The South's Best Bakeries 2022

Back in the Day Bakery
Photo: Peter Frank Edwards

The motivation behind operating a bakery is different for every shop owner, but family and community are two recurring themes for many small-town bakers. An eagerness to share family traditions of baking coupled with an opportunity to serve their communities drives shop owners to keep their doors open, through good times and bad.

Every day, owners and employees of small-town bakeries across the South rise before the sun to knead bread dough, shape sweet rolls, and frost cakes, all done with a passion for preparing delicious, quality items and a desire to give back to their friends, neighbors, and other business owners. Whether tucked away on a quiet side street or situated alongside other businesses on a busy city block, these bakeries enjoy a host of loyal customers (both local and nationwide, thanks to internet sales) who drop by for a cup of coffee, a sandwich, a sweet roll, and a reminder of what life is like in a small town in the South.

01 of 20

20. Village Baking Co.

Village Baking Co. Dallas, Texas
Village Baking Co.

Dallas, Texas

You could say Clint and Kim Cooper opened The Village Baking Co. in 2004 as a love story to their customers, even those they had yet to meet. After studying in San Francisco and small French villages, Clint brought his knowledge of Old World-style bread back home to Texas, where he and Kim harnessed their passion for breaking bread around the table to create a baking process and quality product worthy to be enjoyed by their customers. The Coopers use the finest Texas wheat available and believe that making and breaking bread is a way of honoring the farmers who, year after year, till the soil. To get a taste of the Coopers' process, stop in for a flaky, buttery croissant, a chocolate kouign-amann, or a perfectly made Canele de Bordeaux., 214-821-3477, 1921 Greenville Avenue, Dallas, TX 75206 (Three other locations in Dallas)

02 of 20

19. Dutch Maid Bakery

Dutch Maid Bakery Tracy City, Tennessee
Dutch Maid Bakery

Tracy City, Tennessee

The Dutch Maid Bakery in Tracy City is on the historic registry for being the oldest family-owned bakery in the state of Tennessee. Opened in 1902 by John and Louise Baggenstoss, the bakery stayed in the family until 2003 when it closed, but it reopened in 2005 under the leadership of Executive Chef Cindy Day. Her philosophy is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," so Day continued to use the same mixers, ovens, and even recipes that John Baggenstoss used over 100 years earlier, including the regional favorite, salt-rise bread. Day has added her own touch with a variety of artisan breads as well as Cinnamon Twists, Cream Horns, and 7 Layer Bars. With plans to reinstate decorating and baking classes, Dutch Maid Bakery promises to remain one of Tracy City's local attractions, just as it was when it opened over 100 years ago., 931-592-3171, 109 Main Street, Tracy City, TN 38387

03 of 20

18. Bakery Lorraine

Bakery Lorraine San Antonio, Texas
Bakery Lorraine

San Antonio, Texas

While some of the best strudels and kolaches can be found deep in the heart of Texas, thanks to Bakery Lorraine, you can also enjoy delicious French pastries such as tarts, macarons, and flaky croissants. Anne Ng and Jeremy Mandell met while working for Thomas Keller in California's Napa Valley and have been baking together ever since. They opened Bakery Lorraine after moving to San Antonio in 2011 with the goal of showing the proper respect and attention to detail from start to finish, from using quality ingredients to offering their personal best at the counter. Anne and Jeremy believe that their baking helps create special moments for their customers, whether it is birthday box full of colorful macarons, a tiered anniversary cake, or a bowl of warm soup at the end of your workday., 210-862-5582, 306 Pearl Pkwy #110
San Antonio, TX 78215 (Three other locations and San Antonio and one in Austin)

04 of 20

17. Little Bread Company

Little Bread Company (Fayetteville, AR)
Little Bread Company

Fayetteville, Arkansas

We all long to frequent a place where everyone knows your name and "everything is made right." For the patrons of Little Bread Company, this is the place. After purchasing the bakery in 2014, Eric and Chloe Gallemore decided that their focus would be on food first, coffee second. "We are a bakery that sells coffee, as opposed to a coffee shop that sells baked goods," says Chloe. Every item is made fresh that morning, which means the staff start their day at 3:30 a.m. and get baking. Pop in for a cup of hot coffee and conversation, but also enjoy a sandwich made with one of their homemade breads, such as the Bordelais, a wheat sourdough bread, or indulge your sweet tooth with a larger-than-life cream puff., 479-527-0622, 116 North Block Avenue, Fayetteville, AR 72701

