Flour Bakery + Cafe

By Eric Twardzik · 01/05/2017    Back Bay (+) · Bakery · Cafe · $$

Ahh, Flour. It’s hard to find a bakery with a higher pedigree. This sweets-and-sandwiches purveyor’s seven consistently crowded locations—spread across Back Bay, the South End, Fort Point, Seaport, and Cambridge—are helmed by James Beard Award-winner Joanne Chang. We love that Flour’s success and acclaim haven’t obscured its most immediate virtue: pure whimsy. Each location features blackboards scrawled with childish handwriting announcing specials (quiche of the day, stuffed bread of the day, etc.) and a stunning amount of bright, bountiful, and colorful baked treats.

A well-kept secret this is not. Prepare to face a throng whenever you visit, whether it’s the weekend morning-after crowd recovering over breakfast sandwiches and gossip or weekday warriors making the most of the free wifi and (not free) homemade Oreos.

On the sweet side, it’d be difficult not to pick something delicious here. But two classics always have a place in our hearts: the Sticky Bun and the Banana Bread. Flour also shines when it comes to savory offerings, with a good many vegetarian options, to boot. We count the Grilled Cauliflower Melt and the Applewood-Smoked Bacon sandwich among our favorites.

Baking isn’t the only thing Flour has mastered; add merchandising to the list, too. A wait in line offers the chance to peruse take-home goodies, such as homemade granola or dog treats, as well as baking supplies like vanilla sugar, Flour-branded aprons, or one of Chang’s several books on baking. You’ll perfect that Sticky Bun someday.

Flour is remarkably accessible to the dietary-restricted. Whole swaths of the savory and sweet menus are marked vegetarian, vegan, or nut-free, and all sandwiches (save the grilled chicken and the artichoke melt) can be made with gluten-free bread (or into a salad) upon request.

You can sign up for baking classes led by Flour’s pastry chef at the Allston kitchen. A few are held each month, and tend to sell out early.

Treats from Flour occasionally pop up on the dessert menu at Chang’s excellent Asian small plates restaurant, Myers + Chang. Additionally, Flour can bake special occasion cakes for Myers + Chang guests with advance notice.

Must Haves

  • This seriously sticky treat benefits from rich, buttery dough and a heaping crown of pecans.

  • Dense and nutty enough to count as a meal in its own right.

  • For lovers of textural contrast. The oozing Oaxacan cheese stretches like fresh mozzarella between those toasty bread slices, while the mix of cauliflower, smoked poblano relish, and pumpkin seed butter is swoonably savory. (If possible, try this one alongside Flour's tomato-fennel soup.)

  • A triumphant take on the BLT piles extra-crispy bacon on toasted focaccia with mayo, tomato, and arugula for a crunchy, never-soggy treat.

Fun Fact

Chang is an honors graduate of Harvard with degrees in Applied Mathematics and Economics. Luckily for us, she ultimately chose to devote her considerable intellect to creating delicious food.

Tastes of Flour Bakery + Cafe

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