In France, stopping at the boulangerie for a baguette is like hitting up your neighborhood Cuban café for a colada. It's a daily event.
The word baguette comes from the Latin word baculum, or "stick," and relates to the bread's long, narrow shape. Simple yet complex in taste, this traditional bread is not easy to make.
Though Miami is far from the streets of Paris, the Magic City actually has some tasty offerings. We've put together a list of the five best baguettes in town.
5. La Provence
Yes, La Provence is a chain, but that doesn't mean its bread isn't worthy of some love. Choose from the classic "rustique" (sourdough), whole wheat, or multigrain ($2.25). Dusted with a generous layer of flour, the bread here is sans preservatives, baked fresh daily (in Miami, but not in-house), and uses levain as a natural yeast. We like cutting the sourdough version into thick slices, toasting them, and adding Brie for a savory appetizer or snack.
4. Buena Vista Deli
On display above the counter, the baguettes at this deli/café/bakery are longer and wider than most and are by far the most attractive -- check out those beautiful indentations! The crust has a nice crackle, and the loaf doesn't lose its shape when squeezed. Made in-house, these are best eaten the day (or moment) they're bought. You can also get a fresh toasted baguette with butter and jelly off the menu ($2.50).
3. Le Royal
Le Royal's owner, Montpellier native Pascal, has developed quite the following at his South Miami bakery. The shop is tiny, but don't let that fool you -- the bread packs a powerful blend of freshness and crunch. The crust is light and thin, and the interior is doughy and fragrant. His customers rave about not only his baguettes (which are baked once in the morning and again at lunchtime) but also his cortaditos and French King cake.
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Beware: The line is usually out the door at this shop, which is located in a strip mall in Palmetto Bay. Trust us, though, it's totally worth your time. The baguettes ($2) here boast a crisp crust and an open crumb. They're baked twice daily except Saturdays, when they're baked three times. You'll often hear customers and staff speaking in French, making it feel like the real deal. We also recommend you try a French baguette sandwich complete with Dijon mustard, provolone, and turkey.
Though the Lincoln Road location's froufrou look might be off-putting, the baguettes here are hands down la crème de la crème. Originally a French family bakery founded in 1899, Paul uses an organic mix of Camp Rémy flour with added Atlantic sea salt and natural yeast, leaving munchers with a slightly nutty taste. On the outside, baguettes ($2.45) are crisp, crunchy, and dusted with a smooth layer of white flour. When squeezed, the crust crackles and after the first bite. We swear we heard Serge Gainsbourg crooning. The only problem: We wish we had bought two loaves instead of just one.