Much like Oprah, I love bread-uh. And for someone of my ilk, Bread Lounge is the destination and the journey. Bread Lounge like “the Grotto” for bread nerds.
I first noticed Bread Lounge when I started working at my current job in 2012. They opened their cafe on Santa Fe that spring, and it quickly became the go-to for all of my pre-work necessities: carbs, carbs, and more carbs. The coffee was okay—I thought it was a little pricey at the time (but at $2.95 it’s a bargain compared to everything else in the neighborhood now).
You’d think with a name like “Bread Lounge” they’d have their bread game on point. And you’d be 100% correct. In my opinion, this is Acme Bread-level goodness (in Berkeley, where my carb addiction really compounded into something ugly—of prime time A&E reality proportions). Their team of bread technicians keep the general vicinity smelling yeasty into the late hours (that’s when they get most of the baking done). You can get a loaf for an average of $4.00, and they’ll slice it for you right there. (I don’t really recommend that unless you’re going to eat it all within a few days, though.) Country loaf, Kalamata Olive, Walnut and Fig, and even a Potato Rosemary loaf? I’m carbo-hyperventilating right now just typing this.
The wide variety of pastries is enough to make Paul Hollywood blush. The Kouign-amann [pronounced queen a-mahn] is definitely the “crowning” achievement. Flaky, buttery layers with a caramelized shell. The only drawback is the sticky fingers. This is a French pastry, obviously. But you may not know that it’s called a queen-a-mahn because from the very first bite, you’re humming “We Are the Champions (my friends)/we’ll keep on chewing ’til the end.” It’s true.
Also on the pastry docket are chocolate rugelach (three for $4.00), challah buns (holla at your bunz!), strangely-shaped pistachio danishes, and absolutely perfect pain au chocolat (that’s a chocolate croissant for you newbs). The pastry case is always stocked with the goods, and the staff usually has little cubes of bread or cake to sample.
If you’re in the mood for something a little more substantial than the best pastries ever baked, then try the “Gringo.” The Gringo is an un-PC breakfast pizza with sunny-side-up eggs and cherry tomatoes. I’m telling you, this concoction gives breakfast burritos a run for their pesos. This is a satisfying way to indulge, especially for those of you (us) who routinely reach for the cold pizza in the morning (why does it always taste so good?). They keep hot sauce and sriracha on hand for these bad boys. You can’t go wrong.
For lunch, there are so many options of delicious sandwiches and pizzas (the prosciutto-and-arugula with lemon is a mind-blower, but is difficult to consume). You’re free to choose your bread for the sandos, and there’s even a little bonus that I discovered recently: for just $1.00 extra, you can sub croissant for your bread on any sandwich. That may seem a little too decadent, but I wouldn’t put it past me.
I spend every morning here, reading the paper and enjoying the relaxed atmosphere (you know, loungin’). They have a beautiful back patio, complete with fat little birds walking around looking for crumbs (but the benches outside and the chairs inside are uncomfortable—they could use an upgrade). The BL staff have always been very welcoming, even if I’m only just drinking coffee in my own little world in the back corner.
You might be thinking, “But carbs are b-b-b-bad.” Your mind is probably full of all the “This Is Your Mind On Carbs” propaganda from the ’80s. But, listen: some of us know how to maintain on carbs. They’re not so bad for you in moderation. Sure, we all have bad trips now and then—a spent sperlonga or a rye gone awry—but you shall bounce back. Don’t be afraid, little one. Come to the carb side.