Located on the corner of 20th and Arizona, Tartine is an acclaimed Bakery and Cafe that was founded in 2002 in San Francisco.
"We are most known for our country bread, our morning buns, and our lemon tarts. All of the San Francisco favorites are available at the Santa Monica location, with of course some new local dishes." – Tartine Team.
I first stumbled upon this place after researching popular bakeries in the area, and Tartine did not disappoint. Everything is made fresh each day, the ambiance is perfect for a Sunday morning brunch, and the food, well, let's just say I can't have a morning bun anywhere else after having the one at Tartine.
But let's bring it back to how it all started.
Tartine Co-founder, Chad Robertson, was on a weekend trip in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts when he first discovered the taste of actually fresh and delicious bread.
"It was like having a first kiss. First, the smell hit me when I walked into this old brick barn. You smell sourdough and dark caramelized crust, all flavors, and aromas I had never experienced. Just a depth and a complexity of fermentation flavors. It really had a big impact on me."
With that in mind, Robertson decided to drop everything and learn how to make the exact same kind of bread, saying, "there needs to be more of this in the world."
Robertson grew up in West Texas and inherited the craftsman gene from his maternal grandfather and great-grandfather, who made saddles and cowboy boots. In addition to that, his father was an entrepreneur and moved the family around often as he opened businesses.
In the early 90s, Robertson attended culinary school in New York, where he met his co-founder and wife, Elizabeth Prueitt. They both ended up traveling to France for an apprenticeship, and upon their return home, they felt inspired to open up their own bakery with a culture of continual learning and refining. Their motto was, "Rise each day."
Today, Tartine is famous for not only its fresh loaves of bread but for the slow food movement it helped pioneer. They've won numerous awards from the James Beard Foundation as well as earned praise from countless culinary heroes like Alice Waters, who is the owner of Chez Panisse, an acclaimed Berkeley restaurant credited for inspiring California Cuisine.
The foundation of Tartine's success is its commitment to not only nutrition but sustainability.
"I was taught that nutrition, long fermentation, sourcing the best fresh milled, whole grain flours were all really important things," says Robertson. "The very first grain I worked with was organic. All these things were the starting point for me. It was the foundation I've built everything on."
Head of Bread at Tartine, Jen Latham, says, "there's something very elemental about bread. It's just flour, water, salt, and it's something that's been a cornerstone of so many cultures across the world for so long, and for most of post-industrial baking history, flour had to be shelf-stable, so it could sit in the grocery for months and not go bad; but, the way our miller mills now, we're able to get fresh flour that's truly complete, but also still really fine and soft."
Chad Robertson: "There are a few things that really make the flour we use very special; it's that we have a profound relationship with the farmers and the community, and we're able to feed people something that has more nutrition, more fiver, more flavor."
Jen Latham: "For me, being able to call my miller and have that relationship with him is one of the most rewarding parts of doing what I do. He throws it in the mill, throws it in his bags, and a couple of days later, I have fresh flour that was just milled. And, I know that it's coming straight from him, coming straight from the farmers. I know that it's going to be used here within a few days. Sometimes I'll call him, and he'll be in the middle of the rye field and say, "Oh, I'm standing here checking on your rye! I'm gonna harvest next week."
"A long time ago, the farmers in this valley made the conscious decision that in order for them to be viable and maintain farming here, their first priority was to take care of the soil.” – Kevin Morse, Founder & CEO of Cairnspring Mills
Tartine and Cairnspring Mills work together with Dave Hedlin from Hedlin Family Farms to ensure that the grain they're utilizing is not only sustainable but traceable.
"Our family has always viewed farming with a certain amount of optimism because that's really important, you know. You've got to be optimistic; you know it is a hard life. It's hard work, and the margins can be really narrow. And at the end of the day, you need to be a good steward of this land. You need to leave this better than you found it for the next generation. – Dave Hedlin Hedlin Family Farms
Chad Roberston says one major reason for working with Hedlin Family Farms was because, "it all came down to what is important to us, what's important to you guys, and we agree on that, and that makes the whole system more sustainable."
"It might be more expensive to do things the right way, but I think for the health of our nation and our wellbeing, it's well worth the investment. I think there's a real opportunity in America today to reinvent food. And we're trying very hard to make flour that is unique and to leave more of the good stuff in the flour. The result is not only healthier food but also food with some really remarkable flavors. – Dave Hedlin
"A baker reads the weather, the flour, the levain, yesterday's baked bread before starting to mix. A complex balance of yeast, bacteria, time, temperature, moisture and fermentation acts on the simplest of ingredients, flour, water, and salt, to create one of humankind's most elemental foods. The process is ancient and intuitive. It is craft, science, art, and philosophy." - Tartine.
