When you see Zak the Baker’s rainbow storefront — which blends right in with mural-speckled Wynwood — step inside and be sure and grab a ticket. It looks like there’s an organized line filing to the front, but really the bakers are going by number.
Zak learned how to bake bread in Sweden, seeking out bakers (and cheese makers) who used traditional methods and were willing to share the secrets of their craft. He dreamed of opening his own place in Wynwood, and, by gosh, here it is: beautiful ovens, loads of space, and shelves of glistening croissants and pastelitos, cinnamon rolls, cookies, apple pies, and gorgeous loaves of sourdough wheat, multigrain, Jewish rye, and baguettes.
We start with a cookie. A very unusual cookie: rye chocolate chip with sea salt on top. It tastes part brownie, part cookie, with rich pockets of melty chocolate dotted and grains of sea salt. The edges are chewy, the middle melt-in-your-mouth. I would order 10 more in a heartbeat.
The darling gal who helped us urged me to try the Cuban pastelito with guaya y queso. The cheese is creamy and almost custard-like, and the guava sticky and tasting slightly of a perfectly ripe pear. The crumbly outsides get tiny flakes of buttery crust everywhere.
A warm baguette, served with salted butter and jam, is a an uncomplicated and unimprovable way to appreciate the goodness of the bread itself.
A slice of sourdough whole wheat comes slathered with a sour labane cheese, then roasted heirloom tomatoes and a sprinkling of fresh herbs. The bread is a great vehicle for the creamy cheese and the tomatoes are roasted just enough that they’re sweet and tender and don’t resist being bit into.
House tuna salad has fresh tarragon, plump cranberries, and red onion. For a tuna melt, it is sprinkled with sharp cheddar and hot pressed into two slices of sourdough country wheat bread. You can taste each ingredient. I love how the sweetness of the cranberries balances the sharpness of the onion.
We sit at the bar, of which there are two. From here you can watch the bakers at work — rolling baguettes, checking on rising loaves, pushing and pulling the gluten-filled buns in and out of the oven. It’s a place I wish had on our corner; a go-to for weekly loaves, holiday panettone, and the occasional banana bread. And two dozen of those rye chocolate chip cookies.