If you walk by the Golden Gate Bakery storefront on Grant Street, it’d be easy to assume the legendary Chinese bakery has gone dark for good. But don’t let the boarded-up windows, covered in graffiti and guarded by burglar bars, fool you: Golden Gate Bakery, home to San Francisco’s most famous egg tarts is open. At least, for now.
As fans likely know, the bakery doesn't operate by normal business standards. There’s no regular schedule and sometimes the place goes dark for weeks — even months — at a time. But contrary to what you might expect, the intermittent availability of the bakery’s goods has lent an almost mythical quality to Golden Gate’s Hong Kong-style egg tarts, which have long been regarded as some of the best (and most difficult to attain) in the city.
There is hope, however, for anyone looking to finally get a taste of those golden, jiggly dan tat. Here’s everything you need to know before heading out on a mission to acquire egg tarts from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bakery — from someone who successfully pulled it off just this week.
Is Golden Gate Bakery open?
Yes! At least, it is for now — as of Wednesday, January 3. During a midday visit, an employee confirmed the bakery has been open for a few months now and will be open for an indeterminate amount of time.
Great. What days and hours is Golden Gate Bakery open?
According to the sign on the bakery’s door and despite what you’ll see on Google, the bakery opens at noon, which means that’s probably the safest time to arrive. However, an employee noted that sometimes they may choose to open earlier at 10 or 11 a.m., for those who want to risk it. The bakery closes at 6 p.m. or when sold out.
As for days of operation, the bakery will be open seven days a week with two floating days off. The closure dates change week by week according to the bakers’ schedules but will always be sometime between Monday and Thursday, an employee shared.
In short: Golden Gate Bakery usually opens at noon seven days a week but will be closed two days a week sometime between Monday and Thursday.
So, how do I know if they’re closed?
You can give the bakery a call at (415) 781-2627. On January 3, a worker answered the phone promptly to confirm the bakery was, in fact, open. You can also pre-order your egg tarts by phone if you want to ensure that they’re available when you arrive though that won’t save you from having to stand in line.
You can also check the Facebook page Is the Golden Gate Bakery Open Today? The page doesn’t track the bakery’s operating hours consistently, but it’s updated often enough to be helpful in a pinch.
How much do the egg tarts cost?
Longtime fans should brace themselves as prices have risen over the past few years. The current price for a single egg tart at Golden Gate Bakery is $3.75. A dozen egg tarts cost $45. One important note: This is a cash-only operation so stop at an ATM before you arrive or you can visit the Chase Bank right across the street from the shop.
Ok, but are the egg tarts really worth it?
San Francisco is a city with no shortage of places to get Hong Kong-style egg tarts. But there’s a good reason the golden tarts from this particular bakery have such a cult following. First, they’re handed to you out the front door in a pink pastry box vented to prevent any of your treasures from getting too soft. Regardless of where you’re planning to take them, you must eat at least one while it’s hot from the oven.
The flaky pastry shell finds the ideal balance between buttery soft and sturdy enough to avoid the dreaded soggy bottom. And the custard filling leans more delicate, and less sweet, than versions found elsewhere in Chinatown. Golden Gate’s egg custard doesn’t have the perfumey scent of vanilla either. It’s a jiggly, silky custard with a gorgeous glassy top and enough structure to not spill out all over your hand while you eat.
Is there anything else to know before I head over?
You should be prepared for a wait, even if the line doesn’t seem very long. As of January 3, the bakery wasn’t allowing customers inside. Instead, an employee pokes their head out of the front door, takes orders from the first few parties in line, and disappears back inside. During this time, more than a few passersby stopped to ask those in line why they were waiting outside what appeared to be a closed business. However, after about 10 minutes, the door slid open a crack, and customers exchanged cash for a few of those coveted pink pastry boxes. And so the process repeats. Think of it as an egg tart speakeasy of sorts.
Since it’s impossible to know how long the bakery’s current run will last, wise egg tart fans should head over as soon as possible. But armed with this guide, you’ll at least be better prepared than most. Good luck!
Golden Gate Bakery is located at 1029 Grant Avenue in San Francisco.