For all of you bakers out there, Robertson has created an intricate strategy to get a flavorful, blistered, rugged crust in a home kitchen from a starter you create yourself. It’s certainly a project — from start to finish, taking about two weeks time — but worth the effort in the end.
You can find the entire detailed process in his cookbook, "Tartine Bread," which runs 38 pages, however if you’re interested in simply buying one from the bakery, you have options.
Here's a rundown of the breads offered:
Tartine also offers a very specific selection of wine; additionally, at least half the wineries are driven by women, including an array of female viticulturists, winemakers, owners, and farmers. Natural wines and Italian varietals are also a huge focus, but in the end, the flavor is prioritized.
My first purchase of wine from Tartine was called Sunset Orange by Hollow Wines. Hollow Wines is wild fermented, vegan, and handcrafted by its creator, Quinn Hobbs. He sources from organic and dry-farmed vineyards that ensure you get the best and most natural wine, simultaneously keeping the planet in mind while doing so.
The wine itself is fantastic; it's 100% Chardonnay from the Cienega Valley, seeing seven full days of skin contact and fermented with native yeast, and then rested in neutral oak for four months. The color of it was a deep orange hue, and the flavor dripped of ripened peaches and nectarines with a slightly mineral underbelly.
Currently, there are three Tartine locations in the Bay Area, five in Los Angeles, and six in Seoul; however, the original bakery opened in San Francisco's Mission District.
Fun fact: The Tokyo Tartine deal was made over a surfing session and a bowl of dashi broth with the lead Japanese investor.
My first time at Tartine was nothing short of amazing; formerly known as the Gates, Kingsley & Gates Moeller Murphy Funeral Directors, Tartine creates a rustic and homey experience for everyone who walks through its doors in sunny Santa Monica.
The lines are often long, but the wait is always worth it. The menu at each location is different, but they all offer the same essentials.
I'm most familiar with the Santa Monica location, which is why we'll start with a few personal favorites from the menu.
First off, you pick your pastries. They have a wide variety, although I would definitely recommend their ever-famous morning bun, spiked with orange zest and cinnamon, and caramelized to perfection on the bottom of the bun while the laminated dough is crackly on the outside and soft as feathers on the inside.
On another sweet note, they also have incredible seasonal hand pies in which they rotate the filling based on the season we're in. Currently, it's strawberry, and it's delicious.
When it comes to coffee, Tartine sources theirs from Coffee Manufactory.
Coffee Manufactory started off as a small team with two decades of green coffee supply chain experience, they later joined Tartine Bakery, who share their philosophy towards sustainable sourcing and more importantly, doing things on a human scale.
"We are working to create a new paradigm for the specialty coffee roasting industry. One where exceptional coffees are developed through extraordinary relationships. Where our buying practices are based on partnerships and collaborations and not traditional vendor relationships."- Coffee Manufactory
I'm a big fan of their drip, but their cappuccinos never fail to taste just right.
As for the food, if you're feeling for a light breakfast, I'd recommend their omelette. Think impeccable flavor and soft herbs, but if you're looking for something slightly more filling, they have avocado tartine, mushroom tartine, and my personal favorite, smoked salmon tartine place.
They serve it on their famous country loaf, with a generous spread of herbed cream cheese, pickled mustard seeds, pickled red onion, preserved lemon rinds, and dill on top.
This particular breakfast is one that will have you feeling satiated and content. I even ended up purchasing an entire country loaf so I could recreate the whole meal at home. Pro tip: it's all about the bread, and don't skimp out on the pickled mustard seeds; they add an abundant amount of flavor; they last long when stored properly, and you can utilize them for many other meals.
If you're feeling neither omelette nor smoked salmon tartine, try their breakfast sandwich, which is made on a buttermilk loaf with herb aioli, arugula, white cheddar, and your choice of bacon or pork sausage—both fantastic options.
If you're ever in the Santa Monica area, I highly recommend stopping by Tartine for brunch. If you're traveling, there's a hotel directly across the street called The Ambrose Hotel Santa Monica, and if you're simply exploring the Westside, Tartine isn't too far from downtown Santa Monica or the beach for that matter.
Hours are from 8 am to 4 pm, and street parking is abundant. Bring your furry pet with you and enjoy the delicious pastries and bread this spot offers; also, buy a loaf for the week, you won't regret it.
Get the best content and best stories
in your inbox every day!