While Los Gatos’ Manresa Bread is tucked away at the far end of North Santa Cruz Avenue in a quaint cottage-styled building, the Los Altos location features an impressive floor-to-ceiling glass entry way that makes the bakery’s minimalistic, modern design the focal point of downtown Los Altos’ State Street.
I was welcomed by an extensive display of golden-brown croissants, seed-studded loaves of bread and carefully decorated puff pastries upon entering Manresa’s Los Altos location, which also serves a range of Verve espresso drinks, teas and kombucha. This location features a self-serve shelf of daily breads near the front window, unlike the Los Gatos store that displays all goods behind a counter. This makes eyeing your favorite variety fairly easy from the street and prevents unnecessary foot traffic if certain breads are sold out.
I opted for the classic almond croissant ($5) and monkey bread ($4), both of which were phenomenal. The croissant had a flakey, buttery exterior with distinct layers of lamination in the puff pastry, and a rich but delicately balanced almond filling that was nutty and not too sweet. The monkey bread was expertly baked with just the right amount of cinnamon, and an almost chewy bottom crust that was caramelized with molasses.
I decided to go all-out at the Los Gatos location, which now has an espresso bar and indoor seating, and try the range of breads and baked goods still available around noon on a Saturday. While I didn’t get a chance to sample the full espresso bar—Aevan Balan joined the team as lead barista—the location had Verve nitro-charged cold brews ($5) that are pumped with nitrogen gas. The taste is beer-like, lightly carbonated with a creamy feel.
On the sweet side, I tried: a whole wheat chocolate chip cookie ($4), which was chewy and packed full of chocolate chunks; the gluten-free pistachio blackberry cake ($4), a delicate and light treat that balanced its sweetness out with fresh, tart blueberries; the pain au chocolat ($5), a sublime, melt-in-your-mouth take on the classic; and the kouign amann ($5), the crown jewel of Manresa’s list of skillfully crafted pastries.
Made by folding together dough between alternating layers of butter and sugar, this delectable treat is incredibly flakey and light on the outside with a chewy, caramelized interior. Manresa’s breads are also top-notch—do not overlook their sunflower seed and apricot loaf ($8), which was loaded with chunks of dried apricots, and the classic sourdough levain ($8), which paired beautifully with butter and jam.
While on the more expensive side, Manresa Bread’s goods are well worth their price in butter. In terms of consistency and taste, both locations deliver flawlessly. For ambiance, Los Altos’ newer location makes for an excellent spot to sit outside with a kouign amann and coffee, while the recently updated Los Gatos location now has 200 more square feet to enjoy before or after strolling the street and neighboring shops.
Pro tip: Manresa’s most popular treats tend to sell out early in the morning, so make sure to get there early when craving a specific snack.
276 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos
271 State St, Los Altos.