This is another story of my coffee addiction fueling a new bakery addiction. One of my favorite San Francisco coffee shops is this little place called Contraband. It’s in a cozy corner of Nob Hill, and it’s the type of place that just oozes a community vibe. It’s small, but always feels lively, and has huge windows bringing in some of the city atmosphere. My boyfriend and I spend quite a bit of time there- in fact, I’m nursing their delicious Black Market blend right now.
A year or so ago I tried one of their pastries and was so wowed by it, I immediately asked where it came from. It was this delicious savory tart, with the perfect blend of vegetables and cheese on top. They told me it came from a place called Neighbor Bakehouse in the Dogpatch neighborhood. I added Neighbor to my San Francisco “to do” list… but somehow never made it there. Fast forward to last year, when I moved closer to Contraband and started going there more. My boyfriend has gotten hooked on their ham and cheese morning bun, while I’m hooked on seasonal iterations of that delicious savory tart. And so last week we decided it was time to right a wrong, and finally made it to Neighbor.
We planned an entire Sunday Funday, with Neighbor slotted as the first stop. Between us, we got 5 different things: the Everything Croissant, the Twice-Baked Pistachio Blackberry Croissant, the Ginger Pull-Apart, the Mushroom Tart, and a croissant that had smoked trout/cream cheese inside. Yes, 5 pastries for 2 of us- we’re such diligent researchers!
We thought everything was wonderful, but we did have some favorites. My favorite was definitely the Pistachio Croissant. It had this great crunchy texture on the outside, but perfect buttery layers on the inside. Most nut croissants have pastry cream inside, so I expected a pistachio cream but was actually pleasantly surprised to find that the filling was more like a paste. The employee we spoke to explained that they mix the pistachio cream with a type of flour, so it creates a distinct texture. They then lather in blackberry jam, too. It is the perfect treat: a standout croissant plus this unique blend of nut flavor and fruit flavor. We couldn’t stop raving about it the whole day after we finished!
My boyfriend’s favorite was his Mushroom Tart. Neighbor does base doughs so well. And while that may sound like a given to you, it isn’t- a lot of bakeries disguise mediocre base doughs with lots of add-ins or other flavors. You can taste the quality in these pastries, because every bite tastes outstanding. Whether you get a bite with Mushrooms or just the pastry base, it wows you. I realize this sounds very hyperbolic but trust me- you have to try their flaky doughs to see what I mean. I think I liked it more than Arcade in NYC, actually.
After finishing our pastries, we walked 5 miles wandering around San Francisco. Let’s just say that makes up for eating 5 pastries, ok?
If you’re ever in SF, I recommend checking out Neighbor. Make sure to plan ahead: they’re only open Wednesday-Sunday, and they close by noon. Their space is more bakery than cafe, so they only have benches outdoors rather than indoor seating. We enjoyed sitting there on a lovely SF morning, and found it very relaxing. Neighbor is actually really accessible by car and transit here, so if you’re visiting, you could definitely make it work. I suggest going there for an early breakfast, and then spending some time exploring the pleasant residential/commercial streets nearby. You can also walk all the way north on 3rd until you hit the ballpark; then take Embarcadero the rest the way up toward downtown. By the time you get to Market Street you’ll be ready for lunch- and then the goodies at the Ferry Building are perfectly positioned for your next meal!
We will definitely head back to Neighbor to try more of their great assortment of savory and sweet items. In the meantime, since we couldn’t make it there today… we got a morning bun and croissant at Contraband! The combo of Neighbor pastries and Contraband coffee is a marvelous way to start your day.
Info: Neighbor Bakehouse, 2343 3rd St. San Francisco, CA 94107
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 6:30 AM – 12 PM
Fun facts: If you’re worried they will run out of something specific- order ahead. You can email orders of any size to pick up, as long as you give 72 hours notice. We didn’t end up doing this but I did consider it since I really wanted to try that Pistachio Croissant!