The United Nations Of Dough: 13 International Bakeries Around Los Angeles

French and American baked goods may dominate pastry cases in Los Angeles cafés and coffee bars, but the rest of the world has its own traditions that demand some serious attention as well. As you will see, we've discovered a baker's dozen of the best bakeries, representing cuisines from Asia, Central and South America, Mexico and the Middle East. After all, pastry freaks (hand in the air!) can't subsist just on croissants and cupcakes Alone.

Israeli: Bread Lounge

Ran Zimon, an Israeli native who gained a reputation through wholesale, opened a retail bakery in the downtown Arts District in 2012, complete with industrial design, glass-fronted kitchen and shady back patio. Yes, Bread Lounge produces some of the best bread in the city, including brioche, baguettes, sourdough, and chewy ciabatta-like Kalamata olive sticks coated with za'atar. You will find croissants and kouign amann (L.A.'s pastry du jour), but Zimon's Eastern items are more interesting. Consider Balkan borek, flaky turnovers filled with ingredients like spinach with feta, or sausage with Emmentaler cheese. No matter what you grab, don't leave without a container of bamba, which are halva-esque, sesame-lined peanut butter cookies. 700 S. Santa Fe Ave., Arts District, 213-327-0782,

Salvadorean: Cuscatleca Bakery

Cuscatleca Bakery has made an impact in Pico-Union for more than a decade, and the Echo Park branch, also named for a town in El Salvador, is continuing family traditions. Soft house-made bolillo buns host delectable tortas, including a version with queso fresco, avocado, jalapenos and earthy pinto bean puree. Quesadilla is a muffin with the best qualities of both poundcake and cornbread that's studded with sesame seeds to boot. They fill an oval of warm bread with what must be half a container of cream cheese, plus punchy pickled jalapenos. They have a bin of foil wrapped Salvadoran tamales on the counter, if you need another savory fix. 2501 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, 213-483-0432

Danish: Hygge Bakery

Native Dane Rasmus Lee and Helen Le opened Hygge Bakery in 2009 in a glass, concrete and steel storefront at the base of a South Park mixed-use development. Hygge [pronounced hoo-geh] is Denmark's equivalent of La Dolce Vita, touting the good life. With that goal in mind, Hygge fills display cases and countertops with with loaves of bread and panoply of pastries. Highlights include kringle, delicate pastry containing almond cream, with almond scales up top; water kringle, interlaced dough that incorporates shaved almonds, streaks of chocolate and icing; and the Spandauer, flaky pastry almond paste, shaved almonds and a central custard orb that shines as bright as the midday sun. They also have pastries with strange names like Goose Breast and Sarah Bernhardt, which you'll just have to see to understand. 1106 S. Hope St., Downtown, 213-746-2141,

Filipino: Auntie Dee's Pan De Manila

Plenty of Filipino bakery chains dot L.A., including Red Ribbon and Goldilocks. This is one of the best independents, located in a Glassell Park strip mall and sporting a cartoon bee logo. Owner Nanette Capulong is a practicing dentist, and her sister runs the front of house. Standout items include boat tarts, featuring crimped, shortbread like vessels carrying young coconut, cheese or even better: jackfruit (langka). Siopao are fluffy steamed buns that cradle chicken or pork products, including Bola Bola, a patty of juicy meatball, salted egg and snappy Chinese sausage. The biggest beast in the case is Ube Macapuno Ensymada, soft bread that's crusted with granulated sugar and folded with purple yam puree and slippery cuts of young coconut. 3756 W. Ave 40, Glassell Park, 323-478-9284

Japan: Patisserie Chantilly

For South Bay native Keiko Nojima, it took traveling around the world to realize she was more comfortable baking at home. A trip to Paris led to her introduction to the show white Chateau Chantilly, which inspired the sugar-folded French cream and her bakery's name. She attended culinary school in San Francisco and worked at a bakery in Japan, which served as her base for exploration. She visited 50 Japanese bakeries and developed her "French pastries with Japanese flair." Patisserie Chantilly houses only five tables and the contemporary space hosts shelves touting cakes, puddings and pound cakes. Prime options include choux aux sesame, a ethereal cream puff filled to order with black sesame cream, topped with black sesame seeds and dusted with soy powder. Mont Blanc is a "mountain" of chestnut cream filled with a layer of yellow cake and a whole chestnut, with a crushed almond base. Nojima also makes macarons with Japanese-inspired flavors like sesame and matcha. 2383 Lomita Blvd., Lomita, 310.257.9454,

Mexican: La Mascota Bakery

This Boyle Heights legend dates to 1952. As soon as you walk through the double doors, expect to get a blast of aroma from pan dulce, which fill a half-dozen display cases. Flan and chocoflan are in full effect, along with burnished biscuits, musket ball shaped Mexican wedding cookies coated with powdered sugar, three-hued Neapolitan cookie flavored with raspberry, vanilla and chocolate, and much more. La Mascota also stocks terrific house-made tamales in back, each containing fluffy masa. Top combinations include Monterey jack, jalapenos and tomato sauce; or the pork tamale with shredded pork shoulder and spicy chile California salsa. 2715 Whittier Blvd., Boyle Heights, 323-263-5513,

