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I've hunted for the best croissant around Seattle for a decade and counting.

The official hunt began when I was a wee 17-year-old bisexual working my first coffee job at Walnut Street Coffee in Edmonds. It was the place to be in Edmonds in the early aughts, known for its large crowd of regulars pushing 75 and older.

Walnut grounded my passion for baked goods, introducing me to the croissant-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away lifestyle, but I've been obsessed with baking since childhood. Truly obsessed. When I was in 8th grade, I made a cake almost every day after school. I realized I'd gone too far when I was regularly inviting 10 to 15 friends over for cupcake competitions that lasted around five hours.

There's something seductive about a good croissant. The flake. The butter. The pairing with good coffee. I did a tally recently, and I estimated I've eaten 1,000 croissants in about ten years. Considering all that eating, I've been asked to share my gatherings with the public.

So, here are Will Darling's top three croissants in Seattle.


THE BEST CROISSANT IS SEA WOLF'S CROISSANT IN FREMONT

The first time I ate a Sea Wolf croissant, my friend laughed at me because of my facial expression. I was in awe. My face looked like Rihanna had just asked me out on a date while wearing this outfit. I was shocked by the complexity of what I was experiencing. When I pulled the croissant apart (which is how I eat every croissant), I could see what looked like an infinite amount of layering inside. Turns out, it has 27 layers. TWENTY-SEVEN LAYERS. Are you kidding me? How do they make these?

I needed to know the secret behind these James Beard-nominated bakery croissants, so I reached out to Lane Bestold, a long-time Sea Wolf baker, to get the deets.

Making a croissant “is literally an art form, and people have no idea how much labor goes into it,” Bestold told me. The croissants take at least 72 hours to make (a three-day process!!!), and he said it “is the most technical thing” he has ever done in his career.

The complexity of the croissant-making process goes even beyond technical skill—it is a multi-sensory process. “The croissant literally is alive,” Bestold shared. “You are creating life. People think that the bakers are in control of this process, but it is actually not true. It is a dom/sub relationship and you are like a service top. You are listening to the croissant. It is telling you what to do. If you push it too far—it’s not going to be right." He uses every sense to tune into the needs of this pastry. No wonder they are so. damn. good.

Find more info on Sea Wolf Bakers here.


THE RUNNER UP CROISSANT IS THE CROISSANT AT TEMPLE PASTRIES IN THE CENTRAL DISTRICT

This is a classically delicious croissant. Almost as good as Sea Wolf, but not quite as fabulous. (The taste of the butter in the croissant at Sea Wolf is superior to Temple Pastries.)

What makes this bakery special? “After two years of work you get access to profit sharing,” Eliza Summerlin, a long-time food service professional who's worked at bakeries across town and is currently the Central Co-Op's cheesemonger, told me. What does this mean? You essentially “become an owner of the business." Love this.

Find more info on Temple Pastries here.


THIRD-PLACE BEST CROISSANT IS ROSELLINI'S CROISSANT IN BALLARD

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Seeing as we live in The Land of the Rich White Moms, our croissant game is strong. I think if we did not live in The Land of the Rich White Moms, this croissant would take the cake. The technical skills at Temple Pastries and Sea Wolf make those two bakeries really, really hard to beat. But if any croissant had to come close to knocking those two perfect croissants off their delicate little croissant stands, it would be this one at Rosellini's.

Big shout out to my mom, Sharon Richards, for introducing me to Rosellini’s. I first tasted their croissant when she insisted that we get Rosellini’s takeout for her birthday last October. And, WOW, delish. Great flake.

Find more info on Rosellini's here.

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