Portland Guide to Sweet Shops, Pastries, and Chocolate. Part 1

(last update: 3.14)

Part one A through M. Part two is here

Portland is well-known for great beers, coffee, and quality European style artisan breads, yet we also boast a very large choice of sweet shops, patisseries, chocolate purveyors and chocolatiers. For visitors or locals, here is our guide. Although this list doesn’t include everyone in the Yellow Pages, it does cover many of the more popular spots. If we’ve missed your favorite, let us know and we’ll investigate, and add them to future updates. We aren’t focusing on ice-cream shops or bread bakeries here, we’ll save those for another time.

Alma Chocolate

Alma Chocolates

In the past five years of business, chocolatier Sarah Hart, who started from a small table at the Farmers Market, has become what French Elle Magazine named as ‘one of the Up and Coming Young Chocolatiers in the United States’. You can read the Portland Food and Drink interview with Sarah here. Alma’s signature icons, made from solid, dark single origin chocolates, in shapes such as traditional South American religious figures, the Hand of Fatima, and even an anatomically correct heart, are all dusted with edible gold. Dozens of bon-bons in creative flavors include a spicy Thai Peanut Butter Cup (one of my favorites), Salted Lavender Caramel, and a Chèvre and Black Pepper covered in dark ganache. Other items include toffee, barks and house-made candy bars. Mail order chocolates are available online, while the storefront features a small café with espresso drinks, hot chocolate, and homemade cookies and cakes. A rotating selection of local art for sale graces the walls, while chocolates from smaller chocolate makers (such as Portland based Lulu’s Raw Chocolate Alchemy) are also available.

Bakeshop

Bakeshop peeps

Bakeshop, which opened in early 2012, is owned by Kim Boyce, of the James Beard Award winning cookbook, Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours. She worked for years with Nancy Silverton, founder of Campanile and La Brea Bakery. Bakeshop has a growing following for their seasonal pastries, specialty items. and wholesale products.

Baker and Spice

A successful bakery in the suburbs-meet-the-city Hillsdale area, Baker and Spice is one of the most popular bakeries in suburbs of SW Portland . You can read Portland Food and Drink’s extensive write-up Baker and Spice here.

Bakery Bar

Bakery Bar

The Bakery Bar is best known for their whimsical, yet modern cakes. This is the place to go if you want a formal, tiered, lemon-poppy seed wedding cake, decorated with old school tattoo designs, or a banana-bourbon cake, designed in the form of a circus tent. Yet Bakery Bar also makes small pastries, including cupcakes, several flavors of scones (the fennel-golden raisin is a favorite), delicate cookies, tarts and the like in upscale flavors. A recent menu sample included Earl Grey tea shortbread, Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Toffee Blondies, and coconut crème puffs. They’ve even started dabbling in the ice-cream business, creating items like house-made chai ice cream sandwiched between Chocolate Crackle cookies. Both shop locations are also full cafés serving soups, sandwiches and espresso, while the NE Glisan St. location will soon serve an array of beer, wine and cocktails.

Cacao

Cacao – Sahagun Bark

One of Portland’s most extensive and knowledgeable chocolate shops, Cacao rivals the best of the best. We’ve waxed poetic about the wonders of Cacao before, and even the NY Times has taken note, calling Cacao “…where chocolate prêt-à-porter meets chocolate haute couture…”. With chocolates from some of the world’s leading chocolate makers, such as Vosges, Fran’s, and Cafe Tasse, alongside up-and-coming locals such as Xocolatl de David, it’s hard to disagree. The jewel case near the front counter features a rotating selection of individual pieces, while tables and shelves are stacked with bars of all sorts. The staff is knowledgeable, and can help pair you with a chocolate for your taste buds, or they will find absolutely the right chocolate for use in a specific dessert. Cacao is also a café worth lingering in. Their selection of thick European style drinking chocolates comes in your choice of traditional dark chocolate, a spiced version, or a lighter type. They are a decadent but affordable pick-me up, at less than $3.00 for a small, but very filling cup. Mail order is available by phone or email.

