8 must-try Vancouver bakeries explained

Must-try bakeries when you're visiting Vancouver, BC

Hazelnut and nutella pop tarts at Tall Shadow Bakery in East Vancouver. Photo via Instagram.

It's obvious that Vancouver has an excellent food scene, but if you don't eat croissants and cream puffs daily like I do, you might not know that the level of baked goods in Vancouver is remarkably high too. 

There are several great pastry programs in the city like Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts and Pastry Training Centre of Vancouver, and Vancouver is home to the renowned Ecole Chocolat Professional School of Chocolate Arts, so perhaps that's part of the reason this coastal Canadian city has such high standards for all things baked.

Operating an independent bakery is a true labour of love. It requires (very) early mornings, long hours, and incredible precision—Have you tried kneading dough by hand?

The margins aren't that high when you're using premium ingredients either. These passionate pastry chefs and bakers do it because they're obsessed with their craft, to serve as a sweet spot of joy in our busy days and become part of our morning rituals and happy memories.

Here are eight amazing Vancouver bakeries that I think are a cut above the rest.

Beaucoup Bakery

I've been a fan of Beaucoup Bakery for nearly a decade. Owned by siblings and co-owners Betty and Jacky Hung, the duo recently opened a second location in the St. Regis Hotel in downtown Vancouver, which evokes a charming Parisian patisserie with sidewalk seating for people watching.

While their original Kitsilano storefront only had a few tables, the new location offers more seating and serves many of the same classics like croissants and kouign-amann that make Beaucoup so beloved. Of course, there’s plenty of new menu items like Parisian hot chocolate sets, chocolate bonbons, mendiants and a stunning pistachio raspberry dome cake.

My favourite treat is the salted chocolate rosemary cookie, and it is only available in Kitsilano.

Beaucoup Bakery is located at the St Regis Hotel, 600 Dunsmuir Street, with a second location in Kitsilano at 2150 Fir Street. The St. Regis Hotel location is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. Beaucoup's Kitsilano location is open from from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

Tall Shadow Bakery

Tall Shadow was a farmers’ market staple for their organic craft sourdough loaves before opening their first brick-and-mortar in East Vancouver this summer.

Bakers Cass Helps and Dayle Kennedy partnered with Miki Ellis and Stephen Whiteside (Dachi, Mucker Next Door) to open the sunny storefront, bringing on pastry chef Kiko Nakata (I still dream about her flaming cheesecake at Archer) to add nostalgic 90s treats like pop-tarts and cinnamon toast crunch cookies to the pastry case. There are bagels and housemade flavoured cream cheese too, along with espresso drinks by micro-roaster Modus and hojicha (Japanese green tea) lattes.

Don't you dare skip the light and fluffy cheesy jalapeño cornbread, lovingly wrapped in parchment paper and tied with a bow!

Tall Shadow Bakery is located at 2474 East Hastings Street and is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays to Sundays and closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Temper Chocolate & Pastry

The chocolate bars and bonbons here are good, but the pastries, cakes and entremets are where Food Network Canada star, chef/owner Stephen Hodge really shines at this West Vancouver bakery

His lamination game is strong and his glossy layered cakes ranging in flavors like mango caramel to raspberry dark chocolate and hazelnut dacquoise are truly works of art. Luckily they come in individual servings in the pastry cake with larger custom cakes available for pre-order.

Pro tip: pick up Temper's frozen croissants to take home. The directions are dummy-proof and arguably taste even better than fresh croissants at the  bakery when they proof naturally overnight.

Temper Chocolate & Pastry is located at 2409 Marine Drive and is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. 

Novella Coffee Bar

Part of the Published on Main family of award-winning restaurants including Bar Susu and Vignette, Novella Coffee Bar serves breakfast and pastries all day, then turns into a wine bar in the evening.

They make most of their own pastries in house, including miso caramel canelés and chrysanthemum chocolate cruffins supplemented with some items from local wholesaler Butterboom Bakery. Baker Sabrina Zoeller's  sourdough served with a generous swipe of cultured butter is killer, as are the house-made milk buns for their hearty breakfast sandwich with sausage, fried egg, hash browns and smoked cheddar.

Novella Coffee Bar is located at 2650 Main Street and is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Nemesis Coffee x Dope Bakehouse

Nemesis Coffee is arguably Vancouver's best coffee shop, roasting their own coffee beans from around the world for pour-over coffees and espresso-based drinks. Combine that with some of the best pastries in town and you'll understand why this is my favorite spot for coffee meetings and an excuse to inhale far too many carbs to start my day.

The anticipation builds as you watch pastry chefs piping whipped cream and placing the final freeze-dried strawberry touches on strawberry cheesecake croissants while waiting in line and you're not alone if you're frozen with indecision at the register because everything in the case looks so damn good. Dope Bakehouse is always experimenting with fanciful new flavors, like Banoffee pie cruffins, but the not-too-sweet tiramisu croissant, filled with mascarpone chiboust and espresso chantilly, is my go-to order.

Nemesis Coffee has three locations – at 302 West Hastings Street in Gastown, at the Polygon Gallery (101 Carrie Cates Court) in North Vancouver and at 555 Great Northern Way. The Gastown location is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily while the other two locations are open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

The Modern Pantry

Owner Kendall Parslow studied regenerative agriculture in Cuba and Italy, then worked at London's Borough Market, and she's bringing that same ethos of simple food made with high quality ingredients to her menu at The Modern Pantry.

Best sellers include the grilled cheese sandwich with house-made tomato jam on fresh baked sourdough and house-made dips like roasted beet hummus, caramelized onion feta and arugula pecan pesto served with slices of sourdough focaccia. Loaves of bread are available to-go along with danishes, pecan sticky buns, seasonal scones and lemon olive oil tarts from the pastry case.

The Modern Pantry is located at 2232 Marine Drive, Unit 102 in West Vancouver and open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

Bad Dog Bread

I first encountered Bad Dog Bread at the Lonsdale Artisan Farmers Market and was immediately hooked on their baguettes and sourdough. The satisfyingly crunchy crust gives way to a tangy, tender interior with a beautiful open crumb that's evidence of natural leavening and a long fermentation.

All of their bread is made with organic British Columbia grains milled on-site and they have a tiny blink-and-you'll-miss-it storefront just off Marine Drive in North Vancouver. Bad Dog makes pastries and cookies too, and will even do seasonal specials like hot cross buns for Easter and stollen for Christmas, but at the end of the day, you're here for the bread. You can also find Bad Dog Bread at local cafes in North Vancouver like Buddha-Full.

Bad Dog Bread is located at 1600 Mackay Road, North Vancouver and open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.

Little Fox Bakehouse

Located just five minutes from the Vancouver Airport in Richmond, tucked unassumingly into the President Plaza mall, Little Fox is truly a hidden gem. Owner Eric Ho switched from an engineering career to pastry a decade ago, and thank goodness for that.

Croissants are the star here, with more than a dozen different flavours available daily. Little Fox specializes in unique Asian flavours that you cannot find in croissant form anywhere else in town like black sesame mochi, matcha, double-baked salted egg yolk custard, bubble tea and pork floss. Ho uses Whisk premium matcha in all of his matcha creations and the matcha cream puffs are a sleeper hit.

Pick up a box of croissants on your way to the airport and you'll be the envy of everyone on your flight as you happily indulge in flaky, buttery heaven while your seatmates are relegated to pretzels.

Little Fox Bakehouse is located at 8181 Cambie Rd. # 1180, Richmond and is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.