Best of the Bay 2012: BEST GOURGÉRES



We don't know what makes the clutch of cafes around Church and Market in SF so inviting — OK, we do: great service, good coffee, and a laidback, no-hurries vibe — but we find ourselves drawn here more often than not on those precious early mornings off. French bakery Thorough Bread and Pastry is one of those cafes, and although the punny name evinces a slight groan, the trés magnifique selection of authentic French pastries keeps us coming back for more. There are flaky croissants, of course, and fruit-laden tarts, dense and drenched baba au rhum and mint-kicky grasshopper cakes, wee sugar-dusted chouquettes and almond-brown butter financiers. And could anything be more perfect on a foggy morning than a small bag full of fresh-out-the-oven gougéres? The original cheesy puffs, these savory, bite-sized beauties (four for $1.50) instantly bring out the sunshine. Combine them with a steaming cup of coffee, s'il-vous plaît, and you've got breakfast pegged.

248 Church, SF. (415) 558-0690,