10 Top International Cities for Bakeries, According to the Experts

Attention pastry lovers, this is your international boarding call

<p>DICKSON LEE/South China Morning Post via Getty Images</p>

DICKSON LEE/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

There's nothing quite like sinking your teeth into a piece of perfectly flaky pastry or a heavenly loaf of bread from a neighborhood bakery. Often, these simple, sweet pleasures provide us with a much better understanding of local culture and traditions.

This year, our Food & Wine experts found the best bakery scenes in some of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, like Paris, London, Lisbon, and Tokyo. Their large and diverse populations constantly transform these cities' culinary identities, melding tradition and techniques to create something wholly new. And while half of the winners are in Europe, the others are sprinkled all around the world, from Hong Kong and Tokyo to Mexico City and Melbourne.

Paris, France

<p>John Heseltine / Alamy</p>

John Heseltine / Alamy

Travelers will find plenty of new bakeries, from traditionally French to Japanese and Lebanese, to satisfy their sweet tooth in between Olympic events. If you're a fan of chef Cédric Grolet's viral Instagram videos, add his new café in the 2nd arrondissement to your wishlist. There, you'll find his signature trompe l'oeil fruit-inspired desserts and two brand-new delicacies: croissants-beignets and large pizzalike cookies with chocolate and hazelnuts.

In the 19th arrondissement, Ginko, the brainchild of Sayo Yamagata and Othman El Ouraoui, is making waves with its blend of Japanese, Moroccan, and French flavors into distinctive pastries, cakes, and tarts.

At LV DReam, Louis Vuitton's new exhibition space and café, chef Maxime Frédéric crafts elegant confections — think chocolate éclairs or hazelnut entremets — branded with the heritage company's logo. Other notable openings in Paris include Christophe Louie's celebration of Italian panettone, as well as Lebanese bakery and tea room, Maison SiBon.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

<p>Scott Biales / Alamy</p>

Scott Biales / Alamy

In Argentina's capital you'll often see lines of patrons snake out of pastry shops, offering freshly baked alfajores, rolls, cookies of every kind, and traditional breads like cremonas. During lockdown, sculptor Kenya Ama melded her love of molding clay with a growing interest in laminating and twisting dough into creative alfajores and more. She and her partner Alejo Benitez rehabbed an old bar, tweaking the original name to create Argo Café, where cream-topped cake slices with seasonal fruit, lavishly frosted tiers of sponge cakes, cheesy chipacitos, and other treats abound.

Seoul, South Korea

<p>Aflo Co. Ltd. / Alamy</p>

Aflo Co. Ltd. / Alamy

There's a reason why South Korea's capital is on every pastry lover's travel wishlist; the city is chock-full of excellent bakeries churning out classic crusty loaves, cakes, and sweet treats. In fact, Seoul's bakery scene is going through a transformation as small, family-owned spots, a staple in the city, have been taking things up a notch by experimenting with ingredients and flavors. Think squid-ink croissant cakes with matcha cream and cheddar-flavored cream cheese filled cakes at Nudake, and spring onion pretzel bagels at London Bagel Museum.

London, England

<p>Robert Evans / Alamy</p>

Robert Evans / Alamy

You can quite simply find everything your heart desires in this tea- and pastry-loving city, from yuzu, orange, and almond jaffa cakes at Toad, a "Cheesy Thing" (a cook's favorite Gruyere bun) or orange cardamom bun at Little Bread Pedlar, bakewell tarts and rhubarb danish at Jolene. The Eccles cakes with Lancashire cheese and the ever-changing jellies and tarts at St JOHN make members of the Food & Wine team wobble at the knees. Cakes and "fancies" at Maison Bertaux have been making Londoners smile since 1871.

Hong Kong, China

<p>DICKSON LEE/South China Morning Post via Getty Images</p>

DICKSON LEE/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

As a bustling business hub that draws people from around the world, Hong Kong has no shortage of bakeries to satisfy anyone's sweet tooth. Head to Happy Bakery, an institution in the city, for fluffy coconut "cocktail" buns. Red bean pancakes are the order of the day at the popular Kei Tsui Cake Shop, and for European-style pastries, stop by Passion by Gerard Dubois in Wan Chai.

Rome, Italy

<p>Dorothea Schmid/laif/Redux</p>

Dorothea Schmid/laif/Redux

One of the joys of visiting Rome is eating your way through the Eternal City's many neighborhood pasticcerie. If you need proof that Romans take their pastries and bread seriously, then visit one of the many over a hundred-year-old bakeries dotting the city — Regoli Pasticceria's light maritozzi with whipped cream are a breakfast delight, while two-century-old Pasticceria Boccione's crostata and torta ricotta are an absolute classic.

Mexico City, Mexico

<p>Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images</p>

Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Our readers continue to rank Mexico's capital as one of the best culinary hotspots in the world for everything from fine dining experiences to a casual cup of atole and conchas. Thousands of panaderías line Mexico City's streets, with some, like La Vasconia, dating back to the 19th century. Delve into traditional pastries like crunchy orejas and crumbly polvorones, as well as decadent bombas de dulce de leche, and perfectly flaky croissants.

Tokyo, Japan

<p>Deborah Van Kirk / Alamy</p>

Deborah Van Kirk / Alamy

The Japanese capital is certainly having a moment with travelers post-pandemic. While Tokyo buzzes with exclusive restaurants and luxury new hotels, its impressive bakery and coffee shop scene offers an even more authentic look at this city's spectacular dining heritage. From European-style glazed pastries to Japanese breads and delicacies such as shokupan and sweet rolls with red bean paste, Tokyo's pastry shops are a constant reminder of this city's cosmopolitan and ever-evolving spirit. In a city of standout experiences, Shoji Natsuko's eye-popping fruit- and flower-inspired creations at Ete are a special feast for the senses.

Vienna, Austria

<p>Cathrine Stukhard/laif/Redux</p>

Cathrine Stukhard/laif/Redux

Vienna's love affair with sweets dates back at least seven centuries when people lined up for bread from a small shop on Stephansplatz. Nowadays, the city's many bakeries and pastry chefs continue to build on this heritage one slice of Sachertorte at a time. Head to Gerstner for classic strudel, ornate cakes, petit fours, and more. Vollpension's cafes are staffed by senior citizens and offer the opportunity for intergenerational connection, plus a source of steady income for a vulnerable population.

Lisbon, Portugal

<p>Konstantin Malkov / Alamy</p>

Konstantin Malkov / Alamy

On any given morning, the air in the Portuguese capital has a sweet vanilla scent as the city's hundreds of pastelarias prepare the day's treats — from fluffy Bola de Berlim and Toucinho do Céu to cookies, breads, and traditional pasteis da nata. Bakeries in Lisbon are so much more than just pastry shops; they are an essential part of the city's social life, where friends and neighbors flock in the afternoons to catch up over a drink and a sweet treat. Sumptuous, pastry-centric breakfast is served each morning at Casa Balthazar, owned by the same family behind the oldest patisserie in the city, Confeitaria Nacional.

Plus One: Melbourne, Australia

<p>CHARLOTTE ORR/The New York Times/Redux</p>

CHARLOTTE ORR/The New York Times/Redux

As the city with the highest concentration of restaurants and coffee shops per capita in the world, no wonder our judges were impressed with Melbourne's dining scene. Pastries are an obsession here. From lively neighborhood cafes to artisanal bakeries, you don't have to look hard to find a nice spot to satisfy your sweet tooth. Best of all, exploring the city's pastry shops is like taking a mini world tour — chewy bagels, buttery croissants, and soft Japanese milk bread are just the tip of the iceberg.

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