Coffee Giant Begets Best Baguettes

The recent arrival of La Colombe's new mega-cafe/bakery/rum distillery on Frankford Avenue has been more a Fishtown "event" than the mere opening of another coffee shop. Of course, there are great coffees - including single varietals made in the "pour-over" style co-owner Todd Carmichael once publicly mocked! But the new star here is the bakery that resulted from the passion of Carmichael's longtime partner, Jean-Philippe Iberti. With head baker (and Parc alum) John McGrath at the ovens, which send a roasty perfume throughout this soaring, rehabbed old warehouse space, this is home to what is now unarguably Philadelphia's best baguette, its toasty brown crust shatteringly crisp, its pliant interior magnetic with a slow-fermented, holey crumb. That's why the best thing to nibble here is the simplest: a ham-and-butter sandwich (also known as "jambon-beurre"), which Iberti says "is my favorite French icon ... Less is way more!" Actually, make that more, more, more.

- Craig LaBan

Ham and butter baguette, $5, La Colombe, 1335 Frankford Ave.,