38 Burro Alley, 213-369-1604
8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays, closed Sundays
Cash & credit cards
Owned by South Korean natives Amanda and Sky Yang, B&B (aka bread and butter) is the most unusual bakery to open in Santa Fe this year. The tiny spot in Burro Alley fills its pastry cases with breads and sweets that are largely gluten-free, like the elegant French-style macarons ($2 each). The perfectly formed, fragile meringues, traditionally made from almond flour, are available in 12 jewel-like colors and flavors that include hazelnut, peanut butter, cookies and cream, chocolate, and mocha. Lemon, raspberry, and blueberry, with their fruity and less sweet fillings, were our favorites. Elegantly packed in slender white boxes of six or 12, they would make a lovely holiday or hostess gift — but only if you can keep your fingers out of the box until you reach your destination.
The lemon and chocolate gluten-free madeleines (2 for $2) — the almond-shaped French cookie immortalized by Marcel Proust — are barely distinguishable from their flour-based prototypes, and make a soothing side to a cup of coffee or tea. The delicate chiffon cakes ($6.99 per slice, $36 for the whole cake) are as pleasing to the eye as as they are delicious. The strawberry, green tea, and chocolate versions are gluten-free; the blueberry and mocha cakes are also dairy-free. All are so light you will barely notice you are eating dessert.
The other side of the counter is stacked with more traditionally East Asian offerings, like milk bread ($5 per loaf), a simultaneously dense and fluffy loaf made with whole milk and a water-based roux or paste. The fine-textured bread slices and toasts beautifully, and forms the base for B&B’s green-chile toast ($3.50 per slice), a slightly sweet, spicy, cheesy breakfast treat or snack. The bakery’s version of a black sesame ball ($2.50) is different in that the sesame seeds are not a filling, but lightly sprinkled throughout the batter that forms the virtually greaseless hollow orb. A visit to the elegant and unusual B&B Bakery is well worth the hunt for a downtown parking place.
BoulTawn’s Bakery, Café & Gallery
105 E. Marcy St., 505-983-9006
7 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
Cash & credit cards
BoulTawn’s, named for co-owner and baker Tawn Dix and his silent partner Pete Boulton, is a full-fledged café as well as a bakery, serving the usual breakfast and lunch suspects — burritos, omelettes, sandwiches and panini, pizza, crepes, soups, and salads — as well as baked goods ranging from bread to bagels to muffins, cinnamon rolls, turnovers, and croissants.
The cinnamon rolls ($2.95) and croissants ($2.95) were a bit gummy and nothing to write home about. A companion rated the breakfast sandwich with a griddled egg, bacon, and melted cheese ($6.75) a few steps above its fast-food counterparts, with better quality ingredients, but, again, not so newsworthy.
The turnovers ($3), available in a range of jammy fruit fillings, including chile-studded cherry and apple, fared much better. Springtime brings apricots to mind — even though the early bloomers rarely survive our late frosts — and the sweet-tart apricot filling was nostalgically satisfying, as was the crisp, flaky pastry enveloping it. A coarse, sparkling white sugar-induced crackle was the perfect finish to the crust.
But the two hands-down standouts at BoulTawn’s — worth not just a letter home but also many return visits to the café — are the Frito pie ($6.95) and the bagels ($1.35 plain, $3.50 with cream cheese, $12.95 per dozen).
The Frito pie — a large plate of perfectly cooked pinto beans and beefy chile, ladled over a generous serving of crunchy, salty corn chips and topped with crisp diced onion, tomato, shredded lettuce and cheese, is as good — no, better — than any we’ve had in town. The red chile burn starts slowly and builds gently. It won’t leave you gasping, but you will definitely know it’s there.
The bakery’s website brags that it’s the “home of New Mexico’s best bagels” — and we have to agree that these properly boiled, shiny, chewy babies are not only the best we’ve had in Santa Fe, they can also stand up to most of their big-city, bicoastal brethren. A look at Dix’s résumé suggests why that may be so: His baking career began at the Bagel Street Café in San Francisco’s East Bay area. We’re glad this Northern New Mexico native brought his West Coast expertise home.
Dulce Bakery & Coffee
1100 Don Diego Ave., Suite A, 505-989-9966
7 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, closed Sundays
Cash & credit cards
When Dennis Adkins and Kirk Barnett opened Dulce Bakery & Coffee in a shopping center on Cordova Road in 2010, the sunlit, colorful room and open kitchen attracted an almost-instant local following, drawn to the pair’s always fresh, baked-from-scratch pastries, quiches, cakes, cookies, tarts, and pies. Sold to a new owner in late 2017, the business lost customers and closed for a while, until head pastry chef Adkins and manager Barnett reclaimed and reopened the bakery less than a month ago.
All the things we loved about Dulce have come back with the original partners — including the bakery’s original motto: Be Fresh (baking daily); Be Local (making use of locally sourced ingredients when possible, including flour, eggs, milk, and fruits and vegetables in season); Be Good (using eco-friendly packaging, reusable dishes and utensils, and energy-saving appliances); and Be Sweet (describing not only the baked goods, but also the co-owners’ business philosophy and gracious counter service).
Dulce has always offered better than good renditions of traditional, sweet, currant- and fruit-studded scones and plain and filled croissants. But our favorite versions of these breakfast treats are Adkins’ special savory variations. The oversized, light, and crumbly scone ($3.25) includes corn kernels, bits of sweet red pepper, and roasted green chile, the whole crowned with a wash of melted cheese. Generously stuffed with slices of ham, cheese, and green chile, the hearty croissant ($4.95) boasts a buttery, flaky, altitude-defying lightness.
We were also happy to find a few other longtime favorites in the case during a recent visit: the just tart enough lemon bar ($4.25); a silky smooth individual cheesecake topped with fresh fruit ($5.75); and the not too big, not too small, cream cheese-frosted red velvet and carrot cupcakes ($2.75 each, $33 for a baker’s dozen). Welcome back, Dulce!