Croissants cer­tainly seem like food fit for a king: tran­scen­dently downy and gilt, gor­geously lay­ered, with pil­lowy cen­ters redo­lent of but­ter.

Pasatiempo - - RESTAURANT REVIEW -

a royal hi­er­ar­chy of baked goods, the crois­sant would al­most surely be king. If you hold one of the golden cres­cents just so, it’s not hard to imag­ine don­ning one, in a mo­ment of lev­ity, like a crown or tiara. And they cer­tainly seem like food fit for a king: tran­scen­dently downy and gilt, gor­geously lay­ered, with pil­lowy cen­ters redo­lent of but­ter. When Kanye West, who ap­par­ently fan­cies him­self a mem­ber of mod­ern-day roy­alty, de­manded, “I’m a god … Hurry up with my damn croissants!” the As­so­ci­a­tion of French Bak­ers wrote, re­mind­ing him that “the crois­sant is dig­ni­fied — not vul­gar like a piece of toast … born of ten­der care and crafts­man­ship.”

Now, Santa Fe is hardly Paris, and the crois­sant and its Gallic cousins are not New Mex­ico’s strong suit — culi­nary-minded tourists don’t travel to the Land of En­chant­ment to have French pas­try for break­fast. But some­times a girl just wants to sip a café au lait and lit­ter her lap with flaky pas­try crumbs. A re­cent ex­plo­ration re­vealed that Santa Fe of­fers a sur­pris­ing ar­ray of spots that make that pos­si­ble with­out hav­ing to leave town.

There are the usual sus­pects, of course. The French Pas­try Shop at La Fonda stocks its case with the essentials: croissants, pains au cho­co­lat, and palmiers, among oth­ers. Unglazed and oddly mis­shapen, the croissants seem care­lessly homely — like the culi­nary equiv­a­lent of throw­ing on sweats and a base­ball cap. But looks can be de­ceiv­ing: They taste pleas­antly saltysweet and have an im­pres­sive flak­i­ness. Mine seemed heavy on the but­ter — not nec­es­sar­ily a detri­ment but for the oily mouth­feel.

At Choco­late Maven, a brightly lit glass-doored cabi­net dis­plays a stun­ning ar­ray of out­size pas­tries, from cin­na­mon twists, dan­ishes, and ap­ple-stud­ded bear claws to croissants of the plain, choco­late, and savory va­ri­ety. The sub­tly herby spinach-feta ver­sion stood out. Note, though, that most pas­tries here have been given an all-Amer­i­can “su­per-siz­ing”: many could — and prob­a­bly should — be shared.

The same holds true at Whole Foods Mar­ket. The plump pas­tries in the clear dis­play case are un­doubt­edly eye-catch­ing, but my over­sized crois­sant seemed to be a vic­tim of in­dus­trial pre­ci­sion, pri­or­i­tiz­ing an ar­rest­ing ap­pear­ance with­out pro­vid­ing the fla­vor and glo­ri­ous sub­stance to back it up. The bear claw was de­light­fully sweet and stuffed with ap­ples, but the pas­try was dis­ap­point­ingly gummy and dense.

As you step in the door of Clafoutis, pro­pri­etress Anne-Laure Ligier or a mem­ber of her staff greets you with a lilt­ing “Bon­jour!” Pulling apart their prac­ti­cally per­fect crois­sant re­veals lay­ers of but­ter-per­fumed tis­sue, ide­ally sweet and flaky; and their pain au cho­co­lat is clas­sic, the dark choco­late of­fer­ing an ex­cit­ing coun­ter­point to the leafy lay­ers of mild saltysweet dough.

The kitchen at the newly trans­planted Chez Dré rolls out time­less treats each day. On one morn­ing, the fruit dan­ishes were a bit of a mess and over­cooked in spots, but the bear claw was com­mend­able. The crois­sant was ex­em­plary, al­lur­ingly but­tery and flaky, al­beit a touch more elas­tic, and with a shim­mer­ing glaze.

The dainty bak­ery case at Chez Mamou, another ven­ture chan­nel­ing French charm, is festooned with en­chant­ing jewel-like treats. Their pain au cho­co­lat, dough over­lap­ping in gor­geous par­al­lel curves be­neath its gos­samer glaze, won praises for its ju­di­cious use of choco­late. While my still-wak­ing palate craved more salt in the crois­sant, it was nonethe­less ethe­re­ally light and ten­der.

An­gel’s Bak­ery cranks out an im­pres­sive slew of treats, in­clud­ing em­panadas and fore­arm-sized croissants of the sweet and savory per­sua­sion. The plain ver­sion was un­re­mark­able but for its gen­er­ous di­men­sion and slightly over­toasted fla­vor — it will ap­peal to those who en­joy croissants with crunchy knobs at the ends. But the ham, cheese, and chile is loaded with meat; and the sugar-dusted, syrup-driz­zled choco­late seemed de­signed for dessert.

Bi­adora Bak­ery is the new­comer. The light in­dus­trial façade of the Sec­ond Street Stu­dios be­lies a won­der­land of an in­te­rior — par­tic­u­larly now, dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. The counter is be­decked with daz­zling del­i­ca­cies: dainty sweet and but­tery croissants, mini palmiers and cin­na­mon buns, fruit dan­ishes, pains au cho­co­lat with crisp tops and fluffy cen­ters cos­set­ting bars of in­tense dark choco­late, and a va­ri­ety of pas­tries with savory fill­ings. Around the cor­ner, a lighted case dis­plays a ver­i­ta­ble rain­bow of mac­arons.

The staff at Dulce moves hun­gry guests through the or­der­ing process with in­dus­tri­ous ef­fi­ciency, but they clearly de­vote love and care to their baked goods. One of our fa­vorites was a crois­sant filled with thinly sliced ham, nutty Swiss cheese, and green chile with a tingly heat. Their siz­able plain crois­sant was per­fectly pleas­ant, ex­ceed­ingly flaky, and a touch saltier than sweet.

Like most ev­ery­one, when I’m in the mood to in­dulge in pas­try, I have my go-tos (Café Fina is an oa­sis in the pas­try desert of El­do­rado, with re­spectable golden croissants and pains au cho­co­lat avail­able most morn­ings). But once you look around, you’ll find that much like a crois­sant, our city has sur­pris­ing lay­ers — a wide va­ri­ety of de­li­cious shapes, styles, and fla­vor com­bi­na­tions to ex­plore — no air­fare to Paris re­quired.

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