Four years ago, when Josh and I moved here from Pueblo, CO, we had just started following the gluten free diet due to Josh’s severe gluten intolerance. We walked into a neighborhood bakery (then called Wheatless in Seattle, now called Olivia Superfree) and were so excited that we could eat anything we saw! It was a surprising and freeing feeling, and over the years, we built a friendship with the owner and her family. We have been cheering on their move to becoming a wholesale bakery, but we were left without a neighborhood bakery. Until now.

Enter Coffee and A Specialty Bakery, conveniently located on the first floor of the multi-story Pike Place Market main building. It faces Western, so if you’re heading to the Market from Pike Street, you need to walk past the Pike Place Fish Company (the guys who throw the fish), down the steps past the Pike Market Senior Center and Delve Kitchen to another pig sculpture, and – viola! – there sits an almost-hidden bakery that serves up pastries done in a classically French technique — and they’re all gluten free!

About two minutes into our walking into the bakery, a customer purchased practically everything from the display. Darn it! Fortunately, the bakery staff were testing a toffee bread pudding and had just pulled it out of the oven. Oh my gosh. That was the first bread pudding that Josh and I have split since 2008.  Rich, creamy caramel sauce covered springy, perfectly moist dough, which was spiked with dried fruit and nuts. It was definitely a bread pudding worth dreaming about!

Coffee and A Specialty Bakery is owned and operated by a fellow Seattle Culinary Academy graduate of the Bread and Pastry Program. The primary baker, Tonya, doesn’t have to follow a gluten-free diet, but she decided to develop gluten-free versions of classical pastries as a result of the nutrition project that all graduates of the SCA programs do. She realized that really good gluten-free breads and pastries are hard to find (we in Seattle are so fortunate to have several top quality offerings), so she decided to use her training to create delicious pastries that require no sacrifice or exception to flavor or texture. I was quite skeptical when she explained her story, as I have had few laminated dough pastries that weren’t oddly textured when they were gluten free. But, I am a believer!

In addition to incredible pastries costing approximately $2 to $4, Coffee and A Specialty Bakery also serve Illy coffee. It’s delicious, and their exploration into some fun and creative espresso beverages is addicting. They offer both dairy and non-dairy beverage options.

Summer is coming, and the bakery is located along a high-traffic area for cruise tourists and Seattle tourists alike. I recommend you go early – and check out their Facebook posts to find out what the lunch specials are. I missed the last Bahn Mi sandwich specials, and I’m still waiting for the fried chicken lunch. Maybe you’ll join me sometime?

1500 Western Ave