Olympia's Left Bank Pastry brings French flair to the capital city.

Image: Kyle Johnson

Breadfarm

Edison | 1 hour 15 minutes

Half the charm is the location on the sleepy two-block stretch that constitutes the main drag in Edison, where Skagit Valley farmland approaches Samish Bay. The other half is the lineup of rustic loaves—like black olive baguettes—the bakery will slice upon request. Not to mention homey cookies (when’s the last time you had a really good thumbprint?) and Breadfarm’s buttery shortbread and graham crackers that will make you feel deep, heretofore unexplored emotions about graham crackers.

Fresh harvest: A black olive baguette from Breadfarm.

Pasteles Finos Del Angel

Tacoma | 40 minutes

Butter may rule the pastry kingdom, where too often dry vegan offerings crumble sadly into an afterthought. Not so at Tacoma's vegan heaven, where multicolor flags snap in the wind outside the mint-green bakery, a party unto itself in an otherwise drab industrial stretch near Tacoma Mall. The place is more or less split in half, with cases on the vegan and traditional sides equally bursting and tables laden with more plastic-wrapped boxes of cookies in the middle. A rainbow of conchas—sweet bread treats with colorful clamshell tops, airy even while bearing a proud vegan sticker—matches the bakery exterior. While churros get their own dedicated rolling machine by the register, a selection of bulk cookies in flavors from pineapple jam to corn travel better.

Every churro is a party at Pasteles Finos Del Angel in Tacoma.

Image: Kyle Johnson

Blackbird Bakery

Bainbridge | 45 minutes, including ferry

Road trip, hold the driving: This sweet shop is a mere ten-minute stroll from the Bainbridge ferry terminal, making it an easy pedestrian trip from downtown Seattle. The Winslow mainstay has anchored the island's quaint business district since 1999, building a reputation for wonderfully crumbly blueberry and lemon scones. Downtowners, rolls of croissant dough dipped in vanilla sugar, have become a signature. Savory bites are well represented with multiple flavors of quiche as well as cheddar riffs on the scone.

A lemon blueberry scone and downtowner from Bainbridge's Blackbird Bakery.

Image: Jane Sherman

Sultan Bakery

Sultan | 50 minutes

The sign on Highway 2, about halfway between Seattle and Stevens Pass, reads merely an all-caps "BAKERY." But the joint dishes every meal of the day, and is particularly famous for its heart-stopping breakfasts—a three-sausage plate, or a breakfast burrito stuffed with just about every dish on a Denny's menu. Sizable, surprisingly fluffy doughnuts dominate the pastry case, including bigfoot maple bars delicately painted with chocolate toenails (more appetizing than it sounds). Traffic is infamously bad through this mountain-bound route, but these portion sizes can sustain travelers through any gridlock.

Delish Bakery

Steilacoom | 50 minutes

When Lisa Holmgren's Alaska Airlines job of 20 years was eliminated during the pandemic, she took to culinary classes through a local community college to pass the time. Never one to merely dabble, she was soon rising before dawn to bake, launching her own store by September. Every day Holmgren commutes by ferry to downtown Steilacoom, a waterfront burg south of Tacoma dotted with historic buildings, and produces a rotating menu of coaster-sized brownies, twice-baked almond croissants stuffed with cream, and dulce de leche cookies. More than one waterfront park sits within walking distance of the tiny pink-and-white interior.

Steilacoom's waterfront parks pair perfectly with Delish's dense brownies and feather-light macarons.

Image: Kyle Johnson

Legendary Doughnuts

Auburn | 35 minutes

Enter the original location just west of Lake Tapps and you might require a few minutes of sensory processing before placing an order—sugary baking aromas float over a case jammed with the most wildly bedecked doughscapes this side of Portland’s famed Voodoo Doughnuts. Skip the gimmicky croissant-­doughnut squares and embrace the confections with corny names, from the buttercream-­filled Conan the Bavarian to Legendary’s signature Oprah, a brick-size maple bar topped with bacon. 

Saboteur Bakery

Bremerton | 1 hour 30 minutes, including ferry

Just across the Manette Bridge, a baker with a combined five stars of Michelin experience sells intricate twice-baked croissants and fluffy brioche sucre filled with dark chocolate or fruit with tangy mascarpone. The retail counter is spartan but the creations are elegant, technically impressive, and usually sell out by lunchtime. Take a cue from the croissant-and-ferry mural and opt for anything that involves laminated dough.

Double trouble: A twice baked croissant from Saboteur Bakery in Bremerton.

Left Bank Pastry

Olympia | 1 hour

Baker Gary Potter brought more than recipes from his culinary school days in Paris; after learning that French bakers all source their butter from Normandy, he found a way to obtain the same stuff through an Auburn-based importer. Made for layering into delicate, flaky doughs, the butter is the base to Left Bank's all-French menu, from delicate eclairs to swan-shaped pastries. The dense kouign-amann, basically a croissant with lofty dreams of being a cake, is made with salted butter and caramelized. "It's a reaction that's like a drug," says Potter, which has made the Breton classic a capital city bestseller.

The spread at Olympia's Left Bank Pastry.

Image: Kyle Johnson

Sluys Poulsbo Bakery

Poulsbo | 1 hour 20 minutes, including ferry

Smiles are almost a guarantee at a business run by the Sluys family since 1966, given the signature happy face cookies and matching yellow T-shirts on the wall. (Never fear, Eeyores: A blue sad-face cookie salutes the less cheery side of life.) A multigrain Poulsbo bread, developed by owner Marion Sluys in 1974, follows a Bible passage from Ezekiel about combining "wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet" and more, proving even God himself daydreams of opening a bakery. The waterfront town's Norwegian roots also inspired Viking cups, dense cinnamon rolls topped with cream cheese. 

Famous happy faces at Sluys Poulsbo Bakery.

Image: Jane Sherman

Zuri's Donutz

Lynnwood | 25 minutes

Wend your way north to Lynnwood and find an alternate doughnut universe wedged in between a tattoo parlor and a Little Caesars. Here, owner Davis Vincent turns his imagination loose on classic old fashioneds and cake doughnuts; he might glaze these in horchata, lavender, mimosa, java, or classic vanilla colored black as the night sky. He doesn’t stop there; Zuri’s drapes raised doughnuts in pandan cream and has an entire section of creations inspired by comic book superheroes (not to mention multiple flavors of “freddy crullers”). Forget the gaudy doughnuts of bygone trends; these creations could come only from Vincent, a guy who balances frenetic creativity with tremendous patience as customers attempt to narrow down their choices.

 

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