For a city that’s weather forecast calls for 100 percent chance of skin year round, Miami’s dessert game is strong. You’ll find Cuban bakeries peddling pastelitos in neighborhoods beyond Little Havana, plus cupcakes and healthy-sweets shops sprinkled throughout the city, from Coral Gables to Hialeah. For the city’s best croissants, fresh bread and other irresistible treats, consult our guide to the best bakeries in Miami. For a caffeinated complement, grab your snack to go and visit one of the best coffee shops in Miami.
Best bakeries in Miami
Owner Naomi Harris has elevated the humble country loaf to something spectacular, and by her own hand: Most mornings she’s up milling organic whole grains into flour. Harris also uses natural fermentation processes to slowly leaven Madruga’s fresh breads. (On the menu you’ll find the types of grains she uses and from where they’re sourced.) The shop may have a fancy mill on the premises, but it’s the people, not machines, who make this place special. Even during the morning rush, when its irresistible bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches on onion poppy rolls are flying off the counter, service is speedy and pleasant. Celebrating a special occasion? Decorated cakes, like the addictive chocolate cake with whipped peanut-butter frosting, are available for pickup.
Fireman Derek has been in the pie-making business for nearly 20 years and it shows. The tart and creamy key lime, which he makes following a classic recipe (no sugar in the crust), flies off the shelves, as do his other “world-famous pies,” including the crack pie and salted caramel. Buy them whole or by the slice at this quaint corner shop, which also sells fresh-baked cookies, muffins and a variety of Panther coffee and espresso drinks.
You expect locals to know the ins and outs of a city, but in the case of Rosetta, it’s mostly tourists who are privy to this adorable South Beach bakery—in part because it’s on a quiet strip of Collins Avenue and surrounded by hotels. Once discovered, this Italian spot is an instant favorite. Hungry? Skip the small chalkboard menu near the register and peek through the glass display to see what’s available; typically, you’ll see mortadella sandwiches, fruit tarts and other pastries. First-timers needn’t look beyond the freshly baked stuffed focaccia—one with prosciutto and cheese—for a nourishing lunch that’s less than $10.
Zak [Stern] the baker has become the authority on all things bread in Miami. (ZTB, which you’ll see printed on many a menu in this city, is shorthand for “damn good bread.” Or at least it should be.) But his burgeoning cafe in Wynwood is serving more than delicious bread fresh from the oven. There are a variety of soups and sandwiches plus daily specials, which tend to be heartier than the standard menu items. Everything served is kosher, including the popular house toasts (avocado is both on trend and on point) and the simple, albeit spectacular, chocolate chip cookies. Stern has even taken on Cuban pastries, putting his own spin on the guava-and-cheese pastelito. Early this year, he opened a traditional Jewish deli down the street from the bakery.
Most people’s introduction to True Loaf is by way of its oversize croissants on sale at Panther Coffee locations all over town. But you’d be lucky to find any of the ham-and-cheese, almond- and chocolate-stuffed pastries on shelves past noon; they sell out almost as quickly as they’re delivered. Owner Tomas Strulovic can’t keep them stocked at his Sunset Harbour location either, despite the bakery’s myriad of other offerings on display in floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with chewy sourdough loaves, golden baguettes and more. Fans of True Loaf’s croissants often become regulars, adopting new favorites like cinnamon rolls and giant cookies (the oatmeal raisin is rich and dense). Swing by on Fridays to pick up freshly baked challah and be the hero at Shabbat dinner.
If you’re into reading labels, Bunnie Cakes is the ideal sweet spot. The vegan bakery serves cupcakes, cakes, brownies and doughnuts made from mostly organic ingredients. Plus, owner Mariana Cortez caters to clients with food allergies, offering a variety of gluten-free cupcakes in flavors like red velvet, vanilla and guava. The mini versions are the perfect, one-bite treats but there are also larger cupcakes and made-to-order cakes available for purchase.
This unassuming cafe is home to some of the best croissants on this side of the Atlantic, in part because the French staple can be ordered toasted. (Sorry, purists.) But if a hot, flaky almond croissant isn’t your thing, perhaps you’d prefer a strawberry Napoleon (Buena Vista Deli’s best-seller) or savory slice of quiche (we recommend the goat cheese and mushroom).
You can get Versailles’ pastelitos from the restaurant and its buzzing cafecito window (and even the Miami Airport), but the bakery next door (it connects through a rear dining room) is special in that it’s where you’ll find the Cuban outfit’s largest selection of pastries and pastelitos (guava, cheese, meat), as well as baked goods. Cakes in all sizes (as well as assorted mini desserts) are baked to order right on the premises. Service move quickly as an assembly line of women call your number, take your order (in español, por favor) and fire off white boxes filled with pastries to the register faster than you can finish your cafecito.
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/jpellgen
Good things come in small packages, as in Sweetness Bake Shop & Cafe’s specialty dessert shots. Whether you’re after key lime, cheesecake, flan or red velvet cake, you’ll find it here in a small shooter. Mini cupcakes are a hit with customers, too, especially the Guayabera (guava cake filled with guava marmalade and topped with cream cheese frosting) and booze-filled flavors, such as the Irish Car Bomb (a delicious combo of Guinness, Jameson whiskey and Baileys Irish Cream-infused ingredients). You can also get your hands on a hot cup of Panther coffee and made-to-order milkshakes mixed with your favorite cookie flavor.
For those days when you really want to “cheat” but don’t want to undo all of your hard work in the gym, Francesca Morello, whips up good-for-you desserts that are under 140 calories. Cupcakes, muffins, brownies and other treats are made using protein powder rather than traditional flour, sweetened with stevia and whipped up with coconut milk—resulting in gluten-free desserts that are low in carbs and sugar and high in protein. The menu has more than 40 cupcake flavors to choose from, with more constantly being added, plus a variety of doughnuts, truffles, cakes and cake pops that can be ordered in or delivered. CraveClean recently opened a second location in South Miami.