San Francisco is in the midst of a bakery renaissance, with several new shops opening up to large crowds and long lines. Just drop by Mr. Holmes Bakehouse on any given day around 9 a.m. and you’ll know what I mean.
And across town in the emerging Dogpatch neighborhood south of the AT&T ballpark, another relative newcomer is drawing crowds and also running out of goods early on as hungry patrons leave with large pink boxes filled with croissants, coffee cakes, and more.
I’m talking about Neighbor Bakehouse, which was opened earlier this year by Greg Mindel, a former pastry instructor at the San Francisco Baking Institute who also baked his way through the kitchens of Spruce and the Ritz-Carlton.
Mindel started Neighbor three years ago, focused primarily on supplying cafes and restaurants. But now he has a tiny storefront that spills onto tables set up along Third Street. The early buzz has focused on Mindel’s croissants, from the chocolate-filled delights to the “everything” croissant that’s like an everything bagel but flakey and light.
I checked out Neighbor last weekend with my friend Craig. Knowing the rush, we made sure to get there before 10 a.m.
The selection can seem overwhelming with all the unusual and interesting pastries. I was tempted to walk away with a pink box myself, but ended up ordering the popular ginger sugar pull-apart ($3.50) and coffee spice cake ($3.50) while Craig tried the hazelnut brown butter cake ($3).
The ginger sugar pull-apart is like a mini monkey bread, with croissant-like cubes that have the slightest ginger flavor. I was ready to find myself disappointed by a much-hyped product, but the pull-apart was a revelation — a light, airy croissant bread whose shell had been browned for color and a crispy edge, just like eating toast. I didn’t think I could eat the whole thing but I did!
The coffee spice cake was just as satisfying, with the cake having a strong nut flavor from the pecans that were nicely toasted and then generously sprinkled on top. Craig’s brown butter cake was a bit more average, but still a nice treat with the dusting of powdered sugar.
Neighbor Bakehouse, which also serves savory pastries like the the ham-and-cheese breakfast croissant and De la Paz coffee, does indeed live up to the hype. So like other new bakeries, the advice is to go early and go soon.
The deets: Neighbor Bakehouse, 2343 Third St., San Francisco. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 6:30 a.m. to noon. www.neighborsf.com
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