Sure, croissants look all sweet and innocent. But those light and airy little things often contain as much saturated fat as Big Macs do. So when you crave a croissant, make it count. I've tasted crescents all over town, happily clogging my arteries to help you find the best. Most of the pastries I tried were pleasing, but several bakeries had me closing my eyes in ecstasy. Let's look at those shops' particular strengths.
Most buttery: Omega Artisan Baking
Minutes after I bought the croissant ($2), butter had soaked through the paper bag. The crescent's golden brown crust was crunchier than necessary, but the inside was the softest thing I've ever bitten into, with the exception of cotton candy. There was so much butter that the center was practically wet. If I could, I'd blissfully eat the insides of Omega's croissants all day every day.
Best toppings: Tasi Cafe
Tasi's croissants ($3) are tasty but not outstanding. They're flaky and soft, though a bit denser than your standard croissant. But the rotating list of homemade jams and butters - which come free with the pastry - will blow your mind. The sweet potato butter was so rich and festive that I began scheming about how to include it in next year's Thanksgiving dinner.
Most authentic: Pistacia Vera
I can imagine sitting outside a little cafe in Paris' Latin Quarter eating this one ($2.50). While the flaky outside had a slight crunch, the middle was heaven - very soft and with nice layering. It didn't have a strong butter taste or sweetness, but there were nice hints of both. I was only disappointed by the crescent's ends and bottom, which were distractingly hard.
Best overall croissant: La Chatelaine
La Chatelaine's croissants ($2) are shaped more like a crab than a crescent, ensuring that the ends are the same consistency as the rest of the pastry. Both the crust and the inside were unusually flaky and soft, and a distinct butter flavor and sweetness made this the most pleasurable croissant experience I've had west of the Atlantic.