Vancouver’s Best Breads, Mapped

We spent many days over the last month revisiting our favourite Vancouver bakeries and cafes to pick out worthy loaves...
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Vancouver’s Best Breads, Mapped

We spent many days over the last month revisiting our favourite Vancouver bakeries and cafes to pick out worthy loaves for this map (which we encourage you to use on any and all future bread missions). Did we miss your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.

Batard Bakery
3958 Fraser St.

Try: Levain Noir ($6.50) | This standout from this French cafe/bakery in the Fraserhood is available Wednesday through Sunday. It has a deep, molasses-y flavour that pairs well with cheese and holds up to most soups. But take special note: If you happen to be on site when their Multigrain & Dried Fruit loaf ($6) makes an appearance (some weekends only) you’d be a fool not to leave without one of those too. This is one of the only bakeries in the city that offers half-loaves that are priced by weight – ideal for single bread-eating households or indecisive/disagreeable ones.

The Bench Bakehouse
1641 Commercial Dr.

Try: Cheese Twist ($6.75) | You’ll find this unassuming, still new-ish bakery tucked inside the Mercato just off of Commercial Drive. Their sourdough cheese “twist” is a loaf braided with cheddar cheese and olives or caramelized onions (depending on the day).

Beyond Bread
3686 West 4th Ave.

Try: Focaccia ($3.50-8) | Beyond Bread’s relationship with Brassneck might at first seem a bit “odd couple” (the brewery is one of their biggest accounts), but if you love bread and beer then this yeasty bond needs no explanation. In addition to baguettes and country loaves, Brassneck also stocks slices of focaccia, oily herbed and salted bread sponges. Of course, you can also snag the stuff from their Kitsilano bakery but there’s something charming about buying bread and beer on one tab, don’t you think?

Brassneck Brewery 2148 Main St. MAP

Bigsby the Bakehouse
4894 Mackenzie St.

Try: Sourdough ($6) | Their Kerrisdale location might be a bit of a destination for some, but Bigsby does do an amazing straight-up sourdough that can also be grabbed at Le Marche St. George if you get there early enough in the day (deliveries usually arrive around 10am).

Le Marche St. George 4393 St. George St. MAP

Fife Bakery
64 E 3rd Ave.

Try: Country loaf ($8) | The proliferation of Fife’s staple loaf at small/specialty grocers like Caffe La Tana, HOTRO and the August Market is no happy accident. They take a stubborn, slow approach to their craft using only sustainably grown and organic Canadian grains, and the city’s bread-heads have taken delicious note.


Flourist
3433 Commercial St.

Try: Pullman Loaf ($6-12) | After gaining wild popularity as a sporadic pop-up project, the local fresh milled flour and bean supplier finally opened its fully-fledged brick and mortar bakery this past summer. Probably the most people-pleasing bread of the bunch is their Pullman Loaf – a slightly sweet pull-apart pan loaf that is almost as enjoyable to rip up with your hands as it is to eat.


Livia
1399 Commercial Dr.

Try: Baguette ($3) | Livia’s bread window/wall is inarguably the most appealing in the biz. It’s also mighty tasty. Their chewy sourdough spindles are honed to near-deadly points – all the better to impale your hunger on! – and are almost as much fun to unravel as they are to stuff in your face. The cafe’s Italian loaf ($8) is also flaky and fluffy perfection, and the Specialty Sourdough ($8) has taken on some dreamy incarnations like Pumpkin Seed Polenta & Parmesan and Potato Rosemary, but is a potential heartbreaker since its flavour rotates daily.


Matchstick
639 East 15th Ave.

Try: Matchstick Rustic Country Loaf ($8) | When Matchstick’s sourdough program – developed by local cook/baker Annabelle Choi – kicked off several years ago, it was still a somewhat anomalous concept for Vancouver cafes. Although that’s changed enormously since, they’re still keeping it tight and sticking to just three solid to-go options – rustic country, seeded country and miche loaves (custom order only), baked daily at their Chinatown location.

Matchstick (Chinatown) 213 East Georgia St. MAP
Matchstick (Richards St.) 1328 Richards St. MAP
Matchstick (Main St.) 4807 Main St. MAP

Nelson The Seagull
315 Carrall St.

Try: Chocolate Sourdough ($10) | No joke, Nelson’s most decadent loaf is laced with cocoa powder and semisweet chocolate wafers. The price makes it a bit of a splurge but this a worthy indulgence.


Purebread
159 West Hastings St.

Try: Disfunctionale ($7.50) | Decision-making at Purebread is never easy, but maybe this will help slightly: Made with spent grain – a brewing byproduct from a local brewery – this loaf is chewy, slightly malty and eco-friendly!

