Tampa Bay’s bakery scene is booming: We’ve now got pastry popups opening brick-and-mortar businesses, gluten-free bakers shaking up the dough game and top-notch sourdough loaves and baguettes coming from Ybor City’s Jamison B. Breadhouse Bakes. The area boasts a rich historic bakery tradition, one that’s strongly rooted in our immigrant past. From Greek baklava in Tarpon Springs to beloved Tampa Cuban bread manufacturers, here are six of the most iconic Tampa Bay bakeries.
La Segunda Central Bakery
It can be daunting to be billed as the world’s largest producer of Cuban bread, but there is simply no place that does the tradition proud like Ybor’s trusty La Segunda. Opened in 1915, the family-run bakery is now four generations in the making, still churning out tens of thousands of the signature crusty loaves imprinted with palmetto fronds. The flagship Ybor location doesn’t have seating, but that hasn’t stopped crowds from queuing up daily for their cafe con leches and flaky guava and cheese turnovers.
2512 N 15th St., Ybor City; (813) 248-1531; lasegundabakery.com
Wright’s Gourmet House
Husband and wife Pete and Marjorie Wright opened what was then just a 500-square-foot coffee and dessert spot back in 1963. Since then, the popular bakery, deli and catering operation on S Dale Mabry Highway has gone through several expansions and renovations, including tripling the seating and creating a more efficient deli counter queue, which has helped speed up operations. The bakery offers signature “bucket bread” (round and quartered) sandwiches, including the Beef Martini, loaded with rare slices of tender roast beef, tangy mushrooms, crispy bacon and a schmear of garlic and herb butter. And if you’ve celebrated a birthday in the Tampa Bay area, you have probably encountered a Wright’s cake. The bakery is a go-to spot for house-made, three-layer round and sheet cakes, offered in more than a dozen flavors.
1200 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa; (813) 253-3838; wrightsgourmet.com
The large seafoam green sign beckons from blocks away, but not as strongly as the rows of tiered cakes and confections displayed in the window of this iconic West Tampa bakery. Italian immigrant Nicolo Alessi launched the operation in 1912 and the business is still family-owned, four generations later. It’s the place to go for specialty cakes, European-style confections (think Italian tea cookies and tiramisu) and all manner of pastries, like the sweet and flaky sfogiatelle and cronuts. And if you haven’t tried the creme brulee bread pudding yet, well, I highly recommend getting around to that very soon.
2909 W Cypress St., Tampa; (813) 879-4544; alessibakery.com
Mazzaro’s Italian Market
Opened in 1993, Mazzaro’s stocks fine European food products and gourmet goodies as far as the eye can see, in a yawning warehouselike space in St. Petersburg. While it can be easy to get stuck ogling the goods in the sprawling wine and cheese room, or at the always busy sandwich counter, the bakery shouldn’t be skipped. Stocked with Italian-style breads like ciabatta, semolina and focaccia, and sweet treats like eclairs, cannoli cakes and pignoli cookies, there are plenty of yeasty treats to love.
2909 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg; (727) 321-2400; mazzarosmarket.com
Since 1970, this restaurant, wholesaler and retail bakery has been an anchor in the Tarpon Springs Greek community. It’s the place to go for sesame-studded koulouri, spinach-filled spanakopita and tsoureki (traditional Greek Easter bread). For the sweet tooths out there, don’t skip the honey-laced baklava, melomakarona (spiced honey cookies) and cream-filled napoleons.
785 Dodecanese Blvd., Tarpon Springs; (727) 943-2400; hellasbakery.com
In the two decades since Kevin and Karyn Kruszewski opened this South Tampa bakery, a lot has changed: The business has moved, expanded and blossomed into a lively restaurant that’s seemingly packed at all times of the day. At nighttime, you can still belly up to the bar over a cucumber gimlet and an excellent burger, but the business’ original focus hasn’t waned: It’s still among the most reliable sources of artisanal breads and pastries. Cultivated with wild yeasts and poolish starters, the breads include chewy focaccia dotted with olive oil pockmarks, crusty French loaves and sourdough boules. Sweet quickbreads and pastries like scones, muffins, strudels and almond croissants are also hard to pass up.
3225 S MacDill Ave., Tampa; (813) 902-8828; panerusticabakery.com