05 of 20

16. Campbell's Bakery

Campbell's Bakery Jackson, Mississippi
Campbell's Bakery

Jackson, Mississippi

Restaurant pastry chef Mitchell Moore was adept at making cheesecakes and never thought he would be baking tea cakes, but after purchasing Campbell's Bakery in 2011, he grew to love the icing-topped cookies that had made the bakery so beloved. Founded in 1962 by Army veteran Louis Campbell, the bakery enjoyed a thriving business, followed by multiple owners after Campbell's death, then years of economic hard times before Moore came upon the scene. He is now happy to serve the community that supported Campbell's throughout all the lean years. The bakery still offers the wildly popular tea cakes as well as a range of petit fours, cupcakes, cakes, and of course, cheesecakes. Moore's business strategy is simple: to offer the highest quality products possible, sell them at a fair price, and go above and beyond in serving all people., 601-362-4628, 3013 North State Street, Jackson, MS 39216

06 of 20

15. Root Baking Co.

Root Baking Co. Atlanta, Georgia
Root Baking Co.

Atlanta, Georgia

Initially opened in 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, what draws people to the Holy City is partly what drove owners Chris Wilkins and Nicole Lewis to move Root Baking Co. Charleston's seasonal tourist economy made it difficult to "pay the rent," so in 2018 the bakery relocated to Atlanta and added pastries and a savory food program to their bread lineup. Their mission remains unchanged, and while Wilkins and Lewis seek to embrace the diverse character of the Southern food landscape, they are dedicated to partnering with local and regional farmers and artisans to support the community while nourishing their neighbors and customers with quality food., 470-639-8046, 675 Ponce de Leon Avenue Northeast, Atlanta, GA, 30308 (second floor at Ponce City Market)

07 of 20

14. The Sweet Lobby

The Sweet Lobby Washington, DC
The Sweet Lobby

Washington, D.C.

The Sweet Lobby owner, Dr. Winnette McIntosh Ambrose understands that when a customer decides to indulge in a sweet treat, it had better be a worthy one. That is why this MIT graduate has built an award-winning boutique bakery destination known for globally inspired flavor incarnations, French macarons, madeleines, éclairs, canelés, and more. Within months of opening in 2011, Winnette, a self-taught pastry chef, won Food Network's Cupcake Wars. With a play on the name of their distinctive location in the heart of Capitol Hill, The Sweet Lobby advocates for your sweet tooth through attention to detail and sourcing the best ingredients. Stop by for a cupcake topped with The Sweet Lobby's signature frostings (European style buttercreams which do not contain shortening), or a melt-in-your-mouth, gluten-free macaron., 202-544-2404, 404 8th Street SE, Washington DC 20003

08 of 20

13. La Panadería Bakery Café

La Panaderia San Antonio, Texas
La Panaderia

San Antonio, Texas

The love for baking began early for brothers José and David Cáceres. As young boys they sold their mother Doña Josefina's fresh baked bread on the streets of Mexico City. José and David eventually took over and started baking on a large scale, supplying bread and pan dulce to businesses throughout Mexico. After achieving success at home in Mexico, the brothers decided to bring their passion for bread culture to Texas. In order to share their Mexican heritage and love for baking with the people of San Antonio, their adopted hometown, José and David opened La Panadería Bakery Café in 2014. Along with making breads that are reminiscent of Mexico's Golden Era, such as conchas and empanadas, the bakery also draws influence from European (try the Tres Leches Croissant or a kouign amann) and American bread-making techniques., 210-375-6746, 8305 Broadway, San Antonio, TX 78209 (Two other locations)

09 of 20

12. Niedlov's Bakery and Cafe

Niedlov’s Bakery & Café

Chattanooga, Tennessee

When Erik and Lauren Zilen bought Niedlov's (at that time predominately a wholesale bakery specializing in hamburger buns and hoagies) in 2015, they had two goals. According to Zilen, they wanted to "bring rustic, naturally leavened loaves of bread to our family and friends in East Tennessee, and to serve the community through the process of baking bread." All the pastries and breads (try the rosemary, garlic and sea salt bread or the chocolate croissant) are baked fresh every day and made by hand from scratch using centuries-old techniques and pure ingredients. Giving back to the community is a guiding principle at Niedlov's and they do that in a number of ways, from donating bread and pastries to healthcare workers, food kitchens and local farmers, hiring people who are rejoining the workforce after incarceration, and setting up a fund for those experiencing barriers to employment., 423-756-0303, 215 East Main Street, Chattanooga, TN, 37408

