Fort Lauderdale and its neighboring cities are booming with mom-and-pop places offering plenty of good eats. Bakeries are no exception. Local shops offer everything from rich, buttery croissants and delicious vegan doughnuts to even a whimsical treat that resembles an adorable hamster. Check out these spots for Broward's sweetest delights:
1. Amarena Bakery & Bistro
Husband and wife Ariel and Daniela Oyarzabal opened Amarena Bakery & Bistro three months ago and already find their shelves empty by the end of the day. They aren't newbies in the biz, though, having run a successful bakery, also called Amarena, for eight years in Venezuela before they fled the country. "I woke up with the cold muzzle of a gun to my head," Ariel remembers. "They wanted to kidnap our young daughters. It was very intense." Two months later, the family had packed up and left, leaving their business behind and taking their baking expertise to Florida.
Ariel is Argentine, and Daniela is Venezuelan. The bakery is a reflection of both cultures. Find flaky Argentine empanadas ($2.50 each or $25 for a dozen) made from scratch daily in traditional flavors such as meat and chicken, along with more inventive takes like caprese. If you crave the Venezuelan ham bread cachito ($2.50), you'll find it here. There are also Argentine pastries, or facturas, for $1.15 each or $10 for a dozen. Amarena also offers savory breakfasts items, salads, and sandwiches.
4613 N. University Dr., Lauderhill; 954-908-1898.
2. Paris Morning Bakery
A Korean-French bakery, this quiet Davie spot offers an assortment of cakes, pastries, and doughnuts. Paris Morning also offers shaved ice, bubble tea, and coffee. Cakes are so pretty they look almost too good to eat and come in flavors such as fresh cream, mocha, and green tea. Prices range from $24 for a small to $32 for a large, or enjoy a slice for $5.79. There are plenty of breads and pastry items to choose from, all individually wrapped and displayed on tables as you walk in. Favorites include chestnut bread ($4.95), sweet potato bread ($2.45), and a red bean doughnut ($2.25). For cuteness overload, order the hamster bread ($2.99), made to look like a pet rodent and filled with sweet bean paste. Plans for locations in Boca and Doral are in the works.
4900 S. University Dr., Davie; 954-234-2838.
3. JW Pastry
Jonathan Grotsky boasts a loyal following built on his pastry expertise. A Culinary Institute of America-trained native New Yorker, Grotsky broke away from working at large hotels and restaurants to open JW Pastry in 2010. His forte — aside from killer croissants, apple-stuffed brioche, cookies, and danishes — is customer service. He is proud to say he built his business one client at a time, something he still enjoys doing at the numerous farmers' markets where he sells his pastries. When he's not setting up his stand and chatting with regulars, he's at his small shop in Davie, where you can enjoy an array of breakfast pastries ($2 to $4), cakes ($35 to $45), and artisanal-style breads ($4 to $6).
5665 S. University Dr., Davie; 954-251-4243.
4. La Bonne Adresse
While Emilie Van Steenwinckel makes exceptional chocolates, her brother Julien creates delicate French pastries at their Hollywood shop. Julien sticks to what he knows best: pâte à choux, a light pastry dough from which he produces a mouth-watering array of goodies, including ten flavors of éclairs ($5.95 each), pétits choux ($2.95 each), and chouquettes (60 cents each or 20 for $10).
2003 Harrison St., Hollywood; 954-927-6458.
5. Croissan'Time French Bakery
This Fort Lauderdale staple has been around since 1986, when it was opened by French pastry chef Bernard Casse. Start with its trademark flaky croissants: Plain and chocolate come in regular and jumbo ($2.20/$3.60). Filled croissants ($2.50/$3.75), such as almond cream, raspberry, and apricot custard, are addictive. If your timing is right, you'll see large bread trays wheeled out with a proper royal announcement of "Hot bread!" There's plenty to choose from, including traditional baguettes ($3.20); the crunchier epi loaf, also called "wheat stalk" bread because of its shape ($3.20); and specialty loaves such as honey bread, sourdough, and carrot bread ($7.15 each).
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1201 N. Federal Hwy., # 4A, Fort Lauderdale; 954-565-8555.
6. Parlour Vegan Bakery
Alejandra Miranda never intended to open a bakery, but when she turned vegan and couldn't find a cookie that satisfied her, she created her own. "I started baking for myself," she says. "When I make a recipe, it has to be the best of the best." Parlour Vegan Bakery offers cupcakes, cookies, bars, empanadas (sweet and savory), and gluten-free doughnuts and mini-cupcakes, starting at $3.95. On weekends during lunch, find hot-pressed vegan sandwiches ($12).
1487 S. University Dr., #3, Plantation; 954-533-7104.