Two Must-Visit Honolulu Bakeries Include One Gem

Honolulu’s bakery hits are a tale of two unique and nearly opposite styles. From traditional baking from scratch to trendy “proof and bake”, these two bakery choices are a reminder of not judging a book by its cover. What they share in common is incredible popularity. Both are iconic, but for different reasons. We visited Breadshop and Paris Baguette recently, and here’s what we found.

Breadshop a 2024 James Beard award semifinalist.

This Kaimuki establishment is one of 20 nationwide to be selected as one of the outstanding bakeries in the USA. The winner will be announced by James Beard later this spring. We would not be surprised at all to see them be the winner.

Breadshop has excellent bread, pastries, and other delicious baked goods prepared in a classic French tradition, as well as in a unique Hawaii fusion. We continue to return to Breadshop regularly and have never been disappointed unless what we want is sold out for ordering. Here’s where it gets interesting because you reserve your order beforehand.

There are no lines or fancy displays. You’ll probably be the only customer.

Don’t visit Breadshop in Kaimuki unannounced. Instead, put this on your list of things to do in Honolulu. And as is becoming familiar in Hawaii, and just like Hanauma Bay, you’ll need to plan for your visit, by ordering, scheduling, and paying online in advance.

The bakery is open for pick-up orders at specific times on Tuesday through Sunday, between 2 pm to 6 pm. Orders for the week open on Tuesday morning, which is the best time to choose your time for pick-up and preferred products. Then you arrive, picking up at their window at the scheduled time.

In terms of Breadshop’s philosophy, their “established daily” says it all. Everything is made right there, using the most traditional of methods. Anything not picked up each day is donated to a food pantry.

The specialty at Breadshop is naturally leavened bread, and they excel entirely. Recently, we picked up a box of four cardamon (and citrus) morning buns ($18 for the box), and they were as standout as anything else we’ve ever had there. It was hard to stop from eating all of them immediately.

Come hungry, as we’ve never been able to make it out of the parking lot without sampling what we’ve purchased.

Don’t Miss the Curb Kaimuki next door, one of Honolulu’s best coffee bars. It’s open until 2 pm daily, which is the first pickup time at Breadshop. So come here first for coffee, then walk next door for your bread.

Breadshop is located in Kaimuki at 3408 Waialae Avenue (#104).

Paris Baguette Honolulu

This one is more challenging to write about, and it may be intriguing unless you are already familiar with the company. The global bakery chain already has 4,000 outlets, but this is the first one in Hawaii. Not only that, but it is the first franchise location ever that’s locally owned.

The company says about Paris Baguette, “Your neighborhood bakery café serving delicious pastries; fresh-baked breads; stunning cakes; expertly brewed coffees and teas…”

Find daunting lines most of the time for this new Hawaii bakery!

The bakery just opened (March 2024) and as with anything like that in Hawaii, we knew to expect long lines. But this long, we didn’t expect. On a Sunday morning, when downtown Honolulu is all but deserted, there was a line around the block. We left and returned late in the morning to find a far shorter line, then decided to dive in.

Being traditionalists when it comes to things related to dough, we seek out fine pastry, which includes croissants of various kinds, among other things. While they do offer a good variety of traditionally styled pastries, clearly, it was something else that people were seeking out.

The most popular items, as we were advised by the manager, included fruit topped pastries, doughnuts including mochi flavored, various beautifully decorated cakes and cake slices, cheesecakes, and what we call chocolatine (pain au Chocolat). Also popular are savory treats, including quiche-like pastries.

We tried both plain croissants and related broccoli and cheese pastries. While they looked tasty and pretty, the taste did not live up to our expectations. Nothing exceptional and very as they say in France, “normale.” If you like Costco bakery products you will find a great alternative, with a lot more variety, here at Paris Baguette.

The sad reality of both Paris Baguette and Costco.

This is “proof and bake.” As the manager confirmed to us, almost nothing at Paris Baguette is made there. He said there are a few things, such as breads, that they make from scratch. But when it comes to the rest, it arrives from outside of Hawaii frozen and is risen (proofed), baked (or fried), and decorated.

In spite of its beautiful appearance, we frankly found Paris Baguette to be very disappointing, and have no plans to return. The pretty colors and an enormously pleasing display just weren’t enough to make up for the lack of authenticity, texture or flavor we found elsewhere.

Paris Baquette is open from 6 am to 6 pm daily at 1000 Bishop Street (#104).

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7 thoughts on “Two Must-Visit Honolulu Bakeries Include One Gem”

  1. My online message to Breadstop: wrote you a glowing review, but they quoted your open days as “Tuesday to Sunday.” Were they correct, because your website and Google Search say open “Wednesday to Sunday?” Mahalo from southern Oregon.

    Reply from Breadstop:
    Thank you for alerting us to this. We are open Wednesday to Sunday and closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Thank you! Amber 

  2. Another must visit is the old school Nanding’s Bakery on Gulick in HNL. Their Spanish Rolls are a fluffy, buttery, piece of heaven…

    Best Regards.

  3. Couldn’t agree more on PB. The self serve thing is totally unexpected. My only trip to PB (last week) I saw a man rummaging through the items inside two different display cases, using tongs but you could see his arm coming into contact with items. No thanks

  4. One can go to Paris Baguette pretty much anyplace, why would that be on a must-see list for a Hawaii visit. I’d rather go somewhere during my visit that I will not be able to sample after I leave…cocoa puffs at Liliha bakery anyone?

  5. Gawd, I love you for being honest. Long lines? Costco? No. It’s a storefront for pretend pastry. Breadshop sounds far more interesting and authentic. If I need something sweet, I’ll wait in line at Leonards any day. Oh!, and mahalo for your reporting, gentlemen!

    1. I wholeheartedly agree. Leonard’s rules when it comes to sweets. It’s easy to sell Paris Baguette to someone who has never tried a good pastry and/or never been to Europe.

      O’ahu needs more good bakeries with good bread. Why is it such a rocket science project? Other than the Breadshop (their business model is a bit inconvenient for many), the only place I know of that makes good bread is Whole Foods, but too often good bread is sold out there which tells you a lot about the whole bread industry on the island. Costco used to have a pretty good whole grain bread and another one with walnuts and cranberries, but I haven’t seen it in a while.

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