The Grand Rapids bakery scene is thriving, with places that have been around for generations, along with new kids on the block. Each has its own character, tried-and-true favorite goodies, and neighborhoods with which they are firmly entrenched. It’s time to head out on the town, in the early morning hours of Michigan’s second biggest city, and start tasting my way through the bakery scene.
Van’s Pastry Shoppe
As you approach the authentic Dutch bakery in the East Hills neighborhood, you will immediately feel like you have gone back in time. Fluorescent signage and a 1950’s style logo will greet you out front, while vintage automobiles, ceramic knick knacks, and hundreds of cookie jars lining the walls and windows await inside.
The family owned Van’s Pastry Shoppe has been making Dutch pastries and traditional bakery items dating back to the 1920s. While glancing at all the goodies within the glass cases, you will want to consider the sugar cinnamon bread, long johns topped with chocolate frosting, apple fritters, and the English muffin bread loafs. You will find everything to be fresh to go along with friendly service. The price of a cup of coffee and a doughnut speak of a time long ago.
Nantucket Baking Company
This Heritage Hill neighborhood stomping ground is known for their artisan breads, pastries, and gourmet pizzas. As you enter Nantucket Baking Company off Lyon Street, you will be greeted with large shelves and display cases filled with freshly made breads and pastries. Grab a fresh baguette to go as you get a pour of the freshly made local Rowster coffee. (We talked about Rowsters in our “Getting Caffeinated in Grand Rapids: Five Awesome Coffee Shops” article last year.)
You will receive friendly, knowledgeable service, and get bakery items made from only the freshest of ingredients. The scones and multigrain loafs come recommended. You can walk around the corner to their Union Street location to checkout their specialty pizzas, which many people purchase by the slice.
Wealthy Street Bakery
This bakery is an old city standby that sits on the street for which its named in the fast-growing East Hill neighborhood. Grab a specialty coffee made of Intelligentsia beans from their full espresso bar service, and read the newspaper as early at 6:30 a.m. In the seating area, the table tops actually have a newspaper theme to them.
As the morning moves on, more-and-more locals come into Wealthy Street Bakery to mingle and lines form outside the door to buy and enjoy the breads and other tasty treats. At the far righthand side of their display case sits the signature gluten-free cinnamon rolls, be sure to get to the bakery as soon as you can, as they fly off the shelves until they are gone! If you visit in the later in the morning or after, a made to order sandwich on French, sourdough, or wheat bread is definitely the way to go.
Upon entering the windmill shaped building off Wealthy Street, hand-crafted custom desserts and cakes, gourmet cupcakes, cake pops and more await. When viewing the displays for a grab-and-go purchase, make sure to check out the cupcake offerings. The Windmill cupcake is the go-to offered every day, a banana cupcake topped with chocolate and peanut butter. Other selections rotate in-and-out.
The Eastown neighborhood boutique bakery makes everything from fresh, all-natural and local ingredients. Custom orders for birthday parties, weddings, and other large events are available. That’s how The Cakabakery got its start back in 2010, opening their retail location just two years ago. Originality is the name of the game, you can get a cupcake flavor like the dark chocolate merlot that they made when they were featured on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.
If you’re ordering to-go take some time to hangout amongst the Dutch industrialist and baker friendly décor. As you enter The Cakabakery look behind you to find baking and cupcake pans hanging on the wall above the front door displayed as art.
Checkout more of what to expect when tasting your way through the Grand Rapids bakery scene:
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What other bakeries or places with bread and pastries in Grand Rapids would you recommend checking out?