 

Crema

This café/bakery is almost always busy. It’s gone through a few changes over the years, but continues to provide a bevy of house-made baked goods. It’s a large, bright and cavernous space that can also be painfully loud at times, but no matter. When the weather is fine the large garage doors open to the street, reminding Portlanders why we put up with 6 months worth of gray and rain each year. Expect scones, croissants and other breakfast type pastries, alongside cheddar corn biscuits, bread puddings, and a very popular chocolate bread.

Cupcake Jones

Cupcake Jones

Cupcakes! Located in Portland’s Pearl District, specialties include items such as the Velvet Painting – white velvet cake filled with vanilla bean pastry cream, topped with vanilla bean butter cream icing and a white chocolate pearl, or the Downtown Cupcake Brown – devil’s food cake filled with sour cream chocolate ganache, topped with fresh grated dark chocolate.

JaCivas

JaCivas is one of Portland’s older gourmet pastry and chocolate shops, and for many Portland families, this is still the de facto place to go for birthday or wedding cakes, and other special occasion treats. Napoleons, chocolate lava cakes and tortes sit alongside handmade chocolates, including candied and dipped orange peels, various flavored truffles, and all kinds of bon-bons.

Ken’s Artisan Bakery

Ken’s Artisan Bakery

Known mostly for their artisan breads, Ken’s also makes a variety of pastries. Mostly in the French tradition, expect things like croissants, cannelés, brightly-colored macaroons, and seasonal fruit tarts. American-style baked goods include pound cakes, Valrhona chocolate chip cookies, and flaky, sweet, orange Morning Buns. This café is a popular spot on bustling NW 21st. Expect long lines and hectic service during the morning rush and especially on the weekends.

Little T Bakery


A newcomer to the pastry scene, this café/bakery opened in June 2008 and has already gained a legion of fans for their French baguettes, other breads, and pastries. I’ll just let a sample of their menu do the talking:

SWEET

Stumptown mocha chew cookie

spiced walnut brownie

orange date bar

pound cake

prune cognac tart

salted caramel cream puff

shortbread ganache sandwich cookies

BREAKFAST

croissant

chocolate praline croissant

fresh fruit turnover (currently pippin apples)

orangiata (citrus brioche with grand marnier)

oat + date scone

baked currant doughnut

cranberrry crumb cake

banana bread

drop biscuit with lemon curd

See what I mean? Just get over there and try them for yourself.


Lovejoy Bakers

Chocolate Chip Cookies at Lovejoy Bakers

A recent post on the Lovejoy Bakers Blog read, “Light, Airy, Buttery, Goodness.” Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Baked in the Viennoiserie style, this means baked goods here are in the classic patisserie tradition of feather-light croissants, creamy éclairs, and a very addictive hazelnut caramel tart. Scones are textbook British with the addition of things like crystallized ginger or dates. American treats include rich moist coffee cakes, muffins, and Walnut Cinnamon Gooey-Buns. This is also a full service café serving breakfast and lunch alongside espresso and coffee.

The Meadow

Salted Chocolate – Iburi Jio Cherrywood Roasted Salt

Although internationally known for their large choice of specialty salts, The Meadow is also florist, wine and gift shop combined, and carries a fine selection of chocolates. A wide variety of international and domestic artisan producers are available, including several local chocolatiers such as Sahagún. They also carry caramels, and have launched their own line of different flavored salted chocolates, such as Iburi Jio Cherrywood Roasted Salt on 75% São Tomé dark chocolate, or another covered in Moshio Seaweed Salt. Mail Order Available Online.

Moonstruck Chocolate Co.

Moonstruck Chocolate “Sheepish Grin”

Before terms like Cacao Percentage or Nibs made it into Portland’s culinary vocabulary, there was Moonstruck. Moonstruck began in the early part of the 1990s chocolate truffle craze, and has continued to expand into the Portland area. Making “Oprah’s Favorite Things” list, has increased their popularity even more. The chocolates are high quality; but don’t expect bitter-sweet single-origin dark chocolates here. This is the place to go for smooth and sugary truffles made with a wallop of local Clear Creek Pear Brandy, Bunny shaped milk chocolate versions with almond “ears”, or the Wild Huckleberry – a milk chocolate shell stuffed with white chocolate ganache and huckleberry preserves. Moonstruck also makes a few solid bars and caramels, and a variety of “goo-goo clusters” with nuts, creamy caramel and chocolate shells. The store locations serve coffee, hot chocolates and some specialty drinks such as chocolate-chai. Note: the flagship downtown store on SW Alder is not for the claustrophobic. The customer area is only about 10 feet long x 6 feet wide, making it a mad house if more than three people are there at the same time. Mail Order Available Online.

