The Reader’s Choice: Fox & Obel
You can’t talk about the best bread in Chicago without mentioning L20’s bread service—it’s phenomenal, and if you can still afford a night out at L2O, enjoy! For the rest of us, there’s Fox & Obel. The breads are handmade multiple times a day by expert bakers who fashion each loaf from an aged sourdough mother and organic flour—no commercial yeast is ever used. That may sound precious, but I assure you this isn’t foodie snobbery. This bread is everything bread should be: crusty and burnished, tender and chewy, heady, nutty, slightly sour, and fairly priced at under $4 (many La Brea loaves at Jewel top that). The selection varies, but traditional varieties like French baguette, whole-wheat sourdough, and semolina are permanent fixtures. Loaf-pan sandwich breads are just as good, especially the butter-rich brioche and the made-for-BLT potato bread. Raisin-nut bread usually makes me wince, but Fox & Obel’s dense version has become a favorite. Executive baker Pamela Fitzgerald and head baker Eliu Rodriguez have quietly redefined what I expect from my daily bread. 401 E. Illinois, 312 410 7301, fox-obel.com. —Kristina Meyer
&Our readers’ choice: Red Hen Bread
1623 N. Milwaukee, 773-342-6823; 500 W. Diversey, 773-248-6025; redhenbread.com.