10 of 20

11. Boulted Bread

Boulted Bread Raleigh, North Carolina
Boulted Bread

Raleigh, North Carolina

Boulted Bread is a delicious mix of the old and new. The majority of flour used in the bakery is milled in-house and, with the exception of electricity, the process follows an age-old tradition. Young, novice bakers work to hone an Old-World craft while promoting their products on social media. The dream of a "simple, sturdy bakery" led Josh Bellamy, Sam Kirkpatrick, and Fulton Forde to open Boulted Bread in 2014. Word of their quality products and local, organic ingredients spread quickly, helping Boulted Bread become the bakery of choice for many in the area. However, the vision, to "do a small variety of things very well," remains unchanged. Start your day with a morning bun or ham and cheese croissant, or take home a loaf of Nordic Rye or Grits Bread., 919-999-3984, 614 W. South Street, Raleigh, NC 27603

11 of 20

10. Spalding's Bakery

Spaldings Bakery Lexington, Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky

The doughnuts baked every morning at Spalding's Bakery are often irregularly shaped and not uniformly colored, but that is one reason the loyal customers love them. They are handmade, nothing automated, and there is nothing irregular about the fresh, homemade taste. Opened in 1929, Bowman J. Spalding and his wife Zelma started selling doughnuts out of their home and, after several moves through-out the years to their present location, Spalding's is still a family-owned bakery. Generations of families have grown up enjoying Spalding's doughnuts and pastries, returning year after year for a taste of the perfect imperfection they have grown to love. Try the original glazed yeast doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, or a brownie, but don't expect to find anything trendy. Spalding's sticks to what made them famous - the classic tastes that remind you of your childhood., 859-252-3737, 760 Winchester Road, Lexington, KY 40505

12 of 20

9. Sub Rosa Bakery

Sub Rosa Bakery owners Evin and Evrim Dogu
Robbie Caponetto

Richmond, Virginia

Children of Turkish immigrants, siblings Evrim and Evin Dogu were taught the importance of hospitality and feeding guests. Eating was something you did together, and there was always bread. The love for bread, along with a love of fresh-milled grains and baking in wood-fired ovens, led the brother and sister to open Sub Rosa in 2012. The bakery quickly became known for turning out some of the country's best breads, and the Dogus have been semi-finalists multiple times for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Bakers. The Dogus maintain a focus on using local ingredients and milling their own flour in-house, which allows them to offer exceptionally fresh breads and pastries while at the same time building relationships with regional farmers., 804-788-7672, 620 North 25th Street, Richmond, VA 23223

13 of 20

8. Naegelin's Bakery

Naegelin's Bakery New Braunfels, Texas
Naegelin's Bakery

New Braunfels, Texas

A quick internet search for best apple strudel in Texas will lead you to this landmark. Texans love a good strudel and a good story, two reasons why Naegelin's Bakery has withstood the test of time. Armed only with a sack of flour and less than a dollar, Edouard Naegelin Sr. arrived in New Braunfels in 1868, opened a small bakery, and began selling bread. Now the oldest continuously operating bakery in the state of Texas, the family-run bakery's (the Granin family purchased the business over 40 years ago) fresh kolaches, pastries, pies, and cakes are still made with the same care, quality ingredients, and recipes developed by the Naegelin family during more than a century of experimentation., 830-625-5722, 129 South Seguin Avenue, New Braunfels, TX 78130

14 of 20

7. Bracken Mountain Bakery

Bracken Mountain Bakery Brevard North Carolina
Bracken Mountain Bakery

Brevard, North Carolina

A welcome respite and nourishing refreshments are important for those biking the trails surrounding Brevard, North Carolina, known as the cycling capital of the South. That's why cyclists, along with tourists and locals, have made Bracken Mountain Bakery a popular destination. The love of the mountain region and the desire for good bread led Bill and Debbie Tellman to move to Brevard and open a bakery in 1995. The early days were a little rough and things didn't always run smoothly (there was a day when the bread wasn't ready until 11 a.m.), but now customers of the town's unofficial meeting place know that organic bread and pastries will be waiting for them whenever they arrive. Whether traversing rugged trails on two wheels or simply taking in the mountain air, stop in at Bracken Mountain for a slice of homemade cinnamon raisin bread or a seasonal-inspired sweet roll., 828-883-4034, 42 South Broad Street, Brevard NC 28712

15 of 20

6. Continental Bakery

The Continental Bakery Exterior
Natalie Walker

Birmingham, Alabama

To paraphrase a popular country song, Carole Griffin was sourcing locally before sourcing locally was cool. From the time she opened the Continental Bakery in 1985, Griffin has sought out the best ingredients from area growers, whether it meant harvesting figs from a neighbor's tree, bartering for fresh honey, or buying cheese from a family dairy. For over 30 years, The Continental has turned out flaky pastries, tea loaves, muffins (try the lemon-poppyseed vegan variety), and fragrant breads (the Wild Yeast Sourdough is a current bestseller and perfect for toast and sandwiches)., 205-870-5584, 1909 Cahaba Road, Birmingham, AL 35223

