Croissants of Distinction

10 top destinations for the iconic break-of-day pastry.

“Plain” croissants are not plain; the name is used interchangeably with butter croissants. Purists might dismiss flavored versions such as almond as a tad obvious, and more creative ones as sacrilege—but both are popular. Often shaped like crescents, but not always, croissants of many varieties abound in O.C. Not in order of preference, here are some favorites.

Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Cream Pan (1)

Diminutive and pretty strawberry croissants—featuring one or two delicate strawberry slices, fresh-made custard cream, and a dusting of powdered sugar—have for two decades been the star attraction at the Japanese-French boulangerie-pâtisserie. They’re a screaming bargain at $1.80. Fountain Valley, Tustin 

Rye Goods (2)

Mavericks! The croissants here use a rye sourdough that’s denser, darker … and fascinating. The formidable butter croissant is super flaky; the caramelized onion and Brie version, topped with seeds and salt flakes, is super tasty ($6, $6.50). Newport Beach

Shokuh Pâtisserie (3)

This croissant befits a pâtisserie displaying meticulously crafted creations. Consider it a special-occasion item—a thing of beauty made with French butter and finished with a delicate sweet gloss. The almond croissant is exquisite, not obvious
($4, $4.90).
Newport Beach

Pandor Artisan Bakery and Café (4)

Known as much for paninis and tartines as pastries, this spot presents a croissant that’s commanding in stature, butter-generous, satisfyingly crunchy, light gold in color, and gleaming with egg-washed dark stripes ($3.50). Irvine, Newport Beach, Orange 

Tableau Kitchen + Bar (5)

Near the entrance are creative croissants including the kimchi Spam & cheese, a Korean-inspired riot of savory deliciousness that pairs ideally with the Spam-garnished Budae Jjigae Bloody Mary (see Page 108). The ube blueberry almond croissant is its sweet-side equal ($5, $4.50). Costa Mesa

Chaupain Artisan French Bakery

The butter croissant at this storefront bakery-cafe is downright exuberant, sometimes audibly crispy, flaky, the fluffy innards a joy to pull apart, plus crazy buttery. The almond chocolate custard croissant on the same shelf is a delirious triple whammy ($5). Laguna Hills, San Clemente

FKN Bread

The hybrid Everything Croissant at this bakery (pronounced eff-kay-enn) resembles neither croissant nor bagel—maybe a mini loaf. Like its namesake bagel, it’s seed-topped and cream-cheese-filled, but inside it’s croissant-light as opposed to bagel-dense ($5.50). San Juan Capistrano

Boulangerie Pierre and Patisserie

Your croissant might look like a huge, menacing hunchback crab, but beneath that intimidating facade lurks an ingratiating softy; the shell seems to ooze butter. Caveat: If you only want one, the $10 credit card minimum might make you the crab ($3.25). Garden Grove

Blackmarket Bakery

The twice-baked almond croissant gets lots of attention, but the novel Jalapeno Popper version at this spot—cheese-crusted, with bacon, cream cheese, and cheddar cheese inside—has our attention of late. It begs to be twice-ordered ($5.50). Costa Mesa

ST Pâtisserie Chocolat 

Chef Stéphane Tréand heads the Pastry School. Several days a week he sells pastries in its front-room pâtisserie, notably a pain au chocolat, an airy and crackling cuboid croissant filled with a modest yet immodestly seductive layer of Valrhona dark chocolate ($4.50). Tustin 

Read More from our November 2022 Bread Issue!