The Best Almond Croissant in Prospect Heights

So when I say "The Best Almond Croissant in Prospect Heights," I really mean "The Best Almond Croissant Along my Usual 1.5 Mile Dog Walking Route." G Maxx and I usually walk down Vanderbilt from Sterling to St. Marks, take St. Marks to Washington, and then walk back towards the park on Washington. On Saturday mornings, we walk past our street to the farmers' market at Grand Army Plaza. Our Saturday morning tradition is to buy eggs, animal organs, and honey or vegetables if they look good that day. The only reliable things we get are food for the dog. Go figure. We generally beat the crowds, which is nice. G Maxx has made friends with the Turkey Lady and the Egg Lady. I also get an almond croissant. Overall, it's a nice Saturday morning tradition.

So, on this route, there are five possible places to acquire breakfast pastries:

1) Joyce Bakeshop on Vanderbilt near Sterling, but I don't remember the cross street
2) Sit & Wonder on Washington and St. Marks
3) Penny House Cafe on Washington between Prospect and Park
4) Coffee Bites on Washington between St. Johns and Lincoln
5) Farmers Market, specifically Bread Alone

The first two do not have almond croissants.  If I go to Joyce, I like to get lemon bars, and if I go to Sit & Wonder, I am most definitely getting a donut.  They carry donuts from Dough, and they are excellent.  Penny House Cafe has the cheapest almond croissant at $2, and they are tasty.  The owner is nice and cares about customer opinion.  I feel that this coffee shop best reflects the feel of the neighborhood.  You just have to get there early because they run out of my desired pastry by noon at the latest.  The almond croissants from Bread Alone and Penny House Cafe are comparable.  Bread Alone is slightly more expensive at $2.50.  You also don't get to chat with the merchants, and if you're me, you have to balance a dozen eggs, 5 lbs of turkey giblets, and your wallet while your dog tries to eat all of the baked goods.  This is another reason we go to the market in the morning before it gets crowded.

My one issue with these is that they are not authentically made.  Almond croissants are supposed to be a way to use the previous day's croissants that didn't sell.  These "stale" croissants get revived by being sliced open, filled with buttery-sugary-almond goodness, and re-baked.  So how do you tell if your almond croissant is legit?  It should have a slice all the way through it where the filling goes.  The croissants from Penny House Cafe and Bread Alone do not have slices through them.  They are made with some alternatively constructed almond filling that is probably slightly healthier for you.  I will say that if you aren't sure if you want sweets or savories, go to Penny House Cafe.  They have excellent bagels and breakfast sandwiches.  They also prepare bagels better than Ye Olde Bagel Shoppe or whatever that place is called on Vanderbilt.  That place will put cucumber on my bagel, but put it all on one side.  It's strange.  Penny House Cafe prepares your food with love and care.  Also, if you aren't familiar with almond croissants, they are the ones with powdered sugar and sliced almonds on top, so you can check the pastry case before you enter the shop to see if there are any left.  Or you can enter and order something else.

So the best almond croissant in Prospect Heights?  Most definitely Coffee Bites.  This is the red coffee shop that is currently underneath an awning on the same block as the laundromat that burned down last year.  They are often playing the Beatles.  They have proper almond croissants.  The croissants here are the priciest at $3, but they are bigger and more delicious and totally worth it.  I usually go to Penny House, but they had run out of almond croissants super early one morning, so I walked into Coffee Bites, as it is on my way home from Penny House.  The moment I checked their pastry case, I saw what I had been looking for: the slit down the middle of the croissant.  The proper place for the filling to go.  The slit can also hold more creamy almond filling than whatever roll method the other places are using.  I'm not going to lie, I change it up.  I like all of these businesses, as they are all local and friendly.  I frequent Bread Alone the least and Penny House Cafe the most.  This hierarchy is based entirely on almond croissants.


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