16 of 20

5. Alessi Bakeries

Alessi Bakeries tampa florida
Alessi Bakeries

Tampa, Florida

Nicolo Alessi arrived in Tampa, Florida, from Italy over 100 years ago carrying his few belongings, a heart for his European heritage and an amazing bread recipe. Eager to serve others, Nicolo opened a small hole-in-the-wall bakery and delivered bread by horse and wagon. Because of Nicolo's skill with baked goods and his willingness to teach other chefs, the humble shop became a food empire—Tampa's oldest family-run bakery now includes a multi-property storefront, a manufacturing plant, and a national distribution service. Whether you find Alessi's products in your grocery store or are lucky enough to step inside the bakery for a Cuban sandwich or a serving of tiramisu, you can still taste Nicolo's attentiveness to consistency and quality in every bite., 813-879-4544, 2909 West Cypress Street, Tampa, FL 33609

17 of 20

4. Strossner's Bakery, Cafe & Deli

Strossner's Bakery, Cafe & Deli Greenville South Carolina
Strossner's Bakery, Cafe & Deli

Greenville, South Carolina

Founded in 1947 by Richard Strossner Sr., a German immigrant and ocean liner pastry chef, Strossner's Bakery Cafe & Deli (the oldest family-owned Bakery in Greenville), is now celebrating its 75th anniversary. Passed down through generations of the Strossner family, and currently owned and run by Tapley Strossner, the bakery produces fine layer cakes, pastries, and breads. Don't just stop in for their famous king cake: Strossner's offers sandwiches, warm soups (cozy up to a bowl of their tomato bisque), and fresh casseroles for takeout or delivery., 864-479-4738, 21 Roper Mountain Road, Greenville, SC 29607

18 of 20

3. The Harbinger Café and Bakery

harbinger cafe and bakery charleston south carolina
The Harbinger Cafe & Bakery

Charleston, South Carolina

Self-professed soul sisters turned work wives Cameron Neal and Greer Gilchrist opened The Harbinger Café and Bakery in 2017 with a two-fold mission in mind: To create a warm and inviting atmosphere that feels like home for patrons as well as a work environment marked by mutual respect for everyone on staff. Not only does Harbinger nourish its customers with scrumptious sweets (the bestseller is the "Best Friend" cookie, which incorporates 3 types of dark chocolate and local sea salt) and delicious salads, but like many bakeries, the café generously gives back to the community, donating time, proceeds, and food to underserved members of the city. Step inside the bright green building on King Street for breakfast, lunch (gluten-free and plant-based options available), or simply a warm mug of coffee., 843-637-3410, 1107 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403

19 of 20

2. Willa Jean

willa jean bakery new orleans
Willa Jean

New Orleans, Louisiana

Naming her restaurant after her grandmother, pastry chef Kelly Fields opened Willa Jean in 2015. It's a bakery-restaurant with a modern twist on the classic Southern food that visitors (and locals) to New Orleans expect. What began as a bakery and café soon turned into a full-blown restaurant, and Fields added savory dishes to the menu. Though Fields left the restaurant in mid 2021, Willa Jean continues in its current form while serving breakfast and lunch daily. Stop in for a taste of cornbread with cane syrup, biscuits with fried chicken and sausage gravy, or fresh breads and a pastry., 504-509-7334, 611 O'Keefe Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70113

20 of 20

1. Back in the Day Bakery

Back in the Day Bakery
Peter Frank Edwards

Savannah, Georgia

Cheryl Day and her husband, Griff, have owned and operated Back in the Day Bakery since 2002. It's a warm space in the city's Starland District beloved for its handmade Southern baked goods and communal spirit. Like many businesses during the pandemic, Back in the Day had to close and create a new business model. In June 2020 the bakery re-opened with a new walk-up window and now offers nationwide shipping of cupcakes and cookies. On the weekends Cheryl continues to delight her customers with Cold Oven Pound Cakes, Chocolate Chip Sammies, and Apple Bacon Cheddar Scones. When the bakery case is empty, the doors close. This year Cheryl will also be hosting online cooking classes where you can learn along with her as she bakes her way through her new cookbook, Cheryl Day's Treasury of Southern Baking.

Learn more., 912-495-9292, 2403 Bull Street, Savannah, GA 31401

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