Breaking Bread: Loaves to Love from Coast to Coast

Made from heirloom organic wheat, freshly milled flour and natural yeast, these artisan breads come from a crop of passionate bakers.

Where to Get Great Bread

These bakeries across the country are known for their standout artisan breads. Pick up a loaf and take your sandwich game to the next level.

Photo by Neal Santos

Brookline, Mass.: Clear Flour Breads

The crowds come before 8 a.m. at Clear Flour, lassoed in by the smell of fresh bread. Owned by husband and wife Christy Timon and Abram Faber, the bakery has been part of the backbone of the Brookline, Mass., community since 1982. Using a variety of organic flours, Clear Flour turns out over 30 types of European bread, including an outstanding baguette and a variety of German-style rye breads like the 100-percent-rye Vollkornbrot. On Friday evenings, you can pick up a loaf of oatmeal-cinnamon-raisin bread swirled with scratch-made brown sugar, cinnamon, butter and raisins. It's wise to be there.

Photo by Inga Sheaffer

Chicago: Baker Miller

Dave and Megan Miller are bread bakers true to their name. That's because they're also millers, grinding heirloom and organic wheat on two local farms and inside their Chicago bakery. Their freshly milled flour is sold online and baked into crusty loaves of Chicago Sourdough, Ancho Chili Cocoa Nib, Sunflower Rye and Sparrow Onion Rye. "People don’t realize that flour has aroma and terroir," says Dave. "When you buy it in the store it's been chemically processed. We want everyone to understand the beauty of freshly milled flour."

Kansas City, Mo.: Fervere Bakery and Bread Studio

A handcrafted hearth built from stone and brick to the specifications of Australian oven designer, mason and artisan baker Alan Scott is the centerpiece of this popular Kansas City bakery. The high-heat oven produces breads with dark crusts and a soft, moist crumb. Bakers and co-owners Chad Russell and Dan Wehner produce nearly a dozen types of bread, including olive-rosemary, sprouted whole wheat, heirloom polenta and their best-selling Orchard — made from organic wheat flour and studded with apricots, apples, golden raisins and walnuts. Specials include Cheese Slippers with farm-fresh egg on Saturdays, and cranberry-almond bread with chocolatier Christopher Elbow's blend of Valrhona chocolate.

Photo by Chad Russell

Los Angeles: Clark Street Bread

In 2014, Zach Hall, a 29-year-old former musician who had fallen in love with bread baking while working at Proof Bakery and Kenter Canyon Farms, set out to bake his own loaves out of his tiny West Hollywood apartment on Clark Street. Now he's got a brand-new retail shop and a sparkling production kitchen where he bakes bread for restaurants like Trois Mec, Craft, Cafe Stella, Dinette, Sqirl and Terrine. Clark sources flour from locally grown, stone-milled heirloom and organic flour for loaves of country (white sourdough), whole wheat, seeded (sesame, sunflower, flax), Alpine brot (whole-grain with coriander and caraway) and Danish rye. If you're lucky, you'll get a taste of specials like chocolate mini baguettes, cinnamon-raisin bread and pan dulce.

Photo by Zach Hall

New York City: Hot Bread Kitchen

There's a lot more than baking going on at Hot Bread Kitchen. The Spanish Harlem bakery, which opened in 2008, serves not only as a kitchen, but also as a job-training facility — with ESL and professional development — for low-income and immigrant women. These bakers-in-training learn to bake, and share recipes for a variety of indigenous breads. You'll find heritage corn tortillas, Armenian lavash, and m’smen, a buttery, flaky Moroccan flatbread, alongside staples like New York rye, sourdough, walnut-raisin and a Upstate Multigrain. Sixty women have graduated from the program since 2008, and more enroll every month. That's bread for life.

Philadelphia: High Street on Market

Alex Bois moonlighted as a pastry cook while studying biochemistry at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, before realizing he wanted to be a baker, not a scientist. After a stint in New York with Sullivan Street Bakery's legendary Jim Lahey, he moved to Philly to open High Street on Market as head baker. His breads are miraculous — crusty and pillowy, with just the right amount of chew. They are made from whole and cracked grains and stone-ground specialty flours fresh from local Castle Valley Mill. Don't miss the Vegetable Ash Levain, the Sesame Tahini Bread or the best-selling Anadama Miche, made with whole wheat, corn and molasses.

Photo by Neal Santos

Pittsboro, NC: Chicken Bridge Bakery

Shoppers at the Carrboro or Durham farmers market are wise to get to the Chicken Bridge Bakery stand early. The breads, made from locally milled, organic North Carolina flour baked by Rob and Monica Segovia-Welsh in their home wood-fired oven, are hot sellers. Try a rustic wheat-and-rye baguette, a sourdough rye pretzel (Wednesdays only), a hearty loaf of Danish seeded rye (Saturdays only) or a farmhouse sourdough with a Celtic-tree stencil that's almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

Photo by Rob Segovia-Welsh

Portland, Ore.: Tabor Breads

It's rare to find an artisan bakery that doubles as a tango studio, but at Tabor Breads, in Portland, Ore., both are happening: tango monthly, and bread baking daily — to the tune of 200 pounds of local wheat milled in a stone mill located next to the mixer (it's quite a conversation piece). Head baker Brad Holderfield turns out weekday workhorses like white and wheat batard, spelt loaf and seeded red wheat. On Saturdays he bakes oatmeal bread with oats, cranberries, almonds and coriander, and on Sundays he makes anadama bread — a showstopper made from molasses, cornmeal and light rye, studded with white chocolate, cherries, hazelnuts and fennel. Happy days.

Photo by Lee-Ellen Reed

San Francisco: The Mill

If you were to mill 350 pounds of flour, you'd get 350 loaves of bread. That's precisely what goes on daily at Josey Baker's The Mill in San Francisco. All of Josey Baker's breads are made from freshly milled heirloom wheat, with a sourdough culture — what Baker (seriously, it's his last name) calls "that magical mixture of wild yeast and bacteria." Baker is known for loaves made from hearty heirloom wheat like California Heirloom bread, Einkorn, Dark Mountain Rye and Black Pepper Parmesan, one of the bakery's best-sellers. "We can never make enough of this one," Josey warns.

Photo by Josey Baker

Washington, D.C.: Bread Furst

Master baker Mark Furstenberg helped bring artisan bread to Washington in the '90s with Marvelous Market and Breadline. In May 2014, he opened Bread Furst, a bakery and restaurant, and the lines started forming. They have not yet stopped. Staples include a country levain, the Palladin — a ciabatta-based recipe and ode to the legendary chef Jean-Louis Palladin — and French baguettes, baked fresh every four hours. You'll also find ryes, ancient-grain breads, flatbreads, rich brioche and a daily batch of bagels, boiled in malt-sweetened water to caramelize the crust, then baked on a hearth. On weekends, score bialys and challah.