I’ve heard scores of out of towners, upon moving to Chicago, gush about the great restaurants, the cocktail scene, and the abundance of farmers markets — and then quietly complain about the seeming lack of great bakeries in town. And honestly, with some notable exceptions (hello, Floriole, we love you) I can’t say I disagree with them. Luckily, that’s rapidly changing, and two new bakeries are leading the (dough) pack.

Hewn’s Second Location

For any bread nerd in the Chicagoland area, a drive up to Evanston to go to Hewn has been a regular ritual for years. So regular, in fact, that at their original (tiny) location, there were often lines out the door and popular types sold out quickly on a daily basis. At the beginning of 2020, Hewn thankfully moved to a larger space (with Village Farmstand taking over their old location). Thanks to a lot of hard work and creativity, the bakery made it through pandemic even though they lost most of their restaurant clients. Now, there’s more great news: the woman-owned bakery is expanding again, aiming to open a second location in Libertyville later this year.

Publican Quality Bread Is Open to All

Greg Wade has been quietly winning hearts, mouths, and awards at Publican Quality Bread for years, but it’s always been a little bit of a convoluted adventure to get ahold of his products because the bakery itself was not open to the public. The easiest way (though not the most satisfying for a home consumer) was to dine at one of the many One Off Hospitality restaurants that his West Loop baking outpost has supplied for years. Some retail outlets (Publican Quality Meats, Local Foods) also carried PQB products retail, but loaves always sold out rapidly.

The days of chasing that perfect loaf are over — finally, Publican Quality Bread has opened a bakery/café that anyone can walk into and leave with their arms filled with carbs. Now don’t get confused; this is not the same as their West Loop bakery location that you may have walked by and longingly looked at. The new location is in West Town, and combines a huge bakery, a retail space and a to-go café. 1759 W. Grand Ave., West Town