The pastries at this bakery, owned by a longtime Rainier Valley resident, are spectacular.
Numerous books and movies compare bakers and confectioners to wizards. Rainier Beach’s Beach Bakery, open since April in the old Colonial Pancake House lot, may well be the location for the next one. Everything is so good, there’s clearly magic afoot.
Owner and longtime Rainier Valley resident Amy O’Connell worked for Madison Park Bakery most recently; you’ll see her alternate between restocking the trays and stealing moments to welcome friends, family (her dad built much of the interior) and any number of regulars.
By your second visit, you’ll feel like a regular, too, as you recognize the tutor parked in the corner, the extended family spilled across two tables, the puppy getting squealed over on the patio and the rushed real-estate agent in to grab cookies for an open house. No surprise that the line can get long on weekends, notably before kids’ sports and after church, but use the pause to contemplate the soothing painting of butter hung on the south wall.
7820 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle (Rainier Beach); open Tuesday-Sunday 7 a.m.- 4 p.m.; 206-721-2225
The menu: It runs the gamut from Seattle-style seasonal fruit scones and muffins to European pastries like macarons, kouign amann (imagine a sugar-crusted, muffin-shaped croissant) and gâteau Basque (like a jam-filled, double-crust tart). The neighborhood’s diversity is on display via flavors and recipes, too: Filipino cassata cake might cozy up next to polvorónes (crumbly Mexican sugar cookies), matcha canelés or (for Pride weekend) a spectacular rainbow six-layer cake. There’s a two-page menu for compelling custom cakes, one of which (hat tip to the genius) involves popcorn. This is one of the few places to find organic Cascadia Chai thus far, and if you love chai you’ve lucked out. Both “spicy” and “sweet” varieties mean what they say; you can also order half-and-half if you want a bit of heat with your sweet.
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Don’t miss: The chocolate canelé is heavenly — a shattery-crisp exterior and a center like a milk-chocolate buttercream from a box of chocolates. Far more savory and every bit as delicious is the tender-crumbly biscuit sandwich, filled with roasted green chilies, scrambled egg and a melty pepperjack blanket. In the realm of cookie bars, Nanaimo and tahini pistachio (with a thick layer of bittersweet ganache) are spectacular and definitely sized for sharing.
What to skip: I’ll let you know when I find it. Believe me, I tried.
Prices: Gâteau Basque ($5), tahini pistachio bar ($2.75), quiche ($4.50), Nanaimo bar ($2.75), kouign amann ($3.25), cake slice of the day ($4.25), chocolate, vanilla and green tea canelés ($2 each), biscuit and waffle sandwiches ($5.50 each), chai ($3), and drip coffee ($1.75) came to $44.25 before tax and tip, enough for six indulgent friends.