Frisco Bakery: The Best Sourdough South of San Francisco

Frisco Bakery: The Best Sourdough South of San Francisco

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  1. As an itinerant world traveler (well, continental traveler; okay, okay… state traveler), I have made San Francisco a regular stop whenever passing through the western portion of Central California. Not for the scenery, or the history; not to tour Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, or even to browse The Cannery or Ghirardelli Square, but for the sourdough bread.


    (Okay, I have to back up a bit and modify a previous claim: I DO visit Fisherman’s Warf, but only because that’s where the Boudin Bakery is.)

    I could never leave San Francisco without purchasing a large round of sourdough from Boudin, along with a stick of butter and some grapes from anywhere, which I would proceed to devour while bucking a hasty retreat out of the city to wherever it was that I was going from there, because, frankly, I find San Francisco more than a little repulsive these days. You can only walk over so many passed out drunk bums in a day without getting sick of it.


    All my life, I have searched for some bakery that could make sourdough bread comparable to that sold in Boudin Bakery. I’ve tried hundreds of different labels, from San Diego to Seattle, and while I did find one bakery in Seattle that made good sourdough (on the Boudin 1-10 scale, it was about an 8), all the others lacked one key quality that should be a requirement if anyone is going to pass bread off as sourdough: sourness! Here in LA, the closest I found was Pioneer sourdough, with rates about a 3 on the Boudin scale, making it far superior to most of the "sourdoughs" I had tried.

    The hell of it was, years ago when there was a Gulliver’s Restaurant in Marina Del Rey, I used to go there regularly for their fabulous prime rib, and every meal was preceded with a loaf of truly excellent sourdough. Sometimes I would go in and pretend to peruse the menu while gratefully chowing down on the free bread, then bolt out of the restaurant without placing an order, full on the best sourdough I had had south of San Francisco. I begged the manager to tell me where they bought their bread, but he was one tight-lipped old cuss (probably because of all the bread I ate without ordering a meal). Gulliver’s secret remained safe from me… until recently.

    Over the years I wallowed in despair, certain that I would never find a bakery that could make a decent loaf of sourdough—at least not one within a reasonable drive of my home (and by "reasonable, I mean within 150 miles; yes, I am willing to go to far lengths for good bread). Finally, I gave up the search, resigning myself to having to settle for inferior bread for my sandwiches and snacking. But Fate has a way of butting in at the oddest times.


    My wife and I were driving toward San Fernando Road one day when, while preparing to make the turn from Avenue 26 onto San Fernando, an enormous silo fell into the road right in front of us. At first, I thought it was some industrial accident, but as I reached for the biohazard suit I always keep on the back seat, I saw a towering beast, a biped that lumbered along, devastating entire buildings with every step, then turning back to incinerate the crushed businesses with its fiery breath.

    It had been ages since I had seen Godzilla. After we exchanged a few pleasantries, he moved on. But as I prepared to blast a hole through the fallen silo with my always-handy bazooka, I noticed that the silo belonged to something called the Frisco Baking Company. With a name like that, I had to go inside, just on the off chance that they had sourdough that rated better than 3 on the Boudin scale. To my amazement and great joy, the smell of truly sour sourdough wafted through the front door of the bakery as I opened it. Floating a few inches above the floor with my toes waggling to give me meager propulsion, I glided to the counter and bought a loaf, tearing the plastic open on the spot and stuffing an end piece into my mouth.

    "Hallelujah!" I cried, scaring the crap out of the saleslady. "I have finally found you, my love, my one and only for evermore!"

    (At this point, my wife joined the saleslady in scowling at me.)

    Yes, it’s THAT good. On the Boudin scale, Frisco Baking Company’s sourdough rates a 9.5. It’s as close to perfection without having to travel to San Francisco as you can get. And really, who wants to travel to San Francisco, anyway?  

    The Frisco Baking Company mainly supplies bread to restaurants around the LA area. I have yet to ask, but I strongly suspect that Gulliver’s Restaurant is one of their customers… or was, depending on whether the remaining Gulliver’s in Irvine serves fantastic sourdough bread. The "store" portion of the bakery is tiny, handling no more than 4-5 customers at a time, but it’s rare that you’d have to wait in a line of any length. The bakery store closes early, at 3 PM every day except Sunday (when it closes at noon). This sounds like a short day for those who work there, but most bakeries do the majority of their work in the wee hours so their product will get to restaurants before they open for business. They also sell French bread loaves of various shapes and sizes, including rolls, as well as croutons for salad lovers. Keep in mind that the sourdough often sells out early, so don’t wait until 2:58 PM to buy your loaf.

    I am a hard sell when it comes to great sourdough, but I’m a pushover when compared to Godzilla. If you can’t trust my taste, trust the city-smashing monster’s.       



    Frisco Baking Company
    621 West Avenue 26
    Los Angeles, CA 90065

    (323) 225-6111

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