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Eat all the pastries at Hans and Harry’s Bakery

You can order online to beat the crowds, but don’t skimp on the overindulgence

A fresh fruit strudel square, as opposed to Hans & Harry's more famous, 24-inch version
A fresh fruit strudel square, as opposed to Hans & Harry's more famous, 24-inch version

You have to wake up pretty early in the morning to beat the lines at Hans & Harry’s Bakery. The Euro-style cake and pastry shop has been luring customers to a shopping center in the South Bay community of Bonita for three decades, with no signs of slowing down. Actually, it expanded its storefront last year, absorbing a neighboring suite to make room for yet more glass cases and counters. Which means, these days, lines are less likely to spill onto the sidewalk.

Place

Hans & Harry's Bakery

5080 Bonita Rd b2, Bonita, CA

That said, when I show up at 6:45am, it’s mainly ritual that impels me to take a number from the ticket-roll at the entrance. The only other customer I see is already on his way out with a box of goodies and a knowing nod in my direction. It looks like I’ll have plenty of time to scan the many dozens of options, and hopefully whittle my order down to a sane number of pastries. A few minutes later, I’ll leave with two boxes full, but not before noticing the shop has filled up, and several additional clerks have appeared to assist a flow of ticket-waving customers.

Take a number when you enter the expanded bake shop.

What inspires crowds to show up each morning? The shop will tell you it’s a signature pastry: the fresh fruit strudel.

The strudel is said to be Austria’s answer to baklava, though it replaces phyllo dough, ground nuts, and honey with puff pastry, fruits, and/or sweet cream cheese. With or without the dairy component, strudels tend to be filled with jams or preserves, so the fact Hans & Harry’s uses fresh fruit already makes this one stand out. That, and that the bakery’s locally-famous strudel measures 24 inches long!

The cherry bavarian danish, with Bavarian cream and candied cherries

Okay, obviously, that $31 order is clearly more of a party strudel. For $5.25, you can order an individual serving, built upon a four-inch puff pastry square. Either way, toppings include plenty of strawberries, plus kiwi, blueberry, preserved apricot, and a decadent Bavarian cream. Yes, it’s worth any wait.

However, so is everything else I managed to eat. Let’s start with the Bavarian danishes. For those less partial to puff pastry, all the same additions to the fresh fruit strudel are offered atop a remarkably fluffy, sweet bread. Seriously, this is a far cry from your flat, coffee shop danish. It’s like eating custard and fruit on a light, sweet brioche. I do love a good puff pastry, but it turns out the danish is my preference. Even better is the glazed, cherry Bavarian Danish, which pairs that luscious cream with candied cherries.

Blueberry muffin, with blueberry jam filling

Shop founders, Hans Zandee and Harry Eijsermans, are neither Bavarian nor Austrian: they’re Dutch. They already shared decades of combined baking experience when they launched their shop, back in 1991. But if you need any more evidence that experience matters more than heritage, consider this: when Hans retired in 2015, Harry was joined by a new baking partner, Sumi Campbell.

According to the shop’s web site, Campbell came to San Diego from Singapore, by way of New York. She boasts a baking degree from Culinary Institute of America, and briefly worked at Hans & Harry’s prior to opening her own bake shop, up in Carmel Mountain, called Sumi’s Oven (I’m sorry to have missed that one!).

A cannoli from Hans & Harry's Bakery

So it may be appropriate to think of the shop as Hans & Harry & Sumi’s, but either way, you’re in for a treat. Everything I’ve tried has been superb: a chocolate éclair practically bulging with cream ($4.25); a blueberry muffin, with blueberry jam in its center ($2.50); and the prettiest cannoli I’ve laid eyes on ($3.25). And it probably tells you all you need to know about the shop that the chocolate croissant ($3) isn’t the typical pan au chocolat — a rectangular pastry filled with a bit of chocolate. Here, it’s a croissant, sliced in half, then filled with chocolate and cream, then glazed with chocolate and dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

A decadent chocolate croissant, with confectioner's sugar and cream

Hans & Harry recently added an online ordering system, so it’s easy to order the night before, then bypass the line to pick up your box of baked gluttony. Added benefit, you can order variations of that 24-inch strudel, including black forest and the Austrian-traditional apple. But for my money, it’s still worth taking a number if it means you go home with a second box, filled with better than expected treats like this one.

