Queen of the Boule

Zoe Nathan's breads at Huckleberry Cafe

From open to close, people have been crowding into Santa Monica's new Huckleberry Café for co-owner Zoe Nathan's fruit-filled crostadas, addictive eclairs and widely touted bacon maple biscuits. The savory breakfast and lunch dishes are also a hit, but we're convinced that the boules, baguettes and fresh-baked loaves are what really set this bakery apart.

Nathan got her start at Tartine in San Francisco before moving through some of L.A.'s top kitchens, ultimately landing at Rustic Canyon–only a few doors away–where she's still the pastry chef. Since the restaurant doesn't have real bread-baking capabilities, we never got to see what the chef can do with dough. Until now: She might just be the new Nancy Silverton.

With its perfect crumb and crust, Nathan's hearty rustic country boule is used for most of the café's sandwiches, but there's also a wonderfully chewy ciabatta, a very snackable multigrain baguette and a soft multigrain loaf that belies that bread's usual density. All are available to go, but you have to be quick: Many sell out by the time the café closes. Even the most die-hard carbophobes can't resist.

Huckleberry Café and Bakery, 1014 Wilshire Blvd.; 310-451-2311 or huckleberrycafe.com