“Don't fill up on bread,” a few million parents have warned, seated around a trattoria table, a basket of steaming slices and a cup of olive oil at its center. Their children have never listened, and it's no wonder. Bread is a much better food than a band, not the perfect food, of course, but for many the most satisfying–filling, simple, fragrant when warm, a confluence of pleasing textures. At home, many of us go through a loaf a week. Unfortunately, in Los Angeles, great bread is often surprisingly hard to find. Even the “artisanal” vendors at our farmers market don't deserve to share a shelf with Acme. You know the situation is dire when you look forward to par-baked ciabatta from Trader Joe's. Below we share a handful of exceptions to the rule. And we welcome any suggestions, since you may strenuously disagree with our list. Fine. Just weigh in.
Best Bet: A standard baguette. Eat one end in the car, while driving home. Sandwiches for dinner. Tomorrow, make croutons. The following day, use as a club or feed to pigeons.
Locations: 8718 West 3rd St., Los Angeles; (310) 205-0124; 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 277-3770
4. Euro Pane
Best Bet: Brioche. If Marie Antoinette had actually said, “Qu'ils mangent de la brioche,” she would not have been telling her hungry subjects to eat cake. She would have been encouraging them, instead, to eat one of these rich eggy baubles. Just as insensitive, we think.
Location: 950 East Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 577-1828
Best Bet: Challah, dude. Challah makes amazing French toast and bread pudding. We also like it wrapped around a mass of rare roast beef.
Location: 5005 Kanan Rd., Agoura Hills; (818) 597-8774
Best Bet: A chewy, salt-studded pretzel bread. The bakery layers slices with roast turkey and cranberry sauce. We can imagine a brat and some spicy mustard taking to it well too.
Location: 12835 W Washington Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 578-8171
1. The bread you make yourself.
Best Bet: Even those semi-crusty cubes your mom used to do in a bread machine beat the yeast out of anything that comes in a bag at Whole Foods and stacks up fairly well to what often passes for “artisanal” (there's that word again…) bread. Start anywhere: Here, here, or here.
Location: Your crib.