The Bay Area's Outstanding Toast To English Muffins

The Bay Area's outstanding toast to English muffins

The bulk of the exceptional pastries at the new Sandbox Bakery in Bernal Heights are made with Japanese-style challah dough.

There's one notable exception: Sandbox's English muffins.

Made from long-fermeneted dough fortified with whole-wheat flour, the muffins are light and chewy. Owner Mutsumi Takehara cooks them on a griddle, then finishes them in the oven. They're offered individually ($1) or in packets of four ($2.75) and served with her mother-in-law's jam.

Later this month, Takehara will begin serving English-muffin breakfast sandwiches, such as mushroom with Gruyère, and smoked salmon with soy sauce.

Takehara's not the only one smitten. Arizmendi Bakery in the Inner Sunset makes a stellar sourdough rendition (60 cents); up in Napa Valley, the two locations of The Model Bakery bake what they claim to be the world's best English muffin ($1.60), an anomalously flaky version.

On the substantive front, Mission Beach Café offers a standout morning sandwich ($8) of sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions and cheddar on airy house-baked English muffins. And Spork chef Bruce Binn uses dough from the restaurant's legendary dinner rolls to create what he calls "English toast," griddle-toasted bread circles.

They're used for the brunch menu's Wagon Wheel ($12)–a brawny tower of hamburger, Tillamook cheddar, a sunny-side-up egg and redeye gravy made with Four Barrel coffee. Unexpectedly, the toast is also the anchor of Spork's renegade inside-out burger ($14).