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I checked out San Diego County’s 12 newest bakeries. Here are my favorite bites from each one

Nearly two years into the pandemic, we can all be forgiven for the desire to drown our sorrows in the delights of cookies, croissants, cakes and pastries. Helping to fulfill those cravings are a dozen new bake shops that have opened since January 2020. Here’s an inside look at these new shops, the stories behind them and our picks on what treats to indulge in once you arrive.

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A dark chocolate scone at Con Pane Rustic Breads & Café

A dark chocolate and walnut scone at Con Pane Rustic Breads & Café, which reopened at Liberty Station in December 2020 under new ownership.

(Cohn Restaurant Group)

Con Pane Rustic Breads & Café, Liberty Station

In December 2020, the Cohn Restaurant Group reopened the beloved Liberty Station bakery-café that abruptly shuttered two years ago following an immigration audit. All of the shop’s much-loved recipes transferred with the sale, including the secrets of its famous pane cioccolata (chocolate bread), Point Loma sourdough and brioche cinnamon rolls. Bakery manager Danja Barajas says business during the pandemic has been so great, she keeps the kitchen’s 14-foot-deep stone oven busy nearly 24 hours a day.

What to order: I love buying their bags of six mini-scones, with three different varieties daily (dark chocolate orange is my favorite). Con Pane’s signature pastry is the decadent brioche aux amandes, a slice of brioche bread soaked in orange water, topped with almonds and then baked again. And if you’re looking for a great sandwich, don’t miss the Almost Grilled Cheese, with brie and gorgonzola cheeses on toasted rosemary olive oil or multigrain bread. 2750 Dewey Road, San Diego. (619) 224-4344. cohnrestaurants.com/conpane

A horchata doughnut at Donutgram in Escondido.

A horchata doughnut at Donutgram in Escondido.

(Pam Kragen/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Donutgram: Escondido

After a combined 50 years of working for doughnut chains, the Guevera family of Escondido opened their own shop in April 2020. Francisco Guevera is head baker, his sister Mitzi Guevara manages sales; and their mom, Virginia Guevara, who does all the doughnut decoration. The shop has become known for its gargantuan family-size doughnut (nearly the size of a personal pizza), its creative toppings and frostings like breakfast cereal and candy bars, and flavors inspired by the Guevaras’ Mexican heritage. They also bake their own croissants and serve sandwiches and smoothies.

What to order: The two best-sellers are the horchata raised doughnut with a cinnamon vanilla glaze and the Nutella-filled doughnut. On weekends, the popular red velvet and other specialty varieties are available. 131 E. Washington Ave., Suite A, Escondido. (760) 975-2329. instagram.com/donutgramco/

The Gluten-Free Baking Co. in North Park.

Roanna Canete at her Gluten Free Baking Co. in North Park.

(Lindsay Kreighbaum)

The Gluten-Free Baking Co.: North Park

Roanna Canete was a leadership consultant when her son was diagnosed as gluten-intolerant. In the process of learning to cook for him, she found her new vocation in gluten-free baking. After running a wholesale production bakery in Coronado for several years, she opened her own shop in North Park with her in-house cake designer Lisa Altfest in February 2020. It was a rocky start for the small shop, but GFBC has found a loyal customer base who appreciate her breads, bagels, cookies, doughnuts, cupcakes and custom cakes.

What to order: Selections change daily, but I recommend the coffee cake, tart Key lime bars and fluffy cupcakes. 4594 30th St., San Diego. thegfbankingco.com.

Tahitian vanilla knot pastries at Izola Artisan Bakery in San Diego's East Village.

Tahitian vanilla knot pastries at Izola Artisan Bakery in San Diego’s East Village.

(Jeffrey Lamont Brown)

Izola Artisan Bakery: East Village

When his commercial photography business tanked in March 2020, Jeffrey Lamont Brown and his partner, Jenny Chen, turned their third-floor loft-studio in East Village into an artisan bakery, turning out sourdough loaves and croissants. During the early months of lockdown, the treats were lowered down to customers via a rope-drawn basket. Now the portrait studio has been converted into a café, offering occasional live music on weekends. Izola bakes in small batches all day, so there’s always something warm coming out of the oven.

What to order: The Izola Wild sourdough leavened with wild yeast, the twice-baked almond croissants served hot, the traditional butter croissants and the chocolate croissants, which contain a generous four sticks of French Valrhona chocolate. 710 13th St., Suite 300, San Diego. (619) 289-8358. izolabakery.com

A selection of baked goods from Hommage Bakehouse.

A selection of baked goods from Hommage Bakehouse.

