A bright, sunlit space filled with the fragrance of strong coffee and the rich butteriness of pastries fresh out of the oven, Tartine Bakery’s newest location is a warm and inviting gem amidst the fast pace of the heart of Berkeley. Tartine — hailed as a pioneer in American baking by sources from the New York Times to Bon Appétit — just opened its youngest bakery, cozily nestled in the Graduate Berkeley, an old boutique hotel on Durant Avenue within walking distance of Berkeley High School (BHS).
Tartine founders Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt set out with a mission of bringing bread to California through a combination of traditional techniques and the creative exploration of new methods. Today, Tartine continues this mission in ten bakeries across the world, from Los Angeles to Seoul, San Francisco, and now Berkeley.
The bakery’s cafe offers a variety of drinks, from espressos and cappuccinos to cold brews and hot chocolate. More importantly, the bakery sells what Tartine is internationally renowned for: wood fired brick oven loaves that are dark and crisp on the outside while still being airy and open crumbed on the inside. Tartine bread is like no other, and often sells out before the end of the day.
Without giving away any trade secrets, Vanessa Tom, who works in management at Tartine Berkeley, revealed that the key to why Tartine bread is so special lies within the origin of the ingredients. With the exception of their flour, all of the ingredients are locally sourced, from fresh produce to butter from local farms. “Everything is organic, and you can definitely taste the difference,” Tom explained.
Tartine Berkeley has a clean and modern atmosphere, but the space is brought to life by the bustle of customers and bakers who are constantly making batches and batches of pastries.
Tartine offers the standard pastry fare, but what truly sets these pastries apart from the norm is the way they are baked to a rare perfection: the croissants are incredibly flaky, buttery, and rich while still being airy. In addition, Tartine sells its own more unusual creations. Above all, Tom claimed that the banana cream tart is an absolute must have, but it is so popular that it often sells out too soon for most customers.
Tartine’s pastries are all baked on-site. “We make batches all throughout the day, so there’s a very good chance that you’re eating something that just left the oven, or was made at most 1.5 hours earlier,” Tom said.
This is Tartine’s first East Bay location. “Berkeley is untouched, so I thought it would be a good idea to come out here,” Tom said. She said they were also motivated by loyalty to its East Bay fans. Amber Cota, a Berkeley resident, was a long time fan of the San Francisco locations. Cota said she is glad that she does not have to travel as far to find the delicious pastries, which were what kept her coming in the first place.
Being close to the university, Tom said that the bakery primarily serves students, but often receives hotel guests, from lecturers to musicians performing at the Greek Theater. Sophia Alvoeiro, a student at Berkeley, was drawn to Tartine by the excitement of exploring something new. “It’s a place I hadn’t tried before, and everything tastes great!” said Alvoeiro.
Next time you are in need of a snack in the form of a frangipane croissant or a banana cream tart, make sure to stop by Tartine, just a walk away!