The Best Bakeries in Houston for Freshly Baked Bread
The array of bakeries in Houston is as diverse as its citizenry. We are fortunate to have numerous establishments making just about every kind of bread imaginable. From longtime mainstays to the newly opened, here are some of the city’s best independent shops to find freshly baked bread to take home. For this list, stuffed options and pastries were not considered, just simple, comforting bread. However, we do share some of the other items that can be found when you visit each of these favorites.
Alvand Bakery, 13318 Westheimer: This shop specializes in Afghan and Arabic breads, its hallmark being its all-natural Barbari naan, also known as Afghan naan or Iranian or Persian flatbread. This is the national bread of Afghanistan and served at almost every meal. It has ridged lines running across it, making it easy to tear apart for picking up food and soaking up sauces. The naan are large, over two feet long, and sold in bags of two. Alvand Bakery is open every day from 8 a.m to 8 p.m., except on Thursday.
Angela’s Oven, 204 Aurora (enter on Harvard): This family-owned and operated bakery is a regular presence at local farmers markets, but the full selection of breads is found at the Heights bricks-and-mortar location: the Red Barn Bakery and Café. It’s open Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m, and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. For 16 years, Jerry and Angela Shawn have created bread and pastries without the use of preservatives or dough conditioners, using only unbleached, unbromated, non-GMO bread flours. Their sourdough, brioche and ciabatta can be found everyday, while the Cranberry Walnut, Rosemary Garlic and Seeded Wheat are only baked on Saturdays. Guests can also find pastries, breakfast options and sandwiches, which can be enjoyed in the outdoor dining area.
Artisana Bread, 965 Pinemont: The most popular breads at this bakery are the organic sourdoughs, several of which incorporate ancient varieties of wheat, such as einkorn, spelt and kamut, making them easier for people with gluten sensitivities to digest. In addition, customers can usually also find pain de mie loaves made with 100% whole wheat and local honey, Scottish oatmeal bread, soft-baked demi baguettes, and flax, multigrain breads. On Fridays and Saturdays, focaccia is added to the array, which are all baked fresh daily. The very best selection is available on Fridays and Saturdays between 9 and 10 a.m. For holidays, look for stollen (a German Christmas bread), panettone, sweet potato rolls and king cakes for Mardi Gras. The bakery is open Wednesday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to noon. Artisana baked goods are also sold at the Urban Harvest Farmers Market on Saturdays from 8 a.m to noon.
Asturias Bakery, 3856 South Dairy Ashford: This small bakery and café focuses on Argentine specialty breads such as pan cremona, librito salado, torta respada, torta de hoja and pan con grasa. The pan cremona, which hails from the city of Córdoba, is puff pastry in the shape of a crown that can add panache to any party spread and hold a small dish of dip in the center. The torta de hoja has a firm exterior with a fluffy, layered interior, while the torta respada is a denser flat roll from Mendoza. The librito salado is a layered, slightly salty roll that easily pulls apart and the pan con grasa is a small Uruguayan puff-pastry roll traditionally served with dinner.
El Bolillo Bakery, three locations: Since 1998, this Mexican bakery, which started in The Heights, has baked bolillos, the staple for which the bakery is named. You can also find cases packed with a huge array of pan dulce, as well as El Bolillo’s famous tres leches. The bakery gained national attention during Hurricane Harvey when flood-stranded employees baked for two days, providing thousands of loaves to shelters and first responders upon rescue. Guests to the bustling bakeries will find a steady flow of freshly baked bolillo rolls still warm from the oven in addition to the pre-bagged offerings.
Bread Man Baking Co., sold at multiple locations: This commercial, artisan bakery provides baked goods to some of Houston’s top restaurants and can also be found at Urban Harvest Farmers Market, and at all of Houston-area Whole Foods stores. Whole Foods currently carries the largest selection. These country-style breads are inspired by recipes that owner Tasos Katsaounis learned from his family. A good array, including country sourdough, whole grain sourdough, marble rye, Cranberry Walnut, pain de mie and baguettes, can now be found Tuesday through Sunday at the newly opened White Elm Bakery.
Common Bond, multiple locations: For six years, this local bakery chain, open daily, has served up freshly baked goods to Houstonians. Expect to find loaves of classic white, country sourdough, sprouted sourdough, multigrain and Sunflower Rye, as well as baguettes. Also, challah rolls and loaves are available on weekends only. The restaurant-side of this establishment serves everything from breakfast to dinner, with coffee, tea, wine and beer to complement the entrées. The sandwich menu gives diners a chance to try some of the bread all dressed up.