Korean: Meedo Dduk Café

This Korean specialty café opened in 2013, selling over 70 types of steamed artisan rice cakes — all following the Mee (Flavor) Do (Path). Mugwort comes from Korea's Jeju Island and factors into rice cakes and Power Bars, which also contain chestnuts and sunflower seeds. Other flavors, dyed naturally vivid colors, include Red Cactus Fruit and Pine. Mochi Pumpkin sports a soft coat that shields pumpkin chunks, walnuts, cinnamon and salt. Barley Muffin is a fluffy steamed dome crafted with rice wine, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. 401 S. Vermont Ave., Koreatown, 213-351-9963,

Armenian: Mush Bakery

Between Hollywood and Silver Lake, you'll find Little Armenia, home to thousands of immigrants from Yerevan and surrounding villages. Savory flatbreads are an Armenian staple, and Mush Bakery has the widest range. Serop Agadzhanyan presides over Mush, whose name to a Turkish town built by Armenian king Mushig. A wall mural depicts a baker using stone oven called a taron, which historically baked delicacies in the ground. Mush has a deck oven, but they still produce beautiful lahmajun, topped with spiced ground beef; beoreks of varying shapes that cradle spinach, cheese, beef or potato; and zatar-crusted maneishe. If you've got 30 minutes to spare, they'll bake ajarakan, a football-shaped pastry topped with salty cheese, two cracked eggs, and both black and Aleppo pepper. Sesame-flavored tahini bread is Mush's only sweet option. 5224 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, 323-662-2010

Cuban: Porto's Bakery

Raul and Rosa Porto opened their first Cuban shop back in 1974, and the Porto family continues to draw crowds to Glendale and Burbank. Glendale remains the flagship, featuring a serpentine line that builds roller coaster-level anticipation. To your right, you'll find elaborate cakes, tarts and mousses. To your left, Porto's features baked ham and cheese empanadas, ham croquetas and pudding-like tamales with pulled pork. Shelves host loaves of bread, which are used to produce pressed Cuban sandwiches. A central display case houses cinnamon rolls and cookies, but the most interesting offerings are uniquely Cuban pastries made with guava, cream cheese and dulce de leche. Top sellers are the flaky guava and cream cheese pastries. Dulce de leche kisses are encased in buttery cookie and dusted with powdered sugar. A 15,000-square-foot location debuted in Downey in 2010. 315 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, 818-956-5996; 3614 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, 818-846-9100, 8233 Firestone Blvd., Downey, 562-862-8888,

Lebanese: Shanto's Bakery

Shaunt Adessian's bakery, which occupies a La Crescenta strip mall, features Lebanese items. Yes, they have a particular bright version of lahmajoun with parsley and lemon juice, but Esfiha is another ground meat offering that's even better, benefiting from tart pomegranate sauce. Shanto's even bakes their falafel, which joins pickles, tahini, and tomato in blistered bread. To drink, look for Sahlip, iced milk tea flavored with floral orange blossom water and dusted with cinnamon. If you're craving something sweet, they offer an array of Ashtalieh, Namura and Sphoof. 3747 Foothill Blvd., La Crescenta, 818-330-9835

Turkish: Royal Pastry

This Turkish bakery, which has a name that's hard to pin down, has a connection to Güllüoglu, which opened in 1871 in Istanbul and also has locations in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn and Astoria, Queens. In the distant San Fernando hamlet of Granada Hills, they specialize in Turkish pastries, including standout baklava and a host of baked goods. Catal is a salted cookie with black and white sesame seeds that resembles a musical note. Acma, a Turkish bagel, comes in feta, plain, chocolate and olive flavors. For Cevizli, imagine a moon that's lined with almond scales, filled with cinnamon, walnuts, raisins and more. 10662 Zelzah Ave., Granada Hills, 818-363-2030

Indian: Surati Farsan Mart

Sweet shops are popular in Little India, an Indian-American enclave in the southeast L.A. County town of Artesia, and Surati Farsan Mart is the elder statesman. The vegetarian café with stone walls dates to 1986 and is named for a city in the state of Gujarat. Colorful sweets fill a multi-level case, including Kaju Pista Roll, a sweet tan and green swirl of cashew and pistachio; a yellow square of Mango Barfi, milk powder flavored with mango; Badam Meesur, a gritty blend of almond powder, sugar and butter, topped with cardamom powder; and Anjir Pista Roll, a fig paste wrapped combination of cashew and pistachio. Badam Messur has an entirely different texture, a brick of firm almond that melts in your mouth. There's even a sweet designed to mimic watermelon, with colored pistachios and cashews that resemble the fruit and rind, complete with raisin "seeds." 11814 186th St., Artesia, 562.860.2310,

Vietnamese: Tip Top Sandwiches

Tip Top, a Little Saigon institution from Loc Lee, expanded to the San Gabriel Valley in 1988, occupying the former home of an auto dealership. For 19 hours a day, they dispense deluxe banh mi sandwiches filled with ingredients like BBQ pork, sardines, and shredded hog skin, which grace supple house-made baguettes, but that's not all. Near the cash register, you'll also find a warming case for flaky pate chaud filled with peppery ground pork or chicken. There's also a sprawling glass case that displays a host of French-style pastries, plus a unique pull-apart loaf that fuses six chambers, along with seemingly disparate parts – mocha, rum, apple and pineapple – that somehow meld harmoniously. 8522 E. Valley Blvd., Rosemead, 626.280.8883

Joshua Lurie is the L.A. based founder of Food GPS.

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