Purebread (Mount Pleasant) 5 East 5th Ave. MAP
Purebread (Kitsilano) 2887 W. Broadway MAP

Prototype Coffee
883 East Hastings St. (Opening soon)

Try: Spinach Sourdough ($7.50) | Although procuring Ritchie’s more unusual breads requires a bit of logistical magic (she has an irregular Farmers Market schedule and occasionally does pop-ups) you can get her Country Loaf and other goodies from the new Prototype Cafe in Strathcona. If you do luck out, get the spinach sourdough. The small addition of rye flour adds an extra earthiness to the herbal and slightly sweet flavour of the dough. If you didn’t know it was loaded with spinach, then you’d probably think it tasted like sorcery…


Savary Island Pie Company
1533 Marine Dr.

Try: Italian Loaf ($11) | Savary Island’s Italian Loaf comes doused with a generous amount of oil and a decent sprinkling of rock salt so no additions are needed. On the opposite end of the bread scale – but all equally delicious – Savary’s Raisin Rye ($11) is super-raisiny and cake-like, and the Irish Soda Bread ($10.50) begs for a big bowl of soup. Can’t decide? Half loaves make it manageable to take home a sampling of all.


Small Victory
1088 Homer St.

Try: Porridge Loaf ($7.50) | There are a couple of bakeries I know of currently making their own interpretations of this style, but Small Victory’s wholesome hot cereal-inspired bread is the best among them. Their porridge loaf embodies the best parts of oatmeal without the sloppiness, including subtle flavours of nutmeg and cinnamon, plus a perfect ratio of walnuts-to-bread. Bonus: the nuts give off little purple halos that make for especially pretty slices.

Small Victory (Granville) 3070 Granville St. MAP

Terra Breads
1689 Johnston St.

Try: Green Olive with Sage & Black Pepper Fougasse ($5.95) | Terra Breads is a Vancouver institution, but for some reason this loaf doesn’t seem to ever get its due. The green olive flavour also comes in more plebeian shapes, but this extra crusty, chewy version is way tastier. “Fougasse” means “lattice” in Italian, and here it translates into a two-foot-long ladder shaped thing twinkling with rock salt. Basically, it’s an enormous pretzel. On the sweeter side, their Fig & Anise sourdough loaf ($5.95) is a fruit-and-spice epiphany. Also, that Walnut loaf!

Terra Breads (Olympic Village) 1605 Manitoba St. MAP
Terra Breads (Mount Pleasant) 53 West 5th Ave. MAP
Terra Breads (Kitsilano) 2380 West 4th Ave. MAP

Their There
2042 West 4th Ave.

Try: House Sourdough | A strong and innovative pastry selection has always been the MO at this cafe, but the introduction of a bread program might just clinch their status as a fantastic all-rounder in Kits. The house sourdough – made with 10% Anita’s whole wheat flour, 76% hydration and an 8-year-old starter – is a good introduction. Other experimentations have included fig & walnut and olive loaves, plus baguettes. So far, in-house pastry chef/baker Lucy Kirby’s rotating selection of sourdough loaves is available weekends-only.


Ubuntu Canteen
4194 Fraser St.

Try: Sesame & Oat Loaf ($7) | Myra Maston helms the bready side of things at this Fraserhood laboratory of deliciousness. The toasted sesame encrusted exterior of her sesame and oat loaf adds extra depth and ‘umami’ to the perfectly springy and moist sourdough inside. This is by far the best bread bargain in all of Vancouver.

There are 9 comments

  1. I agree with many of the above and wanted to also say Bravo to Bad Dog Bakery, McKay Avenue, North Vancouver

    *The most Incredible baguette outside of Paris!

  2. Although the list states “best breads in Vancouver, it is incomplete. There are many fabulous bakeries in the Lower Mainland that should be on this list and that are just as easy to get to.

    Savary Island Pie Company in West Vancouver. Bad Dog Bakery (listed above). Fieldstones in White Rock.

    If we are going to have a proper list of the best, INCLUDE the best of the best.

  3. you’ve compiled a great list!
    I’m a traditional style home bread maker and always appreciate a real good country style bread , there are at least 4 or 5 of them on your list of my favourites!

  4. Bad Dog Bread recently installed new flour milling equipment where they are processing BC grown organic grains. It is nice to see this small operation growing as it attracts customers who want high quality baking. My regular purchase is the multigrain loaf. The complex carbohydrates from whole grains make this a healthy choice. Tasty too.

  5. The BakeShop 4021 MacDonald Street.
    I recently picked up croissants and a loaf of bread from their stand at the Saturday Farmers’ Market. The croissants were the best I can remember ever having in Vancouver –and there are many top-drawer patissieries in the city. The bread was rustic and excellent. Now I have a tinge of regret for having moved from Vancouver to Victoria!

  6. Google Maps shows the BakeShop location as being closed. Hopefully, they are still selling at the markets.

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