Yelp has released its list of the top 17 bakeries in the United States and number one may be right around the corner from you.
Located in the East Village, Izola is topping the charts. With over 400 reviews on Yelp, Izola has a strong five-star rating and it’s not hard to tell why. Mouth-watering images of the extensive array of buttery, flaky croissants, sourdough galore, the raved-over Tahitian vanilla knot and more flood the restaurant review page.
When considering what to order, take a recommendation from the two biggest fans themselves, owners Jeffrey Brown and Jennifer "Jenny" Chen. Brown's current favorite is the Seedy Multigrain Sourdough. "Mr. Savory right here," Brown exclaimed during our interview and then proceeded to list off the spectacle of seeds incorporated into his sourdough. Chen on the other hand has more of a sweet tooth.
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Her favorite is the classic croissant which comes from the heart. Izola’s croissant is one of their most sought-after items, but it almost wasn’t on the menu at all. Brown was never particularly fond of croissants, but one day his partner, Chen, requested that he attempt to make one for her, and voila! The Izola croissant was born.
Photos: San Diego Bakery, Izola, Rated No. 1 in U.S., According to Yelp
For new customers, Izola is sure to rise to the occasion with its delicious pastries and an overall urban vibe. The studio loft turned bakery features live performances on Saturdays and Sundays showcasing local artists, the perfect addition to your olive sourdough and “hot potion” (a fan favorite peppermint tea with a Moroccan twist).
Izola has an option to order online ahead of time to make sure that your pastry will be hot and ready for pick up. You can visit Izola's website for more on how to order, and different menu options.
Chen and Brown created Izola two years ago during the pandemic as a way to reach out to their community and provide a little joy during a challenging time. The owners would lower croissants down from their third-floor loft window to customers to offer a safe and socially-distanced distribution method.
Since then, business has been booming, especially after its ranking as the #1 bakery across the U.S. Izola holds true to its values and high-quality standard despite the influx of new customers.
"It's bittersweet," Chen elaborated. They are so beyond grateful for the new customers the Yelp rating has brought in, but they still want to make sure that their employees aren't overwhelmed and that they can still impart their values of justice and produce quality baked goods.
They are committed to serving everything hot and fresh from the oven. The owners explained that employees bake continuously throughout the day in order to provide brand-new baked goods to customers.
Izola excels as a bakery not only with its high-quality patisserie but also with "a bigger vision of inclusion and building community," according to Yelp user Lisa B. Brown and Chen elaborated that they strive to create an inclusive and empowering environment for their customers and employees.
They're led mainly by women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Brown explained. They pride themselves in promoting justice for minorities in the community and uniting people through their baked goods.
“Bread is quite a simple thing. People eat bread in all cultures. It is a way that people come together and quite literally break bread. There’s something really community-oriented about what we're doing about just providing something as simple as a loaf of bread to our community,” Chen shared.
Brown and Chen covet their employees to the point where they said they pay them all the exact same wage, regardless of their title or job description. They also created an equity investment platform that is open to anyone. Owners say that their employees believe in their mission for justice so much that they are willing to invest their own money into this business.
“We wanted to give everybody the opportunity to invest in something they love… even our employees are investing if you can believe that,” Brown marveled.
Izola has officially grown out of its space and is ready for an upgrade. But don’t worry if you’re trying to get your hands on a morning bun fresh out of the oven -- this move is still in the works. The new space will be in City Heights and will still provide the welcoming and urban vibe you can get at the lofted bakery now. The new location has yet to be released but it should be able to include more guests and expand the Izola experience. For updates on the new location follow along on Izola's social media.