The past few years have brought a bakery boom to New Orleans, with the openings of exciting new shops like Ayu Bakehouse, Dough Nguyener’s Vietnamese Bakery, BSweet Cakes & Bistro, and more. The city is anticipating two new fantastic additions in the coming months, both of which are already known around town for their seasonal king cakes: Mae’s Bakeshop, opening soon in the former Uptown home of Beth Biundo Sweets, and Nolita, expected to open in December where Mayhew Bakery once lived in Bayou St. John.
While New Orleans’s bakeries are consistently impressing with refined cakes, cookies, muffins, and turnovers, this fall also seems to be the best time to explore the world of savory pastries, from roasted vegetable open-faced croissants to meat-filled puffs of richness. Here’s where to find some of the best savory croissants in New Orleans right now.
Opened in 2021, Leo’s Bread is from Kate Heller, a well-known figure in New Orleans’s bread world. Heller got her start a decade ago selling loaves as a pop-up outside breakfast favorite Pagoda Cafe and then at Crescent City Farmers Market in Mid-City before manning the large wood-fired oven at Echo’s Pizza. Leo’s Bread is her first bakery, and she stayed close to her roots to open it: The Mid-City shop is on Bell Street, right off Bayou Road, and she still sells her wares at weekly Crescent City Farmers Markets. Right now, Heller is baking up two hugely popular seasonal croissants: a savory one with roasted sweet potatoes, feta, sunflower seeds, and dill, and an apple version. Get them from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Levee Baking Co.
Christina Balzebre is another baker who formed a following at weekly farmers' markets and as a pop-up. She opened Levee Baking Co. in 2019 off Magazine Street in the Irish Channel after a few years of drawing long lines on Saturday mornings to Mosquito Supper Club on Dryades Street. Best known for her crusty loaves of bread, chocolate babka, and kouign-amann, Balzebre says one of the biggest hits at her shop the last few months has been the seasonal savory, open-faced croissants.
“The formula for the savory open-faced croissant is a roasted vegetable, a complimentary cheese, and fresh herbs or seedy topping. We were doing shishito pepper, cream cheese, and everything seasoning over the summer, and we’ve transitioned into potato or squash for the fall.” Right now it’s sweet potato, feta, and dill, with goat feta from a local farm called Southern Maids Dairy in Franklinton, Louisiana, and produce sourced from several small farms nearby — Cicada Calling Farm, vendors with JV Foods, or the Crescent City Farmers Market.
Ayu Bakehouse is one of the most exciting new bakeries in New Orleans, becoming an unlikely Frenchmen Street destination since opening in summer 2022. What’s also unexpected are Ayu’s pastries, like the subtly sweet fillings of red bean and kaya and its savory staples. “Being on Frenchmen Street, blocks away from the bars and restaurants, we wanted to create savory treats that were easy to hold in one hand with a drink in the other while walking the neighborhood,” says co-founder Samantha Weiss, who opened Ayu with business partner Kelly Jacques.
A few examples are the Boudin Boy, muffuletta breadsticks, and the Shroom Boom. “The Shroom Boom was originally inspired by the eternal deliciousness that is French onion soup — caramelized onions, gruyère, thyme,” Jacques says. “We eventually added in sliced mushrooms to round it all out.”