By the time Mary and Michael Gassen opened Noe Valley Bakery on 24th Street in 1995, in a space that had been a bakery since 1908, most of San Francisco’s old-time bakeries were long gone. Fantasia Bakery in Laurel Village was one of the last, closing in 1989—its founder, Ernest Weil, was the original creator of Blum’s famed Coffee Crunch Cake.
The Gassens set out to recreate the full-line neighborhood bakery experience, where everything is made from scratch: bread, pastries, cookies, and cakes. Judging by the lines outside the doors at the Noe Valley and West Portal locations, they have wildly succeeded. They even added challah to their bread lineup, inspired by a customer’s request to recreate Fantasia’s loaf. Their Got Milk chocolate cake has been our go-to birthday cake for years. Countless slices of the Crusty White bread made their way into our kids’ brown bag lunches. Pit stops for a morning bun on the way to school. Thankfully the West Portal Merchants Association suggested the Gassens consider a West Portal branch, and it opened in 2017. Now the mini cupcakes (we’re most fond of the vanilla with sprinkles but the Mostest is a close second) are within convenient walking distance.
Most popular baked goods at West Portal?
The twice-baked almond croissant, cookies and mini cupcakes.
Eating Out West:
The Gassens like stepping in next door at Franco’s Latin Table for the pupusas and ceviche.
West Portal Needs?
A grocery store!
Noe Valley Bakery West Portal: 28 West Portal Ave. noevalleybakery.com