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Best Bakery: No, that isn't a Ding Dong 

Crixa

This roomy bakery-cafe with ample seating both indoors and out (weather permitting) offers the freshest of cakes whose ineffable richness makes the effort of choosing just one slice feel Herculean. Daily specials and regular fare range from puddingy fruit clafoutis to seedy rolled rugelach to little chocolate pies that look like Ding Dongs but are a far cry. Created by a Berkeley High School grad whose recipes never hold back on the liquor, fresh fruit, nuts, chocolate, and butter, Crixa draws nostalgically on Austro-Hungarian baking and cafe-society traditions, giving the brick-walled place a bygone-Budapest ambience. Served up on the little plate alongside each slice is a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream, an effective palate-cleanser if an ironic one: pure cream to dilute the effects of yet richer stuff. Strong coffee provides a perfect counterpoint. Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Readers' Pick:
Arizmendi
Two locations: Oakland, 510-268-8849;
Emeryville, 510-547-0550

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(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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