Wednesday, April 11, 2007

in search of bread

Hey San Diegans.

I'm on a quest. I've eaten a bunch of delicious food from exotic ethnicities here. Despite my being a strict vegetarian, I feel like I've gotten a lot out of the cuisine of San Diego. However, meat-eaters and carnivores both have a deep and profound love for one of food's most basic elements: bread.

I've eaten some yummy sandwiches (Capriotti's) here in San Diego and I've had some great donuts and bagels (Sunny Donuts and Big City Bagels) but I have yet to find a really great, affordable, non-chain bakery that produces loaves of bread. There's a couple decent chains: Panera and St. Tropez, and okay, St. Tropez is barely a chain since there's only 4 locations and they're all in San Diego...but I find them to be a bit too frou-frou, personally.

Even the big stores (Henry's, Whole Foods, Vons, etc.) have some decent breads, but they're just not what I'm looking for.

What I really want is a place buried somewhere that is family owned (ideally) that makes great, simple bread. Doesn't have to be "artisan" per se, but should be substantial and have a good value. They need to have a bread that's great for a sub sandwich (as I have my frozen mock smoked turkey now and I need something to put it on that will do it justice) and they need to have a decent focaccia or similar bread that I can toast with some cheese on it.

So let me know what bakeries you've tried and what your experience has been. Here's a list of ones that I'll be looking into (some of them seem to be catering or supply for larger markets only):

Arely's French Bakery
City Bakery
Rita's Bakery (possibly mexican bakery)
New York Bakery (seems like a supplier)
Paris Bakery
Timby's Bakery
Deniss Bakery
Camau Bakery Deli
National Bakery
Bread & Cie (a little too well known already and too busy for me)
Cafe in the Park
A La Francaise
Baked by Etta
Bread on Market
Sadie Rose Baking Company
Solunto Baking Company (supplier, I think)
Bakery & Cafe - Big Joy Family, Incorporated

There's a place up in Del Mar next to a Jimbo's (name escapes me at the moment) that is great but a pit pricey and too far up the 5. I'd like to find something more central to San Diego.

So far, just by looking at websites, I think the Big Joy Family has a very good chance of being what I'm looking for. It's up in Kearny Mesa (Convoy) which is nice and off the beaten path of where one would expect to find a fantastic little bakery.

I'll be reporting back in a couple weeks with the results of my survey of local bakeries to let you know what I find. Send me your suggestions!