Photo by: Debbie Snow
- St. Pete — Beignets, those traditional New Orleans deep-fried dough puffs, which are showing up on menus across Florida and fast becoming the new breakfast food. We found a tasty version served hot with a generous dusting of powdered sugar at Nola's Second Line Café in downtown St. Petersburg. Locals walk and bicycle to the tiny café, tucked inside a sleek high-rise, across from the bayfront. Sit at the counter and order a café au lait to go with your freshly made beignets. Average pastry: $3.
- Orlando — The Raphsodic Cooperative Company Bakery & Store in Orlando gives off a bohemian air. So, look no farther than its old-fashioned wooden counters, mosaic floors and walls covered with floral artwork. Owner Katie Mosher opened her neighborhood vegan café with the mantra “food is love,” and judging by the friendly interaction with customers, there’s certainly plenty of both to go around. Try her organic Guatemala Laguna coffee, which is so smooth you won’t need mixers. Every- thing she makes is vegan (no animal products). Her kitchen-sink sandwich cookies, packed with oatmeal, nuts, cranberries and coconut, are held together with an icing made of soy-based butter, vanilla and confectioner’s sugar. From the gluten-free shelf, sample the marzipan rosemary biscotti, and from the raw-food section, try
the cacao macaroon for a dose of chocolate sans the sweetness. Average pastry: $4.
- Sarasota — The Savory Street International Café Bakery in Sarasota definitely has the down- town crowd hooked. With its perfectly shaped buttery croissants, strawberry biscuits, apple-cinnamon muffins and gently iced scones, willpower be damned. Pastry chef Blake Ellis bakes crusty artisan breads — rosemary semolina and the popular 10-grain loaf — that he turns into breakfast sandwiches loaded with scrambled eggs and slices of imported cheese. His medium- dark coffee blend is sweet on the palate — no bitterness or acid — and folks sip it at the outdoor tables that wrap the corner café. Watch for his holiday stollens and panettone — sweet bread stuffed with raisins and candied fruits. Average pastry: $4.
- West Palm Beach — Made-from-scratch crusty baguettes, almond croissants and lovely fruit tarts are delicious staples at Paris Bakery & Café in West Palm Beach; however, Le Frunche, Saturday’s French brunch, is another reason to visit this quaint spot. Owners Andrea and Didier Martin serve up authentic specialties such as bouchée à la reine, a delicate puff pastry filled with chicken, mushrooms and béchamel sauce, or eggs in a cup, ouef cocotte, two eggs dipped in cream topped with ham and mozzarella cheese. Average pastry: $4.