Quietly tucked away 300 feet down the entrance hall of Tribeca’s Merchants Square Building, Arcade Bakery would have had the recipe for becoming one of the neighborhood’s best-kept secrets—if not for the grassroots word-of-mouth campaign that followed after opening day in 2014. Arcade Bakery was exactly what Francophilic Manhattanites had been longing for: fresh, authentic, made-from-scratch baked goods with dauntless twists and flavors, fired on-site in a historic, if unlikely, setting. Owner Roger Gural—a French Culinary Institute alum who apprenticed in Nice and then served as head baker at no less than three of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, among them Bouchon Bakery, in Napa—seeks to recreate the Japanese experience of finding noteworthy food in hidden, unconventional city spots. His bakery, with its snug wooden-alcove seating and knockout terrazzo floors by the design firm Workstead, is worth the hike to grab a pear-vanilla-buckwheat baguette, chocolate-walnut babka, baguette-dough pizza (which can be ordered online for easy pickup), or no-frills butter croissant (hands-down the city’s best). Plan accordingly, though: the bakery closes shop at 4 p.m., and Gural and his team take weekends off.
Images by Matthew Williams