(Brendan Cleak)

Hommage Bakehouse: Pacific Beach

When La Jolla’s La Clochette du Coin Café opened its second location in Pacific Beach in fall 2020, it brought in locally born Hommage Bakehouse as its in-house baker for La Clochette’s in-house and wholesale laminated pastries. Run by baker Justin Gaspar (a winning competitor on Hulu’s “Baker’s Dozen” series), Hommage makes sourdough, baguette and focaccia breads, croissants, kouign-amann (sweet Breton cake), cookies and scones for both in-house and wholesale customers countywide.

What to order: Gaspar’s featherlight croissants are among the best in town, but his Philippines-inspired custard buns featuring ube and kalamansi flavors are his personal passion. 4680 Cass St., San Diego. (858) 412-5558. hommagebakehouse.com

A Nutellla-filled croissant from L'atelier de Paris, a French cafe and pastry shop, with locations in Carlsbad and Encinitas.

A Nutellla-filled croissant from L’atelier de Paris, a French cafe and pastry shop, with locations in Carlsbad and Encinitas.

(Pam Kragen/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

L’atelier de Paris: Encinitas and Carlsbad

Belgian-born chefs David Laurent and Guillaume Vande Capelle opened their first French patisserie and café in summer 2020 in the former 2Good2B bakery space in Encinitas. They added a second location this past June in the shuttered St. Tropez Bakery space in Carlsbad. The full-service restaurants serve three meals a day, beers and wines, but I’m all about the desserts.

What to order: The oversize Nutella-filled croissant is heaven. Also worth the calories are the cream-filled, almond-topped Jésuite pastry and the macaron and palmier cookies. 204 N. El Camino Real, Encinitas. 7150 Avenida Encinas, Suite 100, Carlsbad. (760) 452-6500. latelierdeparis.com

Matteo bakery in South Park sells Italian desserts, coffee, pizzas and more.

Matteo bakery in South Park sells Italian desserts, coffee, pizzas and more.

(Pam Kragen/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Matteo: South Park

The passion project of Buona Forchetta restaurateur Matteo Cattaneo, this nonprofit bakery took over the former Rebecca’s Coffee House space in South Park, opening for business just a few days before the pandemic hit in March 2020. All profits go to local charitable causes, with the beneficiary changing quarterly. Besides offering breakfast, pizzas, prepared sauces and pastas, Matteo is an Italian bakery making rustic breads, muffins, cookies, croissants and chilled pastries daily.

What to order: Croissants filled with imported pistachio nut cream or Nutella, vegan citrus olive oil cake, bomboloni (cream-filled Italian doughnuts) and cardamom coffee cake muffins. 3015 Juniper St., San Diego. (619) 432-1879. instagram.com/matteoforacause

A layer cake being made in the kitchen at newly opened Mmm… Cakes in Chula Vista on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021.

A layer cake being made in the kitchen at newly opened Mmm… Cakes in Chula Vista on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021.

(Kristian Carreon/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Mmm … Cakes: Chula Vista

After eight years of running a cake studio from his Chula Vista home, longtime local pastry chef Jose Barajas opened this downtown bakery and café in October with his brother Miguel Barajas and sister-in-law Stevie Bowlin. Barajas made a name for himself as a perennial competitor on numerous TV cooking series, including “Next Great Baker, “Cake Wars” and “Holiday Gingerbread Showdown.” The shop, which has a vintage TV “Golden Girls” theme, sells cakes by the slice and whole cakes, as well as custom-order cakes, sweet and savory Danishes, oversize cookies, scones, muffins and cinnamon rolls.

What to order: The baked cheese Danish, pecan cinnamon roll or a slice from any one of the five- to six-layer frosted cakes in the pastry case. 310 Third Ave., Suite C4, Chula Vista. (619) 500-5162. mmmcakessd.com

A variety of fruit-topped desserts at Parisien Gourmandises in La Jolla.

A variety of fruit-topped desserts at Parisien Gourmandises in La Jolla.

(Parisien Gourmandises)

Parisien Gourmandises: La Jolla

Opened last summer by baker Annie Benaroch, this new bakery hidden inside the Floral Palette home shop in downtown La Jolla, offers exquisite Parisian-style pastries made with Kosher standards with a modern West Coast twist. The store’s specialties are macaron cookies, but it also serves six varieties of croissants, Danishes, cannelé and Madeleine pastries, baguettes, olive, ciabatta and, on Fridays challah bread. There are also visually stunning tarts, cheesecakes and grand pastries.

What to order: Almond croissants, pain au chocolate, passion fruit macarons and fig and berry tarts. 7643 Girard Ave., La Jolla. (858) 352-6552. parisiengourmandises.com

An apple cheddar scone at Prager Bros. Artisan Bread shop in Encinitas.

An apple cheddar scone at Prager Bros. Artisan Bread shop in Encinitas.

