A Bakery by the Beach Signals a New Dawn for San Diego Pastries

A Bakery by the Beach Signals a New Dawn for San Diego Pastries


Bites

Wayfarer Bread & Pastry offers stellar pastries — but also a creative savory menu.

Croissants are glazed and dusted with pistachio at Wayfarer Bread & Pastry in San Diego.CreditKai Diaz

Destination bread and pastries have been surprisingly elusive in San Diego, a city with access to stellar ingredients and international influences that aren’t beholden to rigid baking traditions. Now there is a destination, thanks to Crystal White and her new bakery, where a mural depicts the sunrise over a wheat field, signaling a new dawn for San Diego baking.

That shouldn’t come as a shock given her bona fides. The Napa native attended California’s Culinary Institute of America at Greystone and worked for highly respected Proof Bakery in Los Angeles and San Francisco’s famed Tartine Bakery, but always dreamed of opening her own bakery by the beach.

“After living in L.A. from 2010 to 2012, and seeing signs of that revival, I saw a lot of the same signs in San Diego,” Ms. White said. “It’s a ripe market and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Ms. White originally envisioned a basic bread and pastry window, but the space she found inspired something more substantial: Wayfarer Bread & Pastry opened in May in an airy space with a bustling patio in the sleepy Bird Rock neighborhood.

She trained with traditional Tartine baker Chad Robertson and fell for a “super dark, caramelized, crisp crust and custardy crumb.” Wayfarer’s mixed grains and fermentation process produce exactly that effect; the results are sourdough loaves and baguettes that are marvels.

Pastries are just as painstakingly produced, but with an added note of seasonal adventure. During a recent visit, flaky, pull-apart croissants include a version rolled with strawberry jam and pistachio butter; they were brushed with a buttermilk, cream, and sugar glaze before being showered with ground pistachios. Cream-filled, sugar coated morning buns cradled fruits like apricot and kumquat.

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A selection of pastries and breads at Wayfarer.CreditKai Diaz

Ms. White established a symbiotic relationship with Chino Farm, a local fixture that inspired chefs like Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck. The family farmstand sells Ms. White’s bread and supplies Wayfarer with produce. (Nopalito Farm and Stehly Farms are also trusted purveyors.)

When it comes to savory dishes, Wayfarer takes an unusual approach: Staffers write daily menus and release times on butcher paper (and post them as Instagram stories), including a stellar breakfast sandwich; my crusty griddled English muffin had great texture and contained a runny fried egg, fontina and Fra’ Mani ham.

Fantastic butter-brushed sourdough toast played host to medium-boiled egg with jammy consistency, molten Vella Dry Jack cheese and bright chopped basil, chives and dill. A sweeter toast slathered with honey vanilla mascarpone, juicy roasted nectarines and candied pistachios was just as satisfying.

Blanched green beans incorporated pungent gobs of Point Reyes blue cheese and crushed walnuts. Watermelon cubes with crumbled feta and chopped basil formed a more refreshing salad.

Grab-and-go sandwiches yielded mixed results; Tangy goat cheese and pesto melded nicely with roasted beet and carrot slabs between toasted sourdough, but a chewy buttered baguette dwarfed Fra’ Mani ham and roasted pencil asparagus, in an unbalanced ratio.

Of course, good pastries call for good coffee. Ironsmith Coffee Roasters in Encinitas hosted Sunday Wayfarer pop-ups while Ms. White scouted locations; the business now runs Wayfarer’s coffee bar, offering standout espresso drinks, cold brew, and one uniquely spicy pepper-dusted beverage that combines turmeric, ginger, coconut oil, honey and milk.

Wayfarer’s early success exceeded Ms. White’s wildest expectations. “I was told that people in San Diego didn’t care about good food,” she said. “I’m glad that I didn’t believe that.”


Wayfarer Bread & Pastry, 5525 La Jolla Boulevard; wayfarerbread.com. An average meal for two, without drinks or tip, is $40.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page TR7 of the New York edition with the headline: By the Beach, Savory Joins Forces With Sweet. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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