Best pastry in Tallinn

1. Pulla Bakery

Location: Old Town, Voorimehe 7. Price: 3€ per bun.

The front of this tiny cafe is just a few windows along a narrow but busy passageway in the Old Town of Tallinn, making it easy to walk past. Inside, though, are the best buns you'll find in Tallinn. Made from incredibly light sourdough, flavourful but not overly sweet, it's easy to get hooked. Seriously: after I recommended it to a colleague, he went every day for weeks until he realized his addiction and started withdrawal. It is run by a mother-daughter pair who (according to them) worked for a year to perfect the recipe before opening up shop. On offer are also sandwiches and focaccia.

2. Põhjala Tap Room (Sundays only)

Location: Kalamaja, Peetri 5. Price: ~4€ per bun.

It is a shame this place only offers pastry on Sundays as part of the delicious all-day diner breakfast menu. On other days the place operates as an American BBQ joint, and always offers many beers on tap as the tap room of Estonian flagship craft brewer Põhjala. The head chef and pastry chef are an American couple and it shows: I can't comment on the meat but the donuts are the best I have ever had outside United States. Elsewhere in Estonia, "donuts" usually mean some other, vaguely related product. Not here: it's the real buttery deal with new flavors every week. The selection rarely overlaps week to week and in addition to donuts, every Sunday brings novelties like babka and others, often making use of seasonal fruit and berries. The creativity, great execution, and overall lovely atmosphere would earn it a confident first place -- if only pastry was available outside those dreamy Sundays.

3. Kringel

Location: Kesklinn, Planeedi 5. Price: 3€ per bun.

I'll be honest: this place probably should rank slighly bit lower. However, I am partial to it because it's the only consistently great vegan pastry in Tallinn. It must be worth something that they achieve such soft texture and outstanding taste while staying vegan. The selection is not wide but has been stable for a while, and many other vegan dishes are served. If you're on a budget, on some mornings you can snatch the previous day's buns for 50% off.

Other recommendations

There are a few other notable places that consistently offer great coffee and great buns, making them a great place for a casual meeting or working for a few hours.

  • Muhu Pagarid: the home-style cinnamon braids, supremely soft inside with a hint of burning sugar on the crust, remind me of the flavours from my grandma's oven. Take-away only from a small shop in Balti Jaama Turg. The buns are actually a sideshow to the main product here: Muhu bread.
  • Fika Cafe: small cafe very central in Telliskivi. Known more as a coffee place, the in-house bakery is still great. Offers sandwiches for the hungrier.
  • Fotografiska Cafe: sitting on the first floor of a photography museum in Telliskivi, this is a great place to spend half a day: after (or instead of) visiting the expositions, you can hang with the (admittedly more well-off) locals here with buns and coffee. It also serves heartier dishes including several kids-specific meals, and is one of the more kid-friendly places among everything here.
  • Karjase Sai: not very central at all, this cafe is close to the tip of the rapidly gentrifying Kopli peninsula. The pastry and coffee are great but the lines can get long, and the slight inconvenience of getting there means I don't go often.
  • RØST Bakery: if you're in Rotermanni, no need to go further. You might have trouble finding a seat but if you do, the bun and coffee will go perfectly together with a quick coffee meeting.
  • Büxhöwden Bakery has three locations, all suburban: Nõmme, Viimsi, and Saue. The buns are great if a bit too sweet; the cardamom braid is my personal favourite. I wouldn't plan to sit down: this is the perfect place to grab something to-go for a picnic or bog hike.