Going back about eight years now, I had the pleasure of hosting Louie Prager, the co-owner of Prager Brothers Artisan Bread, on one of the early episodes of Lick the Plate when we were on KPRI.
I distinctly remember him bringing a bag full of amazing bread for the interview and assuring me that it all would freeze very well, which it did. But there is really nothing like a fresh baguette or, more specifically, the crispy ends of a fresh baguette.
As I have since come to learn, the French have a thing for those ends as well; they call it “le crouton” or “le quignon.” So, keep that in mind the next time you are walking away from wherever you buy your Prager Brothers bread and you just can’t help yourself from snapping off those beautiful ends.
All that said, when I heard that Prager Brothers had opened a storefront in downtown Encinitas and are soon to open another in Hillcrest, I had to check in with them and get caught up. I had also noticed they were no longer at the Leucadia Farmers Market so I needed to get my fix of some of the best bread in San Diego … and we have quite a selection of local bakers doing amazing bread.
When I reached out to the Pragers, I found out that Louie was taking a break from the business up in Washington state getting an advanced degree in breeding and developing new varieties of grain. The other brother, Clinton, was around though, handling the day-to-day operations of their growing endeavor.
We got together to record a Lick the Plate on the 101KGB show, which is where I got fully up to speed on all things Prager Brothers.
The bread brothers, as they are called, were born and raised in Carlsbad, siblings who shared passion for baking traditional, wholesome bread the natural, hand-shaped way. With Clinton’s degree in music from UC Santa Cruz and Louie’s degree in plant biology from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the pair have successfully combined their talents in art and science to craft a fast-growing community bakery, retail distribution at both restaurants and grocery stores, and soon-to-be three retail bread shops.
With the sharp decline in restaurant clients due to COVID-19, they had to pivot quickly and decided to seek out another retail location outside of North County. Hillcrest was calling and that store should be open soon. The Encinitas store is charming and rustic, just like their bread and, as an added bonus, offers several sandwiches every day built on their amazing bread, along with a nice selection of sweets.
The bread selection is extensive and includes a country sourdough, Miche (farm bread), bauernbrot (German farm bread), classic French baguette, flatbread, Bavarian pretzel, ciabatta rolls and so much more.
Sweets include scones, Belgian chocolate chip cookies, fruit galettes, fig walnut bars, croissants, fruit Danish, shortbread cookie, granola and the list goes on. And trust me, folks, everything they make is amazing.
What got me really excited about the Encinitas location though was the daily selection of sandwiches, available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There are only four but each is just so perfect. The ham and cheese on a baguette made with Beeler’s ham, cave-aged Gruyere, house-made mustard and cultured butter will make you think you are in France. I could eat this sandwich every day.
The spicy Italian on flatbread with Calabrese salami, aged provolone, pickled onion, house-made romesco and organic arugula is fabulous as well. A turkey chimichurri and veggie, both on flatbread, round out the sandwich menu, and, according to trusted sources, are spot on as well.
As somewhat of a sandwich connoisseur, I feel that between Prager Brothers and Moto Deli we have two world-class sandwich joints within a couple of miles of each other on Coast Highway in Encinitas.
Oh, and this is worth pointing out, they have a baking schedule posted on their website that details when they are baking their extensive lineup of offerings. And I should say this as well: This is not the place to go if you freak out on gluten. This is an artisan bread, sweets and more joint based on a time when gluten-free was not a thing.
If you do not have Celiac and do gluten-free for whatever reason, please make some room in your diet for places like Prager Brothers. I mean, really, why deny yourself this slice of old-world goodness?
Find their Carlsbad and Encinitas locations at www.pragerbrothers.com