Best Bread in the ’Burbs

Great Harvest Bread Co. of Alexandria
Fairlington Centre, 1711 Centre Plaza, Alexandria, VA, (703) 671-8678

Great Harvest Bread Co. is a chain, but so what. You won’t care once a friendly employee slices off a massive hunk of “apple scrapple,” with its brown-sugared crust and its embedded bits of fruit, and then invites you to slather it with creamy, salted butter—at no charge. But these people take their bread too seriously for you to just dabble with samples. Owners Rajaa and Anwar Maysaud mill their own flour; they even sell whole wheat, freshly ground on the premises (though you’re really better off letting them do the baking). Staples include honey whole wheat and the slightly sweet premium white, a bread almost too good to muck up with sandwich ingredients. Other varieties (artisan grain, pumpernickel rye, apple scrapple, and a seedy variety called Dakota, among others) change throughout the week. The amazing cookies and pastries in the sweets case come from nearby Landmark Bakery (670 S. Pickett St., Alexandria), which is owned by Rabih Maysaud, Anwar’s brother. While it’s tempting to take the bread and run (into your car and eat it), don’t be afraid to take the cannoli, too.

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