If you mention bakeries in San Francisco, sourdough bread immediately comes to mind - and with good reason. Sourdough bread is an institution in this city, with some bakeries using sourdough yeast as old as one hundred years. (Don't worry - it doesn't taste a hundred years.)
And while eating some sourdough bread (and possibly picking up a loaf at the airport to bring back home) is definitely a must, it would be a real shame if your only experience with bakeries is that memorable but, well, sour taste.
Our list below does include some classic sourdough staples, but we're balancing that with the sweet tastes that also abound in this city that loves to bake. Whether it's waiting in the long line at Tartine's for that perfect breakfast croissant, or indulging in Arizmendi's perfect pizza crust for lunch, nothing warms up a foggy San Francisco day better than hot baked treats straight out of the oven.
San Francisco has no end of fancy, sit-down restaurants, but sometimes what you need before (or after) that long hike in Muir Woods or up and down the hills of North Beach is something sweet and warm. And there's no better cure for homesickness while you're traveling than that comforting, universal smell of a bakery.