Though there's no signage yet, it's easy to find the place. Just follow your nose to the scent of freshly baked bread wafting though the neighborhood.
Zak the Baker's Wynwood Bakery & Café is a perfect addition to Wynwood. Once an industrial part of the city, this bakery with a seating area is one part café, three parts commercial kitchen. In the front, happy diners chat and eat open-faced sandwiches and soups at rustic tables set up with fresh flowers.
In the back is a busy bakery, where Zak Stern and his team mix dough and form loaves to sell. It's a labor of love, and it shows in the baked goods, which are displayed on the counter. Loaves are $6 each, and the day's offerings included a Jewish rye, a plum fennel and rye, and a country wheat.
The day's food offerings are listed on a chalkboard. There's a soup of the day, several sandwiches -- served open-faced and listed as "toasts" -- a salad, and some other bites. Everything is based on what's freshly available. What you won't find is meat -- Zak the Baker is strictly kosher, so the menu comprises dairy, vegetable, fish, and egg dishes. The menu is reminiscent of New York City dairy restaurants on the Lower East Side and the Garment District -- filled with tuna and creamy egg salad sandwiches -- all served open-faced.
On a recent afternoon, the café was lively with lunchtime activity. The staff was attentive even when busy, asking if my guest and I wanted an extra spoon to share the soup, and answering questions about the menu. It's a warm space filled with people passionate about what they're doing. Here's what we ordered:
Creamy potato leek soup ($7) was flavorful, with the right amount of seasoning. Served with two pieces of lightly toasted bread, it's a meal in itself.
A salad of heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil is drizzled with almond amaranth pesto and served with (of course) slices of bread ($8). My dining companion exclaimed, "The tomatoes taste like tomatoes!" As they should but rarely do. This salad is more rustic than the typical restaurant caprese offerings. The tomatoes and cheese are cut into chunks. Be sure to swirl it around, because the pesto is on the bottom of the dish (that's what the bread is there for).
Roasted beet and feta, served open-faced on toasted bread, is a tangy, refreshing alternative to a boring sandwich. At $6, it's a deal.
Herb cream cheese and 'Lil River veggie sandwich features cucumbers and colorful watermelon radish ($6).
While you're there, take home a loaf of this gorgeous Jewish rye ($6).
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Zak the Baker's café is open Sunday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It'll be your new favorite place for lunch in Wynwood. It's already mine.