(Pam Kragen/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Prager Bros. Artisan Breads: Encinitas and Hillcrest

After seven years baking and selling their wholesale breads out of an industrial park kitchen in Carlsbad, siblings Louie and Clinton Prager opened their first stand-alone Prager Bros. retail shops during the pandemic. The first opened in Encinitas in April 2020 and a second debuted last May in Hillcrest. The Pragers are known for their Old World-style, hand-formed, naturally leavened, organic sourdough and yeasted breads made from house-ground whole grains. The retail shops carry a wide selection of fresh-baked breads as well as pastries.

What to order: The country loaf (their version of traditional sourdough), apple cheddar scones, chocolate croissants and the addictive sablé shortbread cookies. 534 S. Coast Highway, Encinitas. 1252 University Ave., San Diego. (760) 704-8442. pragerbrothers.com

The avocado oil coffee cake from Secret Sister bakery in South Park.

The avocado oil coffee cake from Secret Sister bakery in South Park.

(Pam Kragen/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Secret Sister: South Park

The Rose Wine Bar in South Park opened up this sweet side business in a former storage room last summer. It’s open limited hours Wednesdays through Sundays only. The limited menu features house-baked country loaf, baguettes, sourdough scones, seasonal pies, cookies, cakes and sourdough sticky buns that come out of the oven throughout the morning hours.

What to order: The buttery avocado oil coffee cake, the savory cheddar and chive gougère and the traditional French baguettes (baked fresh each morning at 9:30 a.m.) 2215 30th St., San Diego. (619) 281-0718. secretsistersouthpark.com

Solomon Bagels and Donuts owner Jeffrey Wang, right, and baker Jacob Lynch with a tray of bagels.

Solomon Bagels and Donuts owner Jeffrey Wang, right, and apprentice baker Jacob Lynch with a tray of their the shop’s top-selling Everything bagel.

(Pam Kragen / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Solomon Bagels and Donuts: North Park

Serial bagel shop entrepreneur Jeffrey Wang got bored with retirement and hopped back into the business in April 2020. Despite the lockdown, locals had watched the construction with great anticipation and the store got off to a successful start. The business bakes its own authentic New York-style bagels in many hard-to-find varieties (including bialy, pumpernickel and sundried tomato) along with made-from-scratch doughnuts, sandwiches, salads and desserts.

What to order: An everything bagel with house lox spread or the supersize apple fritter doughnuts. 4152 30th St., San Diego. (619) 326-8248. solomonbagels.com

The cinnamon swirl biscuit at Sunnyboy Biscuit Co. in Hillcrest.

The cinnamon swirl biscuit at Sunnyboy Biscuit Co. in Hillcrest.

(Pam Kragen/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Sunnyboy Biscuit Co.: Hillcrest

Chef Gabriel Ferguson dreamed for 10 years about opening a comfort eatery in San Diego, but the unfortunate opening day he picked was March 17, 2020, the day after the county shut down all all restaurant dining rooms due to COVID. Nonetheless, the down-home Southern cooking outlet has thrived. Ferguson’s specialty is house-baked buttermilk biscuit sandwiches, as well as an ever-changing mix of cobblers, pies, cakes, cookies and puddings.

What to order: The top-selling cinnamon swirl biscuit is like a cinnamon roll with the sturdiness and buttery goodness of a biscuit dough. 3749 Park Blvd., San Diego. (619) 915-5915. sunnyboybiscuitco.com

COMING SOON

Furn Saj Bakery & Restaurant: Hillcrest

Founded in Los Angeles in 2013, this authentic Lebanese restaurant-bakery will open its first San Diego County location early this year in a strip mall on Fourth Avenue. The restaurant serves Middle Eastern dishes such as falafel, shawarma and flatbreads, oven-baked mana’ish and saja breads. Its bakery options include mahalabia pudding, labneh with honey, rice pudding, tahini bread and crème caramel.

What to order: The Nutella pizza with banana slices or the house-baked, pistachio-topped baklava. 3888 Fourth Ave., San Diego. furnsaj.com

An artist's rendering of Patisserie Melanie, opening in North Park in early 2022.

An artist’s rendering of Patisserie Melanie, opening in North Park in early 2022.

(Asquared Studios)

Pâtisserie Mélanie: North Park

Chef Melanie Dunn opened her Paris-inspired pastry shop on Park Boulevard in Hillcrest on Valentine’s Day in 2018, but it permanently closed in March 2020, due to the pandemic. Pâtisserie Mélanie will reopen early this year in a new location in North Park.

What to order: Kouign-amanns and cannelé (rum-soaked cake) pastries. 3750 30th St., San Diego. patisseriemelanie.com

Sunmerry Bakery Café: Mira Mesa

This Taiwan-born Asian bakery chain will open its 10th California store this spring in the Village at Mira Mesa shopping mall. The restaurants serve more than 50 varieties of baked goods and breads made with Japanese techniques and Taiwanese flavors.

What to order: Boba egg tarts, brown sugar boba nama roll cake and caramelized golden lava cake. 8110 Mira Mesa Blvd., San Diego. sunmerryus.com