separating the wheat from the chaff

Austin bakery rises onto Food & Wine’s list of the best bread in Texas

Austin bakery rises onto Food & Wine’s list of best bread in Texas

Thoroughbread Austin
ThoroughBread's baked goods — from sourdough to gigantic stuffed cookies — are heavenly. Thoroughbread/Instagram

One of the biggest pandemic foodie trends has been a surge in the popularity of bread, and here is national food magazine Food & Wine exploiting that trend with a new best-of list.

Called “The Best Bread in Every State,” the article is a list of bread makers in each of the 50 states, including Texas.

With Texas being so large, the blurb highlights bakeries in three cities:

Written by David Landsel, the magazine’s editor, the article references the “quiet revolution taking place within American bread” spurred by the pandemic, with bakers being cooped up at home leading to “an absolute explosion in the cottage baking industry.”

The blurbs are written in a conversational style — heavy on chattiness, light on stats.

Here’s the Texas summary:

Bread in the Lone Star State has come very far in not very much time at all, which is to say that 2018 already feels like ages ago. That’s the year Ryan Goebel took the bold step of opening ThoroughBread in Austin. At his modest-seeming shop, tucked away from view in the Zilker neighborhood, Goebel was, from the very start, turning out some of the finest naturally leavened loaves in the state, back when there weren’t a ton to choose from. These days, that’s still true, but there’s no denying that the drought is officially over. From the sprawling North Texas suburbs on down, sourdough is kind of a big deal right now. There are two standouts: the beautiful, catch-them-if-you-can loaves at the online-only Kuluntu Bakery in Dallas, and Magnol French Baking in Houston, where chefs Otto Sanchez and Brittany native Matthieu Cabon have been shaking things up since 2019.

There’s no question that all three of these bread makers are cranking out great bread. But the “Best Bread in Texas” headline might be a little misleading, as the list bypasses some well-established names and instead skews toward new, hipster, and independently owned entities. Maybe it should be recast as “Best New Post-pandemic Breads”?

The list also seems to be focused on bakers who specialize in sourdough breads. So maybe “Best New Post-pandemic Sourdough Breads” would be more accurate?

ThoroughBread in Austin fits the filter: Founded in 2019, it’s a small operation that creates only five breads, dominated by sourdough: white sour, wheat sour, rye sour, white loaf, and wheat loaf. (Non-bread-wise, they also do cookies and their signature kolache-style “Burridoughs.”)

Kuluntu in Dallas does incomparably amazing breads and baked goods, but it’s not something you can just walk in off the street and buy. Founded in 2018, it’s a cottage business, requiring that you order via email, then pick it up at a house in Oak Cliff a few days later. The selection is limited and changes every week but follows the article’s sourdough-centric theme, offering two to three sourdough options, plus seasonal items such as a fall croissant filled with delicata squash, goat cheese, and sage.

Magnol in Houston was founded in 2019 by two veteran bakers, one a native of France, and has a big wholesale business supplying bread to restaurants such as Bludorn and Coltivare. It’s bigger than the other two Texas bakeries that made this list, with a broader menu that focuses on French breads rather than sourdough. The spot definitely has hipster cred, with big lines on weekends.

Landsel, the author, very likely sought advice from local “experts” since he could hardly have, for example, ordered bread from Kuluntu. Or did he go by Instagram photos? (Neither he nor the magazine’s PR team responded to a query regarding their methodology.)

“Two years later, where are we? This list aims to answer that question, and one thing is clear: We’re left with far more good bread than we started with,” he concludes.