New York could be nicknamed bread city. Whether it’s oversized soft pretzels in Times Square or fluffy loaves of brioche from a pastry shop in Lower Manhattan, delicious bread in NYC is available in all shapes and styles in every borough. Bagels, pizza, and sandwiches; baguettes, seeded rye, sourdough, and croissants; countless iterations saturate all corners of this town, thus, a low-carb diet is tough to stick to if you’re spending more than a day or two here.
For all the carb lovers on the hunt for the best bread in NYC, these New York bakeries and bread shops won’t let you or your cravings down.
The baguette at this SoHo bakery and restaurant from Chef Keith McNally is worth the trip alone. That’s not to say that the food isn’t outstanding at Balthazar, because it is. While you can sit in the famed New York brasserie and be part of “the scene” chowing on the steak frites or duck confit––with bread undoubtedly accompanying your meal––you can also pop into the bakery next door and take a few of these simple yet perfect baguettes to go.
Other doughy offerings on the boulangerie menu include rosemary ciabatta, pain au levain, and olive batard. Sandwiches, soups, salads, and desserts are available too.
“Keeping it local since 1916,” this Jewish-style bakery on the Upper East Side was founded by a Hungarian family and specialized in baking rye and pumpernickel bread to serve the local immigrant community. Today, Orwashers still sells those classic loaves of bread but has since introduced an array of others to its doughy collection.
Now owned by Jim Cohen, Orwashers crafts pullman, multigrain, burger buns, and even artisan wine bread––think cabernet rustica and chardonnay miche. Beyond the original spot on East 78th Street, you can also find their bread at local farmer’s markets, Gourmet Garage in Lincoln Square, and the Upper West Side branch that opened in 2016.
Sullivan Street Bakery
On a delectable mission to make the best bread in NYC, this Roman-style bakery began with humble roots in SoHo. Aspiring sculptor Jim Lahey loved the bread he ate as an art student in Italy but didn’t find any comparable in New York. Wowed by the freshness of what he tasted, Lahey set out to recreate those Italian loaves in 1994 when he founded Sullivan Street Bakery and never stopped.
Now with three locations in the city––the flagship in Hell’s Kitchen, one in Chelsea, and one down the street from the original SoHo shop––Sullivan Street Bakery is a name you’ll often hear in conversations about the best bread in NYC.
She Wolf Bakery
Although this wholesale bread bakery from Andrew Tarlow and Austin Hall supplies some of New York’s top restaurants, bread lovers can shop for She Wolf baked goods at several of the city’s Greenmarkets: 77/79th Street, Central Park West, 97th Street, Columbia, Fort Greene Park, McCarren Park, Domino Park, and Union Square.
Since She Wolf bread is made from organic ingredients and most contain levain, also known as a sourdough starter, these carbs taste better than your average loaf and are also easier to digest. Bread enthusiasts can choose from toasted sesame wheat, miche, classic pullman, sprouted rye, and other flavors.
Come for the sweets, but leave with the bread. While this Manhattan mainstay is best known for its gooey chocolate chip walnut cookies, Levain Bakery started as a bread bakery and continues to churn out some of the best bread in NYC. Country boule, whole wheat raisin loaf, and cinnamon butter brioche are a handful of the offerings at the West 74th Street locale, which also happens to be the original Levain.
The brainchild of Pam Weekes and Connie McDonald, Levain Bakery makes bread and pastries fresh every day and donates leftovers to charity each night, a policy that the duo started when they opened in 1995. Since then, the bakery has expanded to include four other outposts in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn.
The Upper West Side gourmet grocer sells everything a chef would want to prepare a decadent meal, including some of the best bread in NYC. Jewish rye, San Francisco sourdough, seven-grain, and pumpernickel loaves; buttery croissants; sesame, everything and cinnamon raisin bagels, and other yeast-based edibles await at Zabar’s bread counter.
Prepared fresh all day long, the emporium’s bread perfectly accompanies the shop’s deli meats and cheeses. Be forewarned––it’s not uncommon to wait 30 minutes for a specific type of bread until a fresh loaf emerges from the oven. Tip: Go early to avoid the crowds.
Set in The Bronx’s Little Italy, also called Arthur Avenue, this Italian bakery has been baking and selling some of New York’s best bread since 1967. Sicilian immigrant Pietro (Peter) Terranova landed in America in 1961, putting down roots in this storied section of The Bronx, where he swept floors at a local bakery. Fast forward six years, the owner wanted to sell, so Terranova seized the opportunity, and this Bronx bakery was born.
Today, Terranova Bakery is still family-owned, with Pietro and his wife Vera, his brother Gandolfo and his wife Mina, and their two sons running the business. The retail shop is located down the block from the original wholesale shop, stocking Pane de Casa–a crusty Italian bread–kalamata olive loaf, pizza bread (the crowd favorite), among other doughy delights.
Ask any local where they get their bread, and they may reply with one word: “Amy’s.”
Baking for New York since 1992, Amy Scherber creates the bakery’s bread recipes. She has a flair for combining unusual ingredients––the shop’s signature loaf is semolina with golden raisin and fennel. But you’ll also encounter black olive twists, challah, and country sourdough, all formulated sans additives or preservatives.
Amy’s first shop has been on Ninth Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen for 30 years, and the brand has grown to include stores and cafés in Chelsea Market, the New York Public Library, the New York Design Center, the Museum of the City of New York, and Brooklyn Heights.
Tracy Kaler is a freelance journalist focused on travel, food, wine, and design. She fell in love with New York as a child and began writing about the city when she moved there in 2007. When Tracy’s not glued to her laptop, she’s likely planning her next food-filled adventure, uncorking a bottle of red, or wandering the streets of NYC.