Best of 2003: Best Croissant

St. Tropez Bakery & Bistro
947 South Coast Highway101 #103D, Encinitas

The outstanding almond croissant here is done exactly as you'd find it in Paris (or on Manhattan's ritzy Upper East Side). The pastry is buttery, and the almonds aren't merely studs on the exterior, but recur in the interior as a generous ribbon of almond paste running through the fluffy pastry layers. You don't even need butter. You may need an hour on the treadmill to work off the calories. It's worth it. (But you can't sleep too late if you want to grab these items -- they usually sell out well before noon.)

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