Second Helpings: Bakeries

Chronicle writer Greg Beets writes up local bakeries in this week's edition of Second Helpings.

Tasty, bite-sized restaurant listings compiled from new and previous reviews, guides, and poll results. This week's entries were compiled by Chronicle writer Greg Beets. When you need quick, reliable information about Austin eateries, check here.

Sweetish Hill

1120 W. Sixth, 472-1347

Mon-Sat, 6:30am-7pm; Sun, 6:30am-5pm

98 San Jacinto Blvd., 472-2411

Mon-Fri, 7:30am-4pm

This well-loved Austin institution has earned its reputation with excellent breads, cakes, and pastries. The ham and cheese croissant is a hearty way to start the day. Sweetish Hill keeps it coming through the lunch hour with great sandwiches on fresh bakery bread along with non-standard sides like cilantro potato salad, tabbouleh, and stuffed grape leaves. For dessert, try the plum tart, bee sting, or lemon bar.

Texas French Bread

2900 Rio Grande, 499-0035

Mon-Fri, 6am-7pm; Sat-Sun, 7am-5pm

3213 Red River, 478-8794

Mon-Fri, 6am-7pm; Sat, 6am-5pm; Sun, 6am-3pm

2270 Guadalupe, 474-2785

Mon-Fri, 7am-5pm; Sat, 9am-4pm

3112-A Windsor, 478-8845

Mon-Fri, 6:30am-6pm; Sat, 7am-5pm; Sun, 8am-3pm

10225 Research, 418-1991

Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm; Sat, 9am-6pm; Sun, 10am-5pm

3736 Bee Caves, 306-8010

Mon-Fri, 7am-7pm; Sat, 8am-5pm; Sun, 9am-3pm

1722 S. Congress, 440-1122

Mon-Fri, 7am-6pm; Sat, 8am-6pm; Sun, 8am-3pm

From its UT-area flagship to the furthest reaches of Silicon Hills, Texas French Bread keeps the faithful sated with pastries, sandwiches, soups, salads, and an above-average coffee blend. In addition to its namesake item, the focaccia sandwiches and Hobbit Bread are standouts. Dessert-minded hedonists will want to sample the Hyde Park Fudge cake.

Upper Crust

4508 Burnet, 467-0102

Mon-Sat, 6:30am-6:30pm; Sun, 6:30am-1pm

Cinnamon roll aficionados should try the Upper Crust's version, a refined taste treat that refuses to overwhelm the cinnamon with sticky kid stuff sweetness. This centrally located bakery also serves breads, pastries, cakes, tarts, and cookies. The Black Gold cookie is as chocolate as chocolate can be. Workers from nearby state offices and medical buildings crowd the Upper Crust at lunchtime for soups, salads, sandwiches, and spring rolls.

Russell's

3339 Hancock Dr., 419-7877

Mon-Sat, 7am-6pm; Sun, 8am-1pm

Who would've thought a former filling station would make such an inviting neighborhood bakery and coffee shop? Russell's carries a fine assortment of cakes, cookies, and sandwiches along with coffee, juices, and Italian sodas. The peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie is a particularly tasty reward. With quick access via the Hancock Drive overpass, it is a convenient place to wile away a lazy morning regardless of what side of MoPac you live on.

Rather Sweet

814 West 12th, 474-4822

Mon-Sat, 7am-5pm

Former Schlotzsky's pastry chef Rebecca Rather runs this multifaceted bakery near ACC's Rio Grande Campus. The apple-smoked bacon cheddar scone, Elgin sausage kolache, and Texas Pecan Classic Cinnamon Roll are some of the superlative breakfast items. For lunch, try the turkey with havarti or grilled vegetable sandwich on fresh ciabatta buns along with some homemade soup.

Quack's 43rd Street Bakery

411 E. 43rd, 453-3399

Mon-Fri, 6:30am-11pm; Sat-Sun, 8am-11pm

Although Quack's landmark coffee shop on the Drag succumbed to prosperity last year, their Hyde Park hangout does its part to carry on the spirit of Slacker-era Austin. It is a great place to luxuriate over coffee and a muffin while eavesdropping on gossipy conversations about the local music and arts scenes. Reasonably priced sandwiches and rice and beans resonate with the budget-minded, while the Toll House pie resonates with the sweet-tooth crowd.

Central Market

4001 N. Lamar, 206-1000

Daily, 9am-9pm

4477 S. Lamar, 899-4300

Daily, 9am-9pm

If you're shopping for a picnic, the bakery at Central Market is a good place to start. Their fresh, chewy jalapeño cheddar and sourdough breads will turn any sandwich into a conversation piece. Other noteworthy items include croissants almost as big as footballs, and huge peanut butter cookies that will stick to the roof of your mouth. Throw in the rest of Central Market's formidable selection and you're ready to picnic. The North Lamar location even has a park out back.

Whole Foods Market

601 N. Lamar, 476-1206

Daily, 8am-10pm

9607 Research, 345-5003

Daily, 8am-10:30pm

Whole Foods' Bakehouse carries a fine assortment of breads, cakes, cookies, and pastries. Their strawberry, raspberry, and cinnamon scones make a fine mid-morning snack, and the cocoa chewy cookie will placate any chocolate lover. Meanwhile, their tasty "gingerbread people" resist sexist language with a moniker vaguely evocative of cannibalism. The bakery also carries a wide variety of vegan sweets.

The Bakehouse

5404 Manchaca, 443-5167

Daily, 7am-midnight

Although it is perhaps better known as a homestyle restaurant/catering operation with an eclectic international menu, the Bakehouse also carries a formidable selection of fresh baked desserts. Their Black Forest torte will take you back to childhood on a wave of super-rich, velvety sweetness. Other items of note include the cream cheese canoes, rum raisin runners, and an above-average chocolate chip nut cookie. The Bakehouse bakes the buns for their burgers and sandwiches, and a loaf of fresh-baked bread is served with dinner entrees.

Onion Creek Bakery

10003 Manchaca, 280-6399

Tue-Fri, 6:30am-6pm; Sat-Mon, 7am-1pm

This South Austin bakery serves croissants, scones, and sausage rolls to the morning crowd along with a full line of cakes and cookies. Onion Creek's specialty items include cheesecake and almond macaroons.

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