Is there anywhere that smells better than a bakery? Kinda don’t think so. Whether they’re whipping up classics, like fluffy bread and soft cookies, or creating less common treats, like pear tarts and sesame balls, bakeries are havens for your senses. Toronto is lucky to have a ton of them tucked in every neighbourhood, hidden gems and outright community hubs alike. And obviously the right people to recommend these places would be us at FLARE, because truly nothing makes us happier than biting into a buttery, flaky croissant.
Here, 10 FLARE editors and contributors make their picks for the best bakery in Toronto.
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The lowdown: This popular Toronto pastry destination has an equally sweet love story behind it: Owners Stephanie Duong and Bruce Lee fell in love while working in Michelin-starred establishments in France (awwwww) and opened their first French-inspired, yet modern and playful, pastry shop in Corktown fours years later. They opened the doors of their Queen West flagship in 2019.
Must order: It’s hard to overstate how divine everything is at Roselle, from the lemon tart to the banana cream eclair. But the can’t-miss item comes from the somewhat more humble viennoiseries selection (who doesn’t love an unfussy pastry you can hand bomb while strolling down Queen West with a latte?): the cinnamon kouign-amann. A dusting of cinnamon coats layers of beautifully caramelized pastry that’s impossibly buttery and flaky on the outside. Perfection! —Jennifer Berry, managing editor
Find it: 345 Spadina Avenue
The lowdown: Chinatown has a lot of bakeries, but if you’re looking for the absolute best Chinese bakery in Toronto, it’s gotta be Mashion, which opened in 2011. Is it super fancy? No. Is it fucking underrated and amazing? YES. Ding Dong is the more popular bakery on that stretch of Spadina, but Mashion is better (and just as low-priced). As with all bakeries, go in the morning for best results.
Must order: All the Chinese bakeries make so much good stuff, from basic steamed buns to coconut tarts. Mashion does really good sesame balls, though—think a doughy outer shell that has just the right balance of crispiness and softness, giving way to an airy inside with a bit of sesame paste. —Blythe Hunter, contributor
The lowdown: Sweet tooth lovers rejoice! This tiny gem of a bakery satisfies every bit of my sugar-filled cravings with their baked goods ranging from deliciously flaky danishes to incredibly smooth and creamy soft serve ice cream.
Must order: The pear tart has the perfect balance of sweetness coming from the caramelized pear and apricot glaze underneath. —Elham Numan, contributor
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Blackbird Baking Co.
The lowdown: Blackbird principal owner and chef Simon Blackwell is the fourth generation of family bakers beginning in Staffordshire, England, and his hand-crafted, slow-fermented sourdough is what bread dreams are made of. Luckily for both west-enders and east-siders, they have two main locations in Kensington Market and Riverside, and they stock retail shelves and restaurants around the city, so you can always indulge in a fresh loaf. The bakery also makes delectable sandwiches, focaccia, croissants and pastries such as chocolate “corks” and lemon tart brulees.
Must order: Blackbird’s seeded sourdough is a thing to try. The extra-crusty, dark-brown loaf is made with unbleached wheat, organic spelt and heritage Red Fife flours, with little seeds added to the mix, such as nigella, flax, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower. —Claire Sibonney, contributor
The lowdown: This sweet family-owned bakery is a perfect little neighbourhood nook with the best sourdough bread using 100% organic flour from local sustainable farmers. Loaves are their thing, but you’ll also find sweet baked treats and coffee alongside a few local goods like jam and mustard.
Must order: A loaf of bread. Simple. It’s freshly baked each morning and done really well. —Maegan Fidelino, contributor
The lowdown: Everyone and their dog has a dietary issue these days, so you really can’t do a proper roundup and *not* include a spot that is serving up 100% vegan, gluten- and nut-free baking. Especially a spot that is doing it so well. All the standard bakery fare is there, just without any animal products, etc. I’m going to say what you’re thinking: NO, these treats don’t taste like they’re missing the eggs, gluten and dairy. Three locations across the city don’t lie. In fact, I’m kind of shook by the sorcery that they’re producing.
Must order: Do yourself a favour and order the butter tart. They’re some of the best I’ve ever had yet contain no butter. MIND. BLOWN. —Amy Valm, contributor
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The lowdown: A husband-and-wife team from Osaka have brought unique French-meets-Japanese pastries to East York and it doesn’t get more classic Toronto than that, right? Ryosuke and Naomi Kita’s cozy and chic bakery and cafe is a neighbourhood gem serving up freshly made baguettes, an endless array of sweets and some solid savoury brunch options, too.
Must order: While you’ll find your go-to favourite croissants, danishes, cakes and cookies here, what makes Mon K truly stand out is the Japanese inspo in sweets such as their matcha Mont Blanc or yuzu citrus-fruit macarons. —Claire Sibonney, contributor
The lowdown: My partner and I had a sweet, long-running tradition of getting a latte and pain au chocolat every Saturday morning from our neighbourhood go-to, Portland Variety (made even sweeter by the fact that he would more often than not go get our treats while I stayed in bed nuzzling our cat’s floofy tum—pure bliss). When they closed down last summer, we were forced to venture farther afoot to the owners’ original spot on Spadina, Le Gourmand. Silver lining: LG is stocked with the same delicious croissants, but also a medley of other delightful French pastries, yummy sammies, salads and delicious brunch options, like crème brûlée French toast.
Must order: You may have heard about Le Gourmand’s famous chocolate chip cookies and, if you haven’t tried them yet, I’m here to tell you they live up to the hype. Crispy on the outside, near raw in the middle and absolutely dripping with melty chocolate, they can only be described as ridiculous. —Charlotte Herrold, editor-in-chief
The lowdown: This is the only Canadian outpost of one of Japan’s more famous cheesecake companies. LeTAO doesn’t actually make their (delicious) cheesecakes, pastries or bread in-house—everything is made in Hokkaido, flash-frozen and flown in weekly. The space is bright and airy, making it ideal to chill in. They also make killer drinks, from classics like cappuccinos to fizzy drinks flavoured with black currant, plum or pear.
Must order: If cheesecake is your thing, get the Chocolat Double cheesecake. The top layer is unbaked, giving it a perfectly light texture. If you’re not a huge cheesecake fan, try the affogato. —Blythe Hunter, contributor
Find it: Yorkdale Mall at 3401 Dufferin Street, The PATH Richmond Adelaide Centre Food Court at 121 Adelaide Street West, 1099 Yonge St, and 780 Queen Street West; @nadegetoronto; nadege-patisserie.com
The lowdown: If you can’t get to Paris to satisfy your macaron craving, get thee to Nadège. The legendarily pretty confections at this bright, contemporary bakery are arguably the best in the city.
Must order: While the macarons are the star attraction, don’t sleep on the almond croissants—with their perfectly flaky, buttery pastry and filling that’s just sweet enough, they are vraiment parfait. —Ciara Rickard, contributor