Dutch Fika’s Little Kitchen, 1034 Heights: This artisan cottage bakery is a reflection of owner Marguerite Mensonides’s Dutch and Swedish heritage. After moving to the United States from Europe, she found many breads did not agree with her and that she was missing the wholesome styles from home. She decided to start baking her own and word quickly spread to her friends and neighbors. Her handmade loaves are created from selected organic heirloom rye and wheat varieties that are stone-milled either in-house or at Barton Springs Mill. The flour is then added to a signature rye levain, a starter mixture of rye flour and water, before proofing, shaping and baking in blue steel pans.
She has since moved from her home kitchen to a 1920s cottage next door to EQ Heights. Fridays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., patrons can enter through the back door and purchase a selection of breads and heritage pastries. In addition, Dutch Fika’s also sells Barton Springs Mill stone-ground flour and raw, unfiltered honey from the Pam Nawara Farm in Rosenburg. For the best selection, order online in advance. Top picks are the Ragbrod (a seeded pumpernickel), the Dutch Knip whole wheat, and a German-style sourdough with cranberries, golden berries (Cape gooseberries) and blueberries.
French Gourmet Bakery, 2250 Westheimer: Since 1973, fifth-generation baker Patrice Ramain has been serving Houston both French- and American-style baked goods. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., visitors will find country French, Tuscan wheat, baguettes and dinner rolls baked from scratch daily using only a few high-quality ingredients. Arrive at 8 a.m. for the best selection, or call ahead to request items to be set aside for you. You can also place an order the day before pickup to ensure you can enjoy your favorite baked goods. For the holidays, French Gourmet Bakery adds specialty breads to the line up. These may include brioche, Apple Cinnamon Bread, Banana Bread, Cranberry Bread and Pumpkin Bread. While you are there, you can also find build-your-own sandwich options, kolaches, tarts, cookies, pies and French pastries such as éclairs.
French Riviera Bakery, 3100 Chimney Rock: This forty-year-old bakery is best known for its French baguette and croissants. Founded in 1977, all the breads are baked fresh daily, with the exception of Sunday when the bakery is closed. The best selection is usually available from 8 to 11 a.m., before the café gets busy for lunch. Originally just a boulangerie (a bakery that only makes breads), French Riviera has evolved over the years and now also offers breakfast and lunch items such as ham and cheese croissants and quiches, along with a full menu of classic French sweets like éclairs, Napoleons and macarons.
Jolly Jolly Bakery, 6275 South Texas 6: Ten years ago, owners James and Jolly Onobun opened their Houston bakery to share James’ longtime passion for fresh baked bread and Jolly’s joy for interacting with the community. The Onobuns are originally from Nigeria but have been in Houston since 1981. James is recently retired from Central Market, so he has lots of expertise in providing high-quality products on a large scale. Visitors who enter the unassuming storefront will find white, wheat, cinnamon-raisin, coconut and sugar-free breads, along with dinner rolls baked fresh Monday through Saturday. Customers can also find a selection of kolaches, cookies, muffins and pound cakes. The couple are growing the business and have recently opened in Pearland. Another shop is opening in Dallas next month. Jolly Jolly Bakery also has unique offerings, such as savory meat pies, chicken pies, sausage rolls and Scotch eggs. It was featured earlier this year on the Houston episode of PBS’s No Passport Required.
Kamalan Bakery, 9889 Bellaire: This Taiwanese bakery has a wide variety of housemade breads. In addition to traditional offerings such as green onion bread, and filled options that include cheese and bacon buns and Danish Chicken bread, guests will also find a variety of loaves, rolls and croissants, along with an assortment of sliced breads that are referred to as toasts. With a lineup that ranges from whole wheat cranberry bread to a basic sliced white bread called Family Toast, visitors will find many pleasing items. Kamalan Bakery is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Mademoiselle Louise, 1725 Main: For fifteen years, chef Frederick Fortin and wife Sivkheng regularly visited friends and family in Houston. Those visits inspired them to move to Houston and set up shop downtown. Their establishment is named for Frederick’s grandmother, Louise, who introduced him to the art of patisserie. The shop’s visitors will find decorated cakes, cupcakes, breakfast pastries, savory quiches and more, along with several selections of freshly baked bread including traditional French baguette, pain de mie, focaccia and ciabatta.
