There's a reason why you take a number at this Andersonville sweet spot. The granddaddy of Chicago bakeries, the Swedish Bakery has been dishing up breads, pastries and cookies since the late '20s. The line can be long (regardless of the hour), but thanks to quick service, you'll have a red-and-white, string-tied box in your hands before you know it. The larger problem is what to fill it with.
A staggering amount of cakes, cookies, breads and coffeecakes fill cases along three walls, making the circuitous pacing of undecided patrons a common sight. For a manageable sweet treat, select a few petit fours. At just .88 cents each, the sweetly decorated bite-size desserts, including carrot delight, rum ball and fudge pecan truffle, top a candy bar any day. A great place for breads, the bakery offers varieties like egg twist with raisin, Italian pesto, German rye and the best-selling Stockholm limpa, a blend of white and rye flour, molasses, brown sugar and fennel spice. Nearly all breads cost less than $3. For more Swedish favorites, try a toska torte, a short dough crust filled with dense almond cake, finished with caramelized sliced almonds.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Schwartz