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Tom Douglas on 3 Fantastic Bakeries: Tartine

Tartine San Francisco

Photos courtesy of Eric Wolfinger

But Tartine is probably best known for its country loaves: moist, medium- light French-style levain with a crispy crust.

Locale: 600 Guerrero St., tartinebakery.com

Dynamic duo: Husband and wife team Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt founded Tartine. She manages food service and pastry, while he’s all about the bread.

Their checkered past: Robertson and Prueitt met at the Culinary Institute of America in New York City. Both went through the culinary arts program—intending to be traditional chefs—then fell in love with pastry and each other. They took dual apprenticeships in France, then moved to the countryside north of San Francisco and built an elaborate wood-fired oven next to their house—selling organic baked goods to farmers and local markets. Eventually, they grew tired of the rural life. “We wanted to be around more people and get inspired by our chef friends,” Robertson says. So in 2002, they moved into the city and opened Tartine.

The environs: Located in the Misson District, Tartine is surrounded by bike shops, bookstores and cafés. Robertson calls this district the “Lower East Side” of San Francisco. Tartine is on the upscale end, selling $7 loaves of slow-raised sourdough, but thanks to residents willing to splurge and travelers who will drive 50 miles out of their way, the bakery is thriving. “You just can’t discount the energy of the place,” Tom Douglas says. The couple opened its companion—Bar Tartine, a full-service restaurant—two-and-a-half blocks away.

Get the real goods: Tartine workers bake in “real time” (rather than stocking up at 4 a.m. and selling until the shelves are bare): “Our goal is to have customers walking up to the counter all day, and everything they order is just coming off a hot tray.” Sweet favorites include brioche bread pudding, morning buns made with croissant dough and fresh fruit tarts. But Tartine is probably best known for its country loaves: moist, medium-light French-style levain with a crispy crust.

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