And the cakes are delicious! Our favorite: a classic chocolate with buttercream. These cakes are fresh and moist, and you’ll wonder why you ever wasted a calorie on a supermarket cake.
Also try: Doughnuts (fried fresh each morning and made from scratch) and the Holiday Fruit Cake that the original owner, 90-year-old Mr. Maier, still comes in to make each year.
Three Tarts Bakery and Café
Worth a splurge: Tarts, which change seasonally
Lemon Curd with Raspberries, Peach Frangipan or Mocha Mousse with Espresso Bean. How’s a girl to choose? The toppings are fresh and inventive on a light, flaky crust. Perfect with a cup of tea.
Also try: Banana Cake with Chocolate Ganache and the Rosemary Bread Sticks
Wildflour Bakery & Café