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A trip to the Windy City is almost always in order, especially now that they boast the world’s only “David Bowie Day.” From their spectacular museums and architecture to their sports teams and pizza, Chicago offers visitors a wealth of differing experiences that cater to a wide variety of people. But there is one aspect of Chicago that anyone can enjoy. Regardless of whether you’re a Bears fan or an art lover, everyone in Chicago has a great reason to get up in the morning: delectable pastries and other morning delicacies. If you needed another reason to take a trip to the shores of Lake Michigan, here are six bakeries that deserve your time and money.
1. Hellas Pastry Shop
This Greek pastry shop is a haven of traditional Greek tastes. Baklava, Honey Cookies, and Finikia cookies are just the tip of the iceberg. A Chicago staple since 1969, Hellas also features a tremendous spinach pie that has just the right amount of dill, ricotta, and sharp, salty feta. Owned and operated by a husband and wife team for the past 25 years, if you’re in the market for sweet or savory Greek pastries, there are few places that can compete with Hellas Pastry Shop.
2. Bang Bang Pie Shop
A pie shop whose owners believe that keeping things simple is the key to success, Bang Bang only serves a few pies at a time: a fruit pie, a chocolate pie, and a frozen pie. Because they’re able to focus on such a small menu each day, what they make tastes, looks, feels, and smells exceptional.
They also offer buttermilk biscuits that are otherworldly and are served with gravy or a variety of butters and jellies. Plan to sit down with a cup of coffee, biscuits and gravy, and a piece of pie for dessert, and you may consider moving to town, although resolving to keep your eye on fares at Flights.com for a quick weekend trip in the next month or so may also suffice.
3. Crumbs Bake Shop
With five locations in Chicago, you can easily run into a Crumbs Bake Shop on any number of expeditions in and around the city. This bake shop is known for their cupcakes but they do have other pastries and baked goods. The sheer variety of offerings is enough to leave you speechless, even before you get a bite of one of them in your mouth.
Cappuccino, Chocolate Pecan Pie, Dulce de Leche, Caramel Apple, Peanut Butter Cup, and more — the list numbers over 70. Your best bet is to always enter a Crumbs with a companion, so you can split two cupcakes, which means you could work your way through the entire menu in less than 40 visits — a more than worthy goal.
4. Vanille Patisserie
A true French bakery, Vanille Patisserie bakes all the traditional French pastries that you long for on dreary days and while watching old movies. Chocolate éclairs compete with tender, buttery croissants for your attention and dollars. The Vanille — a coconut cake wrapped in white chocolate mousse and topped with vanilla bean cream and a delicious coulis — begs to be your next meal. No matter what kind of French treat you need, you can find it and love it at Vanille.
Bake is the brainchild of two Chicagoans with more than 30 years’ combined bakery experience, who wanted to provide the best in American-style pastries and desserts. Giant muffins, scones, banana nut bread, cookies, cupcakes, pumpkin spice bread, and apple pie — if you ever ate it at a church potluck or a school bake sale, you’ll find it at Bake, and it will taste infinitely better.
6. Molly’s Cupcakes
Just like the name implies, this shop specializes in cupcakes. Made each day from scratch, a Molly’s cupcake is a fully customizable experience. Choose your cupcake flavor; select a frosting, and then, pile on a variety of toppings. Watch as it bakes right in front of you, and if you didn’t order the center-filled kind your first time, order a second. If you’re someone who doesn’t like being inundated with too many options on your first trip into a new place, go with one of their signature cupcakes like Blueberry Cheesecake or Boston Cream.
Polish off your love for baked goods, and plan a trip to Chi-Town. While the museums and sports teams may be the reason you claim to love this town, after a trip to a few of these bakeries, the treats that await you will be the reason you keep coming back.