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A fresh fruit strudel square, as opposed to Hans & Harry's more famous, 24-inch version
A fresh fruit strudel square, as opposed to Hans & Harry's more famous, 24-inch version

You have to wake up pretty early in the morning to beat the lines at Hans & Harry’s Bakery. The Euro-style cake and pastry shop has been luring customers to a shopping center in the South Bay community of Bonita for three decades, with no signs of slowing down. Actually, it expanded its storefront last year, absorbing a neighboring suite to make room for yet more glass cases and counters. Which means, these days, lines are less likely to spill onto the sidewalk.

Place

Hans & Harry's Bakery

5080 Bonita Rd b2, Bonita, CA

That said, when I show up at 6:45am, it’s mainly ritual that impels me to take a number from the ticket-roll at the entrance. The only other customer I see is already on his way out with a box of goodies and a knowing nod in my direction. It looks like I’ll have plenty of time to scan the many dozens of options, and hopefully whittle my order down to a sane number of pastries. A few minutes later, I’ll leave with two boxes full, but not before noticing the shop has filled up, and several additional clerks have appeared to assist a flow of ticket-waving customers.

Take a number when you enter the expanded bake shop.

What inspires crowds to show up each morning? The shop will tell you it’s a signature pastry: the fresh fruit strudel.

The strudel is said to be Austria’s answer to baklava, though it replaces phyllo dough, ground nuts, and honey with puff pastry, fruits, and/or sweet cream cheese. With or without the dairy component, strudels tend to be filled with jams or preserves, so the fact Hans & Harry’s uses fresh fruit already makes this one stand out. That, and that the bakery’s locally-famous strudel measures 24 inches long!

The cherry bavarian danish, with Bavarian cream and candied cherries

Okay, obviously, that $31 order is clearly more of a party strudel. For $5.25, you can order an individual serving, built upon a four-inch puff pastry square. Either way, toppings include plenty of strawberries, plus kiwi, blueberry, preserved apricot, and a decadent Bavarian cream. Yes, it’s worth any wait.

However, so is everything else I managed to eat. Let’s start with the Bavarian danishes. For those less partial to puff pastry, all the same additions to the fresh fruit strudel are offered atop a remarkably fluffy, sweet bread. Seriously, this is a far cry from your flat, coffee shop danish. It’s like eating custard and fruit on a light, sweet brioche. I do love a good puff pastry, but it turns out the danish is my preference. Even better is the glazed, cherry Bavarian Danish, which pairs that luscious cream with candied cherries.

Blueberry muffin, with blueberry jam filling

Shop founders, Hans Zandee and Harry Eijsermans, are neither Bavarian nor Austrian: they’re Dutch. They already shared decades of combined baking experience when they launched their shop, back in 1991. But if you need any more evidence that experience matters more than heritage, consider this: when Hans retired in 2015, Harry was joined by a new baking partner, Sumi Campbell.

According to the shop’s web site, Campbell came to San Diego from Singapore, by way of New York. She boasts a baking degree from Culinary Institute of America, and briefly worked at Hans & Harry’s prior to opening her own bake shop, up in Carmel Mountain, called Sumi’s Oven (I’m sorry to have missed that one!).

A cannoli from Hans & Harry's Bakery

So it may be appropriate to think of the shop as Hans & Harry & Sumi’s, but either way, you’re in for a treat. Everything I’ve tried has been superb: a chocolate éclair practically bulging with cream ($4.25); a blueberry muffin, with blueberry jam in its center ($2.50); and the prettiest cannoli I’ve laid eyes on ($3.25). And it probably tells you all you need to know about the shop that the chocolate croissant ($3) isn’t the typical pan au chocolat — a rectangular pastry filled with a bit of chocolate. Here, it’s a croissant, sliced in half, then filled with chocolate and cream, then glazed with chocolate and dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

A decadent chocolate croissant, with confectioner's sugar and cream

Hans & Harry recently added an online ordering system, so it’s easy to order the night before, then bypass the line to pick up your box of baked gluttony. Added benefit, you can order variations of that 24-inch strudel, including black forest and the Austrian-traditional apple. But for my money, it’s still worth taking a number if it means you go home with a second box, filled with better than expected treats like this one.

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