If you're staying downtown in one of the city's business hotels and want a delicious treat, drop by Belle Epicurean, in the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, 1206 Fourth Ave. (tel. 206/262-9404; www.belleepicurean.com), which specializes in sweet brioche buns.
Pike Place Market
The Crumpet Shop, 1503 First Ave. (tel. 206/682-1598), specializes in its British namesake pastries, but does scones as well. It's almost a requirement that you accompany your crumpet or scone with a pot of tea. Le Panier, 1902 Pike Place (tel. 206/441-3669; www.lepanier.com), is a great place to get a croissant and a latte and watch the market action. Chocolate chip cookie lovers should be sure to stop by Cow Chips, 111 Pike St. (tel. 206/623-3851; www.cowchipcookies.com). If cheesecake is your vice, head to The Confectional, 1530 Pike Place (tel. 206/282-4422; www.theconfectional.com), which specializes in individual cheesecakes. Just don't expect me to absolve you of your weight gain.
And when you just have to have something sweet, cold, and creamy, try the much-lauded gelato at Bottega Italiana, 1425 First Ave. (tel. 206/343-0200; www.bottegaitaliana.com), or the conveniently located Procopio, 1501 Western Ave. (tel. 206/622-4280; www.procopiogelati.com), which is on the Pike Street Hill Climb that links the waterfront with Pike Place Market.
For some of the best baked goodies in the city, head to Macrina, 2408 First Ave. (tel. 206/448-4032; www.macrinabakery.com), a neighborhood bakery/cafe that's a cozy place for a quick, cheap breakfast or lunch. In the morning, the smell of baking bread wafts down First Avenue and draws in many a passerby.
Tom Douglas's restaurants -- Dahlia Lounge, Palace Kitchen, Etta's, Lola, Serious Pie, and Seatown -- are all immensely popular, and there was such a demand for the breads and pastries served at these places that Douglas opened his own Dahlia Bakery, 2001 Fourth Ave. (tel. 206/441-4540; www.tomdouglas.com). The croissants here are the best in Seattle -- and you can even get Douglas's fabled coconut-cream pie to go.
Leave it to Seattle to take the doughnut craze and turn it into something sophisticated. Top Pot Doughnuts, 2124 Fifth Ave. (tel. 206/728-1966; www.toppotdoughnuts.com), is housed in a former showroom building with big walls of glass. Books now line the walls; doughnuts fill the display cases.
Pioneer Square & the International District
Grand Central Bakery, 214 First Ave. S. (tel. 206/622-3644; www.grandcentralbakery.com), in Pioneer Square's Grand Central Arcade, is responsible for awakening Seattle to the pleasures of rustic European-style breads. This bakery not only turns out great bread, but also does good pastries and sandwiches.
Although the name is none too appealing, Cow Chips, 102A First Ave. S. (tel. 206/292-9808), bakes Seattle's best chocolate chip cookies, which come in different sizes depending on the size of your craving.
South Lake Union & Lake Union
Ever been to a biscuit bar? If you haven't, then you should be sure to stop by Chef Tom Douglas's little Dahlia Workshop, 401 Westlake Ave. N. (tel. 206/436-0052; http://dahliaworkshop.com), a tiny breakfast and lunch place specializing in various biscuit sandwiches and such. The bakery here primarily produces the breads for all of Douglas's many restaurants.
Over on the east side of Lake Union, you can drool over beautiful French pastries at Le Fournil, 3230 Eastlake Ave. E. (tel. 206/328-6523; www.le-fournil.com). Alternatively, check out the rustic breads at Grand Central Bakery, 1616 Eastlake Ave. E. (tel. 206/957-9505).
Seattle Center & Queen Anne
My favorite Belltown bakery, Macrina, also has an outpost at 615 W. McGraw St. (tel. 206/283-5900), which is near the top of Queen Anne Hill at the north end of the neighborhood's business district.
If you've been on your feet at Volunteer Park for a while and need a snack, try the North Hill Bakery, 518 15th Ave. E. (tel. 206/325-9007; www.northhillbakery.com), just a few blocks east of the park. There's always a good selection of baked goods in the cases. For some of the best and most unusual ice cream in Seattle, head up to Capitol Hill and get in line at Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream, 917 E. Pine St. (tel. 206/708-7947; www.mollymoonicecream.com), on Capitol Hill. Flavors here include such untraditional ice creams as salted caramel, cardamom, rosemary-Meyer lemon, and honey lavender.
Let's say you've spent the morning or afternoon at the zoo, and you're suddenly struck with a craving for a fresh apple tart or an almond croissant. What's a person to do? Make tracks to The Essential Baking Company Café, 1604 N. 34th St. (tel. 206/545-0444; www.essentialbaking.com), a Wallingford rustic-bread bakery and pastry shop. You can also get sandwiches here. A second Essential Baking Company Café is east of downtown in the Madison Valley neighborhood, at 2719 E. Madison St. (tel. 206/328-0078). The abovementioned Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream has a second location in the Wallingford neighborhood at 1622 N. 45th St. (tel. 206/547-5105).
If you find yourself in Fremont craving some pie, head to the simply named Pie, 3515 Fremont Ave. N. (tel. 206/436-8590; www.sweetandsavorypie.com), where both sweet and savory mini-pies are the specialty. If, on the other hand, you're more of a cake person, you'll want to stop by Simply Desserts, 3421 Fremont Ave. N. (tel. 206/633-2671; www.simplydessertsseattle.com), where the cakes are not always so simple.
When nothing else will satisfy but a rich cupcake with buttercream frosting, stop in at Ballard's Cupcake Royale, 2052 NW Market St. (tel. 206/782-9557; www.cupcakeroyale.com), which also has locations in the Capitol Hill, West Seattle, and Madrona neighborhoods. This was Seattle's very first specialty cupcake bakery. For stollen, kringles, and other classic Danish pastries, head to Larsen's Danish Bakery, 8000 24th Ave. NW (tel. 800/626-8631; www.larsensbakery.com), in Ballard, Seattle's Scandinavian neighborhood.
South Seattle/Columbia City
Columbia City is one of Seattle's up-and-coming bohemian neighborhoods, and its commercial core has more than half a dozen restaurants, plus the Columbia City Bakery, 4865 Rainier Ave. S. (tel. 206/723-6023; http://columbiacitybakery.com), which is one of the city's best bakeries. On any given morning, there might be two dozen different types of pastries in the cases.
If you've been out on Alki Beach and are suddenly struck with a craving for a pain au chocolate or a slice of opera cake, don't despair. Just head to Bakery Nouveau, 4737 California Ave. SW (tel. 206/923-0534; www.bakerynouveau.com), which many Seattleites swear is even better than the above-mentioned Columbia City Bakery. Visit them both and you can decide for yourself.