8 of My Favorite Neighborhood Treats in San Francisco

SF is home to an ever-rotating number of bakeries, donut shops, and street-side cafes — but the best treats are always in my orbit.

I am a creature of habit. I find comfort in routine and the predictability of my daily tasks. For instance, I wake up at about the same time every day and make a pot of Esperanca, Brasil Ritual Coffee, which tastes like orange marmalade, milk chocolate, and toasted pecans. I then return to bed to watch the gayest news program currently on television — ABC7 Mornings with Reggie Aqui, Jobina Fortson, Drew Tuma, and last but not for a second least, Kumasi Aaron. Watching the news with them is like catching up with old friends with many important issues to discuss.

It’s the same with Jackson and Macho; keeping the boys on a schedule is incredibly important for their overall well-being. Just like humans, dogs thrive on routine and predictability. They sleep in while I catch up on the emails I’ve opened, closed, and marked unread for the umpteenth time. And are so excited when I open the drapes to let the sunshine in while telling them good morning and smothering them with kisses. When they are enjoying breakfast, I plan the route for their walk, which hopefully includes a chance for me to squeeze in a few errands. 

Over the last ten years, five pastry and coffee shops have opened within a ten-block radius of my apartment. I’ve welcomed them all to my neighborhood and look forward to the delicacies that will end up being something extra to start or end my day.

All the shops have something I love. And I enjoy figuring out exactly what I’m craving as my daily treat.

These are eight of my favorite treats — five sweet, three savory — in San Francisco.

Le Marais Bakery – Chocolate Almond Croissant

Le Marais Bakery, Chocolate Almond Croissant

This locally owned french inspired bakery has three locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Their chocolate almond croissant is the shop’s star for me and has not only made my list, but it has also made it to Oprah’s “O List.” I always add a chocolate chip cookie at the end of my order as though it was just an idea (which barely has any dough holding it together).

Lotta’s Bakery – Pecan Pie

Located in the heart of Polk Gulch and named after owner and baker Earl Darny’s drag alter-ego “Lotta,” this place is part pastry shop and part antique store. At Thanksgiving, be sure to place an order for the pecan pie or grab a handful of the bite-sized ones daily. 

Maison Danel  – Chocolate Hazelnut Croissant

I love chocolate and nuts; these two marry perfectly in this buttery, flaky Croissant. This Parisian dream of a shop was inspired by husband and husband Danel and David de Betelu and their love of European cafes. The menu includes a fabulous afternoon tea perfect for that intimate chat with an old friend.

Batter Bakery, Hazelnut Chocolate Cookies

Bob’s Donuts – Apple Fritter

Established in the 1960s, prepare to stand in line and drool through the window as you wait to get your favorite donut. Be sure to get one of the heavy-duty, apple-filled, frosted-coated hunk — Bob’s Donuts Apple Fritter. It satisfies on many levels. Oh, and remember to get a bag of donut holes.

Hot Cookie – Almond Joygasm

The Polk Street location of this Castro District staple is a welcome addition to the neighborhood’s historical importance, which once boasted queer businesses from one end to the other. Though the penis and vagina treats make a great social media post, I love the Coconut Almond Milk Chocolate Chip Cookie, also known as the Almond Joygasm. It’s the perfect thing to eat while walking the mutts.

The French Spot – Tomato, Spinach & Cheese Quiche

The French Spot, Tomato, Spinach & Cheese, and Ham & Cheese Quiche

This husband-wife-owned and-run pastry shop is a regular stop as I cannot resist the Tomato, Spinach & Cheese Quiche – I love it when Chef sees me walk in and returns with a warm quiche right out of the oven. Their menu includes French-American-Asian-inspired breakfast pastries (traditional and creative croissants), pastries, desserts, and custom artistic cakes. There is something here for everyone.

Juniper – Cubano Croissant 

Juniper is the offspring of Saint Frank Coffee, located on the other end of Polk Street. The cafe bakes bread daily, not for sale but used in their many delicious sandwiches. Unfortunately, they discontinued the delightful and popular Cubano Croissant, filled with mojo pork, ham, whole grain mustard, and pickle. But they promised me something yummy and new is taking its place.

Jane on Larkin – Olive Polenta Bread

Jane on Larkin, Olive Polenta Bread

This bakery has a wonderfully satisfying breakfast and lunch menu. The Egg White Sandwich has been my go-to since they opened this location on Larkin Street (located directly across from Dark Entries Records and Moth Belly Gallery). But, for me, the baked in-house daily selection of bread is the true winner here. My dinner table is always complete when I have a baguette or Olive Polenta bread–loaded with Castelvetrano olives.


Feature Image: Anthony Russel, Mom & Boys, 2023

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