The top 10 Jewish bakeries in Toronto
Jewish bakeries in Toronto have dwindled in number, even in just my lifetime (RIP Open Window). The ones that remain, in many cases, have been around forever, beloved for upholding old world-traditions and supplying ceremonious and celebratory edibles that are forever intertwined with Jewish culture, religion and family life.
Aside from widely-recognized breads like challah and rye, there's a whole world of Jewish baked goods to be discovered: homely (er, rustic-looking) but delicious pastries, cookies, danishes and cakes, not to mention an array of festive seasonal treats that pop up, just like panettone at Italian bakeries, in time for specific holidays.
Here are my picks for the top Jewish bakeries in Toronto.
This long-standing institution has thrived in the Annex since 1945, specializing in Jewish staples like eggy challah and mandelbrodt. Holiday baked goods can be found at various times of the year, including honey cakes for Rosh Hashanah and sufganiyot (jelly-filled dougnnuts) for Hannukah, making it a festive supply shop for the most faithful. Week-round, find the deli counter stocked with prepared foods and sandwich fixings available by weight to enjoy with those seeded bagels and buns.
Kiva's Restaurant & Bakery
While two downtown bagel bars have a more singular focus, the original Bathurst and Steeles location covers a wide breadth of European baked goods and prepared foods. Since opening its doors in 1979, the place has gained a loyal following of folks who know it as a top source for fancy challahs, rye breads, bubka, rugalahs and cheese blintzes.
What A Bagel
The bagelria has expanded with multiple bakery-cafe outposts across the GTA, and while fresh bagels made on site might be the chain's raison d'etre, the bakeshops are also well-stocked with other Jewish delicacies, including braided challahs, danishes and bourekas.
Located on Bathurst in an aging Jewish neighbourhood, this kosher bakery and grocer does brisk pre-Shabbat business on Fridays before sundown. Hot-ticket items include fresh baked challahs, desserts and other parve (non-dairy) essentials.
The family of bakers has been perfecting its trade since 1888, bringing recipes from Lithuania to England and then finally to Toronto. Locations in Thornhill and North York continue to keep traditions alive, offering an impressive range of breads (everything from sweet bilkas and fancy loaves to multigrains and ryes) as well as confections and cakes.
Also on Bathurst, this kosher bakery accommodates carb-lovers and the ultra-orthodox alike by offering assorted baked goods and cholev yisroel (dairy products). Expect to find challahs and whole grain loaves available, plus a wide variety of Simcha-worthy desserts, seasonal specialties and custom cakes available to order.
My Zaidy's Bakery
Found in Thornhill, this bakery has expanded in recent years and is not only kosher, but also gluten-free and nut-free. Along with the daily staples like challahs, cheese danishes and palmiers, you'll find festive specialties like hamentaschen (trianglar cookies filled with poppy seeds or jam) and sufganiyot. Unlike most Jewish bakeries, this one stays open even over Passover, selling macaroons and unleavened pizzas.
Richmond Kosher Bakery
Taking over the Bathurst address formerly belonging to the longstanding Richman's Kosher Bakery, this recently renovated shop upholds the traditions of old-world baking, despite being under new management. In addition to the wide assortment of fresh breads and pastries available for grab and go, the bakery accepts special orders for shabbat challahs and tiered cakes for weddings and other mitzvahs.
Phipps Bakery Cafe
While not exclusively a Jewish baker or kosher for that matter, this Eglinton West bakery carries crown challahs regularly as well as timely holiday treats. For the new year, find traditional honey and apple cakes while at hannukah the sweet trays get the gilt treatment. Come purim you'll find poppy seed hamantaschen and in the spring you'll even find passover-friendly treats like macaroons.
The St. Clair cafe isn't kosher either, but here you can have a little rugelach along with your espresso. Pareve baking is available for special orders, though I'd say check with your hosts firsts if you plan on bringing some along for shabbat dinner.
Did I miss any? Leave your favourite Jewish bakery in the comments.
Photo of Grodzinski bakery by Jesse Milns.
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