Sofra Bakery & Café, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Boston’s best bakery for sweets doesn’t serve a single blueberry muffin. Instead, the treats lining Sofra’s white-marble counter are inspired by the flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East: Persian spiced doughnuts, Egyptian bread pudding, pistachio olive-oil cake. The pastries look so decadent and tantalizingly come-hither that most patrons don’t even bother parsing the hand-scribbled menu overhead. That’s too bad, as the bakery’s sleeper hit isn’t a baked good at all but, rather, a savory masterpiece.
An Israeli spin on huevos rancheros, Sofra’s shakshuka is a pillowy dream of stewed tomatoes ramped up with hawaij, a currylike Yemeni spice blend, and zhoug, a coriander-spiked Syrian chili paste, topped with farm-fresh eggs poached right in the sauce. That a multicultural breakfast dish might compete gamely with the pastries here won’t surprise fans of chef/co-owner Ana Sortun’s celebrated restaurant Oleana (also in Cambridge), which put upscale Middle Eastern fare on the local map years ago.
Our advice: Load up on pastry chef Maura Kilpatrick’s baked goods to go (don’t miss her light-as-air morning bun) while your companion hovers near the tables, waiting for a vacancy. Two piping-hot shakshukas later, you’ll still have plenty of sweets to tide you over on the trip back home.