The flavors and name (meaning “a small dining table”) of Ana Sortun’s Sofra have Turkish origins; fittingly, this small space in West Cambridge resembles a bazaar. It’s stacked full of Eastern treats, from Tahini Shortbread to Almond-Rose Cakes, as well as house-made preserves and spice blends to take home. Of course, you can always stick around and share some of the Shawarma or stellar dips from the meze menu—just make to get some pita bread on the side.
From croissants to croque madames, these Boston bakeries do flour power best.
Café Madeleine comes with a serious pedigree: Pastry chef Frederic Robert has racked up over 25 years of experience in kitchens from Paris to Vegas. Now he’s settled down in a quiet corner of the South End, where he serves classical French pastry and La Colombe coffee. Croissants may be the calling card, but the Chocolate Eclairs are not to miss. The small, airy space includes a glass wall to provide a full view of the kitchen—it’s pastry theater at its best.
Home-baked chain Tatte has six locations scattered across the Boston area, and there seems to be a perpetual crowd at each and every one. What draws us in are the East-meets-West flavors of Israeli-born owner Tzurit Or; excellent renditions of both Shakshuka and Croque Madame appear on the brunch menu. On the baked side, you’ll find indulgent cakes and pastries alongside halvah-topped brownies and extra-thick loaves of challah. Coffee from Stumptown is on call to stir you from your carb-induced daze.
Though Joanne Chang’s whimsical micro-chain Flour Bakery + Cafe is best known for its indulgent, buttery sticky buns, it does a remarkable job catering to all types of eaters. That inclusiveness may have something to do with its runaway success—six locations are now spread throughout Boston and Cambridge. The pastry menu is chock-full of friendly reassurances for those with nut allergies or gluten intolerances, and all but two of their excellent sandwiches can be made on gluten-free bread or in salad form.
Brookline-based Clear Flour Bread serves a handful of pastries, but the real draw is bread: 26 varieties are in rotation. Mainstays like French Baguette or Rosemary Focaccia can be found any day of the week, while rarer picks like Challah or Soft German Pretzels only emerge on certain days (the bread calendar can be checked online). For the freshest crusts, clear your morning; lines tend to form before opening time, particularly on weekends.