I will not dilly-dally into this, but cut to the chase: Parker-Lusseau is THE best bakery/patisserie in the whole of the Monterey peninsula. Not only that, but it also rates high up there with the best in the world. So do put it on your list for when you are headed that way, because it is a must.
It actually took me a while to find it. Well, I had it on my “should be good, go check it out” list since the beginning of October, but it took me until the end of November to get to it. In a small way, this is a good thing or I would have had way to many pastries and desserts. But it was still a bummer, especially since their chai tea lattes are the best I have ever had anywhere (so far).
Parker-Lusseau has three locations for you to enjoy. The first and main one is on Munras Avenue, which is where all the baking happens. The third one is within the Ryan Ranch, while the one I explored, and that you see in these images, is the second one (in order of opening), and located on Hartnell Street, next to the post office, in the historical Fremont Adobe building.
This is how things went: one sunny but cold afternoon, I really needed to get to Pharmaca to pick up some supplements. I plopped my Boyz on the back seat of my car, and off we went. Pharmaca is located within a small and very busy shopping center in Monterey. My errand complete, I headed back to the car with the thought: “I wonder how far Parker-Lusseau is from here. Let me google-map it” And there it was, a whole 60 seconds-walk from where I was, right next to the back entrance to the parking lot.
I got out of the car again, left my pups rather confused on the back seat, and dashed over. I had first tried one of their glorious brioches at (the also fantastic) Carmel Belle, so I was expecting good things. What I found were really good things. I had also overheard someone mention their chai tea lattes, so I ordered one. Then I chose one of their glorious-looking cake slices to go: a Caramel-Pear Gingerbread (gingerbread base topped with sautéed pears and caramel mousse) that turned out to be heavenly. I knew I had to go back with my camera.
That I did, about ten days later, and I made sure to go in the morning in order to find more pastries and desserts available. This is a place where there is usually a line, but my visit happened in the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it was a little quieter, and I walked in a the perfect moment. I decided to take care of photos first, and then order, which was a good idea. I ordered another chai tea latte (as did just about everyone who walked in after me), and picked three pastries and one dessert to go: one of those Vanilla Custard Brioches I had fallen in love with at Carmel Belle, a Kouign Amann – one of my all time favorite pastries – and a Galette des Rois, which is almond cream within puff pastry and is served in slices. The dessert I picked was one of the mini cakes: White Chocolate Mousse & Raspberry. You can see all of these further down, as I took them home, took pics, and then shared with my neighbor, Ann.
After Christmas I paid another visit as I was attending a party in the evening and wanted to bring something, but did not know what. Until I thought of macarons, and figured Parker-Lusseau would have fabulous ones. Another quick ride over and I picked up an assortment of macarons, as well as a mini quiche to go for my lunch. As I ate the quiche later, I wished I had picked up two.
Indeed, Parker-Lusseau is also a great place for lunch. The café side of things features several sandwiches, savory pastries, quiches large and small in various flavors, a daily soup, and a side salad that can be added to any of the above. The sandwich bread is, of course, made in house, and also available for purchase if you get there early enough.
In the image above is the Parker-Lusseau version of a Bûche de Noël. Another client was interested in purchasing one, so the barista showed it to her and let me take a photo. By the way, all the employees at Parker-Lusseau – the ones I have met anyway – are really friendly, and I also had the impression that they really like working there, and have pride in what they do and what they sell. That certainly adds to the atmosphere, and makes for an even more pleasurable experience all around.
All this wonderfulness is what happens when an amazing American baker comes together with an equally amazing French pâtissier. And here we have husband-and-wife team Anne Parker Johnson and Yann Lusseau, who bring their talents and extensive experience together for our delight.
After working in some of the best restaurants, patisseries and hotels in the United States and Europe, including renown places like Gotham Bar & Grill, Tavern on the Green, and Sarabeth’s Kitchen in New York City, Anne and Yann opened the first Parker-Lusseau in the summer of 1996, at the Munras location, with just one employee. Now, Parker-Lusseau features two locations and, at the last count, thirteen employees between full and part time ones.
Besides their own bakery locations, Parker-Lusseau also supplies other coffee shops: Carmel Belle‘s coffee shop in Carmel, and Water + Leaves at Fishermans’ Wharf in Monterey are the ones I know about, but I am sure there are others.
Don’t forget: add Parker-Lusseau bakery to your must list for your next trip to this beautiful area of California. If you don’t, you will be missing out.
PARKER-LUSSEAU PASTRIES & CAFE
Monterey, California | website
Munras Store: 731 Munras Ave | map | ph. (831) 643-0300 (temporarily closed as of 07/15/22)
Adobe Store: 539 Hartnell Street | map | ph. (831) 641-9188
If you are exploring Monterey, you might also enjoy these posts:
And if you are headed to nearby Carmel:
And in between there is Pacific Grove: