12141 Westheimer Rd.
1001 Austin St.
Middle Eastern and European breads
Every few hours, the conveyor belt lurches into action to transport blimp-shaped pita breads from the upstairs oven down to the retail bakery below. As the pitas cool, they slowly deflate, so that by the time they reach the bottom, they’re ready to be put in bags—$1.50 for six warm pita rounds may be the best deal in town. Phoenicia is the United Nations of baked goods, with bread styles from more countries than any other Houston store. There’s an amazing selection from the Middle East, including za’atar bread, Iraqi bread, flat folded sheets of Lebanese “mountain bread,” and Greek sesame rings. French master baker Fabrice Maraine (pictured left) oversees the baking of Phoenicia’s European breads and pastries; the baguettes are excellent, and so are the sourdough rolls. And his almond croissants, stuffed with almond paste and topped with powdered sugar, are the best in town.
3100 Chimney Rock Rd.
Crusty breads, croissants
Chinese brothers Louis and Robert Wu grew up in Madagascar when the African island was a French colony; both grew up speaking French and working in French-style kitchens from an early age. Louis went on to study cooking in Paris, working as a baker there for many years before the brothers came to Houston. The baguettes the Wu brothers sell at the French Riviera bakery on Chimney Rock are as evocative of France as the bakery itself. You can also purchase fresh-baked loaves of focaccia, rustic boules, and bags of buttery croissants (after grabbing a cup of café, of course).
611 W. 22nd St.
If you’ve dined out in Houston, there’s a good chance you’ve eaten Kraftsmen bread—Scott Tycer’s bakery supplies many of the city’s best restaurants. You can supply your own table, too, at the bakery’s storefront in the Heights. Kraftsmen bakes nearly everything imaginable, from pain de mie to marble rye, baguettes to Irish soda bread. You can even get breakfast-pastry and bread plates, complete with butter and jam, to feed a hungry horde.
Slow Dough Bread Co.
8728 Westpark Dr.
Heath Wendell comes by his craft honestly: the fifth-generation baker is from a family of them stretching back through Chicago, New York City, and Germany. Although most of Slow Dough’s ciabatta, sourdough, and pretzel bread is sold wholesale to Houston restaurants at the Westpark Dr. address, you can pick up a few loaves at places like Revival Market and Georgia’s.
2517 Airline Dr.
Mexican breads, pastries, tortillas
Widely considered the go-to Mexican bakery, El Bolillo’s original location on Airline forms part of the “food lover’s corridor,” along with Canino produce market (see p. 42), Flores spice market (see p. 56), and the Houston Dairymaids’ cheese shop (see p. 52). Pick up fresh-baked bolillos and telera bread as well as flour tortillas here, and don’t forget the Mexican pastries, such as hojarascas, churros, and conchas, on offer for pennies on the dollar.
La Guadalupana Bakery & Cafe
2109 Dunlavy St.
Trancito Diaz may originally be from Mexico, but the affable owner of La Guadalupana received his pastry training at French Gourmet Bakery and the River Oaks Country Club—hence his flaky almond croissants and other French creations, which occupy pride of place in his pastry case alongside traditional Mexican favorites such as marranitos. His tres leches cake is the stuff of legend, as is the cinnamon-laced coffee his Montrose bakery sells by the pound.
4036 S. Braeswood Blvd.
Rye breads, challah, poppy seed strudel
Four years to the day after being liberated from a Nazi internment camp in 1945, Polish immigrant Sigmund Jucker opened Three Brothers Bakery in Houston with siblings Sol and Max. Today Sigmund’s son, Robert, runs the Braeswood bakery (as well as two new cafe-style locations), and it’s still the best place in town to find home-style loaves of braided challah, rye bread, and bialys by the dozen.
5700 Hillcroft St.
Indian fusion baked goods
Now celebrating a dozen years in business, this Little India institution specializes in egg-free Indian breads and pastries. Pick up a loaf of masala bread or a few rounds of fresh naan and indulge in a few treats while you’re here—we like the cumin-flavored jeera shortbread cookies and the chicken tikka-stuffed croissants for a quick snack.
New York Bagels
9724 Hillcroft St.
Bagels and bialys
Meyerland’s New York Bagels is the most reliable spot in Houston for bagels—and the only place to get them hot out of the oven. You can sit down and enjoy an everything bagel with a schmear in the adjoining coffee shop, or ask the bakers to fill up a sack of whatever’s just been freshly boiled and baked.