Click here for part two!

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. Jakki says

    fantastic post…I know most but still good…..try hunting up the less glam bakeries…isn’t there a place called “Sweetness” on nasty ol Foster/Powell area….and what about the GREAT Vietnamese bakeries popping up all over town…..

  2. Cuisine Bonne Femme says

    Great idea people: Asian Bakeries. I’ll add that (and the other recommendations to the list). It might take me a while to do Asian bakeries though. Any particular ones stand out?

  3. extramsg says

    Hey, CBF, we must have been on a similar wavelength, because I recently redid my site just so that I could put out another chocolate survey with all the new chocolatiers in town. Just published it today. I think it will fill in some of the blanks in your report — at least as far as chocolatiers go, coupled with previous year’s reports.

    http://extramsg.com/portland-food/portland-chocolates-part-4-cocoa-velvet-couronne-ladybug-missionary-northwest-sweets-xocolatl-cocanu/

    • pdxyogi says

      You’re recommending chocolates you’ve never tried (and yes I’ve had them all)?

      I’ll take freshly handmade local Sahagun or Alma chocolates over these any day of the week.

  4. paul says

    Speaking of Pastries, does anybody know where a Polish kid from the Midwest could score some Paczki (Polish Pastry) on Tuesday? Paczki Day (Fat Tuesday) is huge where I come from, and I haven’t been able to locate a source since I’ve moved here. Does anybody think any of the local bakeries in town would be able to come through if I put a special order in? Thanks! :)

    • Bertha says

      Paul…you could try Krakow Cafe on Interstate…or the restaurant in the Polish church, that’s only open weekends, I think it’s called Grandpa’s …or maybe the Eurodish cart on SW 9th and SW Alder.

  5. Erin says

    Fleur de Lys in the Hollywood District makes fantastic pastries and cookies. I think their cinnamon rolls are some of the best in the city.

  6. Stephanie says

    This is a great list! Portland is fortunate to have so many delicious options – sometimes I forget how many great places there are to explore.

    One addition to mention – Sweet Masterpieces on 10th and Davis in the Pearl. I think this place is off the general radar, but they have AMAZING truffles and caramels that are definitely worth checking out.

  7. shanmugam says

    Nice post… Specially the the cupcake is a good choice of us. Chocolate is a great energitic snacks but cakes are really a good foood

  8. Cuisine Bonne Femme says

    Thanks for all the comments and suggestions…oopsie, looks like we did indeed forget a few. I’ll add those as an updated post asap, and look for our Part 2 N-Z next month. I’m telling you, I got in the weeds with this one. There are so many terrific bakeries, chocolatiers and sweet shops it’s hard to keep up with them all! I guess that’s a good thing for Portland eaters, but it makes it hard for us writers.

    • Joanna says

      Martyn: Try Barbur Foods in SW Portland – they make pitas in a wood oven, plus flatbread “pizzas” topped with za’atar, etc. http://www.barburworldfoods.com/
      They also serve these things at Ya Hala (SE Stark), Nicholas'(SE Grand) and Hoda’s (SE Belmont).

      Good luck…

  9. Sylvia says

    I think it’s neat to get chocolate with gold leaf paint! My mother brought me some back from Portland when I was a child and I never forgot about it.. It’s awesome.
    -Sylvia

  10. Jen says

    I love this list. There is one I would TOTALLY add, Enchante on Main St. in downtown Milwaukie. He makes ALL of his chocolate caramel and AHHHH-mazing whir chocolate popcorn that ALWAYS sells out during the holidays. They have such a variety, something sure to please everyone.

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