Pillowy white inside and craggy outside, the golden baguettes stacked like firewood behind the counter at Porto’s in Buena Park are essential to the scores of terrific Cuban media noche sandwiches churned out daily. But plenty of fresh baguettes are sold for takeout at this bustling minichain started by Rosa Porto and family after they fled Cuba in 1971. 714-367-2030
Burnished, bulbous loaves of superb, eggy challah are a mainstay at Efren’s Bakery in Lake Forest, where many a customer has a standing Friday order for pickup pre-Shabbat. Fans also swear that the flavorful bread is ideal when day-old for French toast and Thanksgiving turkey stuffing. Unexpected tip: Efren’s makes a mean tres leches cake. 949-699-0930
Of course, the ambitious crew at Rye Goods would painstakingly produce the finest, darkest, most wholesome loaf in all of Newport Beach. Danes adore seedy and dense breads for toast and cheeses—this version is thick with fresh seeds and malty notes that taste great under avocado, cream cheese, or cultured butter and berry preserves. 949-432-5550
Bread Artisan Bakery in Santa Ana shows us how easy it is to love this chewy, leaf-shaped bread laced with kalamata and Castelvetrano olives and adored in southern France. Flattish with staggered holes, it’s a natural for tearing and sharing, no knife necessary. Find at select farmers markets; some Trader Joe’s locations have other bread varieties from Bread Artisan Bakery. 855-282-7323
Moses Kwon uses rigorous French tradition and modern passion to create deep flavor and stunning textures from four ingredients: flour, Baja sea salt, water, and airborne wild yeast. The giant, crafty crusted boule from Moses-Bread in Tustin stays fresh and tasty for days at room temp, but only if there’s any left. Baguettes, too. 714-659-1717
Carlos Perez’s sleek new bagelry, Boil and Bake, is a Costa Mesa must-stop for artisan craft bagels. They’re naturally leavened, shaped by hand, and creatively adorned with top-shelf ingredients. The Lox is superlative, starring house-cured salmon by his chef pal, Luke Bram. Bagels by the box as well.
Always a sellout, the tan squat walnut loaves at Cream Pan easily outrank the local competition thanks to a lavish use of fat, fresh walnuts. They are ideal for a cheese board, avocado toast, or binging alone. Request slicing for same-day sharing or freeze airtight to enjoy within a month for best flavor.
Fountain Valley, 714-760-4854;
German Farmers Bread
German Deli in Huntington Beach is an enduring source for carefully crafted sausages, imported mustards, and site-baked breads such as Bauernbrot, a nutritious traditional rye with a dense crumb and thin crust. The round 24-ounce loaf is supremely suited to hearty liverwursts, sturdy soups, and Black Forest ham sandwiches. 714-879-1470
Mahogany brown pretzels the size of Frisbees are a Costa Mesa tradition at Globe Deli. Baked fresh daily, the hearty twists are simultaneously soft, chewy, and malty. Crunchy salt crystals light up bites that beg to be coupled with beer, brats, or a bold German mustard. 949-642-3784
FKN Bread is a bakery on the rise. It started in the Vandenberg family’s humble garage, but today the retail storefront woos downtown San Juan Capistrano with giant loaves dominated by a fully loaded jalapeno-cheddar boule. Order in person or email email@example.com.
Parker House Rolls
A traditional favorite for Thanksgiving feasts, these yeasty, feather-light rolls are rarely attempted at home, hence their dominance at supermarkets. OC Baking Company bakes them for top restaurants, but you can score them Saturdays at Orange’s Home Grown market. 714-998-2253
Salt & Butter Rolls
Okayama Kobo Bakery in downtown Anaheim is a Japanese jewel. It imports custom, additive-free flour milled from Hokkaido wheat to create these radically fluffy rolls that resemble anime croissants and taste like savory clouds. Order ahead or arrive early as they often sell out. 714-603-7332
El Molino de Oro expertly bakes these Mexican white bread rolls—beloved for sandwiches, with the migajón (center) often torn out to make room for fillings. A gently chewy crust holds things together while the spongy center soaks up meaty juices. Take some home or, if you’re hangry, they’ll assemble a mighty good sandwich. Lake Forest, 949-581-8113; Orange, 714-602-9607; San Juan Capistrano, 949-489-9230
Scratch Bakery Cafes are dependably swamped for breakfasts starring variations on eggs Benedicts—built on their very own English muffins. Buy them by the half dozen while they last and discover the wondrous crunch and chew beyond those supermarket brands baked days ago. Laguna Hills, 949-859-2253; Newport Beach, 949-524-8200
Sangak, the dimply whole-wheat Persian flatbread dotted with sesame seeds, is baked throughout the day in special ovens at Crown Valley Market in Mission Viejo. Sold in sheets longer than your arm, the warm, soft flatbread is folded in paper to avoid sticking to itself. 949-340-1010