Magnol French Baking, 1500 North Post Oak: Salvadoran-born pastry chef Otto Sanchez and French-born chef baker Matthieu Cabon, whose friendship grew through baking and travel, collaborated to launch this artisanal bakery. Sanchez spent many years in Houston before perfecting his skills at various high-level culinary positions around the world, while dreaming of returning to his adopted hometown to start his own business. Together with business partner Kristen White, the two chefs use their unique experiences as inspiration for their organic, handcrafted breads and other decadent specialties.
Magnol French Baking has a small shop for retail customers that’s attached to a large bakery, which provides goods to an impressive list of Houston hotels and restaurants. Customers can watch the nonstop bakery action through large picture windows while browsing bread options that include crusty baguettes, campagne batards and boule, ciabatta squares and brioche buns. There are also flaky croissants, fruit tarts and Cannelé de Bordeaux. Customers can find a small assortment of items when the shop opens at 8 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday, but should pre-order online for the best selection.
Rustika Café and Bakery, multiple locations: This family-owned and operated business has served Houston for over twenty-five years. Breads are baked daily and guests can count on finding two specialities: honey wheat bread and challah. The honey wheat is made with real honey, which makes the bread moist with a hint of sweetness. The café uses it for the toast that is served with a variety of breakfast dishes and for sandwiches. The challah is similar to brioche; light, fluffy and made with freshly squeezed orange juice. In addition to loaves of bread, Rustika also makes croissants and a variety of breakfast pastries, using only the highest quality ingredients and no preservatives, shortening nor dough conditioners. To ensure getting the freshest items available, pre-order online and choose the date, time and location for your pickup. If you don’t plan in advance, mid-morning is the best time to stop by but, be aware that the loaves do go quickly. Rustika also partners with Kids Meals Houston to help end childhood hunger, donating a portion of online sales to provide food directly to needy families in the Houston area.
Three Brothers Bakery, multiple locations: On May 8, 1949, Sigmund Jucker, his twin brother, Sol, and younger brother Max opened the first Three Brothers Bakery in Houston. The brothers, who survived the Holocaust, hail from a long line of professional bakers that date back to 1825 in Chrzanów, Poland. Their original Eastern European recipes for rye bread, challah, danish, cheese pockets, Kaiser rolls, bialy, traditional bagels and onion boards are still used today.
In the new millennium, fifth-generation baker Bobby, Sigmund’s eldest son, and his wife, Janice, took over managing Three Brothers. Open daily, customers can discover freshly baked challah, seeded rye, plain rye, Corn Rye, baguettes, French bread and bagels. On Fridays, there is also raisin challah. On weekends, the selection expands to also include rolls such as challah, French and onion, plus onion pockets and boards (a flatbread laced with sliced onion). The largest selection is early in the morning (opening times vary depending on location and day of the week), with Fridays featuring the biggest spread. As Three Brothers bakes fresh daily, whatever is left is donated to the homeless and others in need. The bakeries also sell cakes, cookies and a wide assortment of European pastries.
Tres Amigos Bakery, 10064 Long Point: This fast-growing, family-owned panaderia specializes in Mexican pastries and breads. Traditional bolillo bread is baked every 20-30 minutes daily. (Bolilo is similar to a baguette, but softer, shorter and often used for sandwiches or tortas, and as dinner rolls.) Other top sellers are several varieties of pan dulce, or Mexican sweet breads, including conchas, cuernos and mantecadas. Tres Amigos is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Weights + Measures Bake Shop, 2808 Caroline: In addition to crafting all of the breads, buns, and pizza dough that the attached restaurant uses, the bakeshop also sells directly to the public. In a separate stand across from the restaurant entrance, hungry consumers can find loaves of baguettes, sourdough, rye, pumpernickel, brioche, Cranberry Walnut and ciabatta, which are baked daily Wednesday through Sunday. The shop also makes specialty breads for the holidays, including challah for Jewish holidays, rolls for Thanksgiving and Christmas and unique breads for Easter.
Despite exhaustive research to locate gluten-free bakeries in town, this seems to be one area in which Houston is lacking. For those needing these specialty breads, check out start-up, gluten free home baker, Leven Baking Company, which operates under the Texas Cottage Food Law. It sells at Urban Harvest Farmers Market, but pre-ordering is recommended.
On the west side, Boule Vert delivers 100% gluten-free artisan bread, focaccia, tarts and galettes. Send a direct message to its Facebook or Instagram accounts to receive the seasonal menu and delivery fees.