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October 07, 2015

Loafing around: Five great bread bakeries in Philadelphia

Where to find the city's best artisanal breads

Bakeries Bread
100415_BakerStBread Contributed Art/Baker Street Bread

Loaves in the oven at Baker Street Bread.

Carbohydrates often get a bad rap as diet-breaking comfort consumption, mistakenly labeled as empty calories, yet life without them, even in moderation, can be pretty bleak.

Great bread is crucial to the construction of any memorable sandwich. It's an enhancement to every soup, a home for every spread and a perfect artisanal complement to any meal.

You never want to find yourself resorting to this kind of thuggish move, so here are five great spots in Philly to venture beyond the supermarket for the finest loaves of bread.

Le Bus Bakery

129 South 18th Street

Onion, leek and cheese focaccia from LeBus Bakery. (Contributed Art/LeBus Bakery)

Founded out of a school bus in 1978, David Braverman created LeBus as a place for University of Pennsylvania students to get quick, homestyle meals. After traveling around the United States and Europe, Braverman brought his extensive knowledge and emphasis on the finest, freshest ingredients to Philadelphia.

LeBus offers just about every kind of bread you might want – from baguettes to dinner rolls – but the table breads are top-notch. LeBus offers several varieties of Italian bread, Challah, Focaccia, and fruit & nut breads, including sundried tomato, pumpkin seed, olive cilantro, and raisin walnut.

Sarcone's Bakery

758 South 9th Street

High bread from Sarcone's Bakery. (Contributed Art/Sarcone's Bakery)

The resilient Sarcone's Bakery dates back five generations to 1918, selling excellent breads though two World Wars, the Great Depression, multiple recessions and a fire in 2000 that closed the shop for less than 24 hours.

Specializing in Italian breads, Sarcone's is known for its stuck bread, high and flat bread, spullets, onion bread, and garlic bread.

Le Pain Quotidien

1425 Walnut Street

Wheat bread from Le Pain Quotidien. (Contributed Art/Le Pain Quotidien)

Located right near Rittenhouse Square, Le Pain Quotidien ("The Daily Bread") views its staple product as a way of life. In plain view of customers, the shop's bakers work with a wide blend of organic and seasonal ingredients. With a focus on cultivating a communal atmosphere, the bakery also boasts a full menu of taritines, salads, charcuterie and organic wines.

As for the bread, Le Pain Quotidien offers the finest wheat, rye, walnut and 5-grain loaves in town. And if, after seeing the masters at work, you want to get in on the act yourself, the shop offers classes to learn artisanal methods and recipes.

Four Worlds Bakery

4634 Woodland Avenue

Customers watch as bread is sliced at Four Worlds Bakery. (Albert Yee/Four Worlds Bakery)

Specializing in sourdough breads made with freshly milled whole grains, Head Baker Michael Dolich launched Four Worlds with a firm foot in the artisanal tradition. Head Baker Michael Dolich and his team are constantly refining their process to produce subtle differences and specials from week to week.

From cranberry walnut to egg challah, olive rosemary and pan levain, Four World Bakery offers a can't-miss selection of locally produced products.

Baker Street Bread

8009 Germantown Avenue

Loaves on the shelves of Baker Street Bread. (Contributed Art/Baker Street Bread). 

For the comprehensive selection of breads, Baker Street Bread in Chestnut Hill is second to none. Yes, this is your spot to get the last marble rye. Even if they run out, you can always audible to pumpernickel or select from a menu of artisan loaves including sourdough, multi-grain, sesame honey and French boule, among many others.