In Portland, Ore., a garden of pastry delights

Overheard: Loud rock 'n' roll, gluttonous grunts

Conclusion: Despite the protests ("Overrated!") from the locals in our group, a stop is compulsory for any visitor with a jones for sugar.

Info: 1501 N.E. Davis St.; (503) 235-2666, Open 24/7 "except for certain holidays." Doughnuts from 95 cents. Cash only.

Little T American Baker

Known for: Baker-owner Tim Healea's chewy breads with fine crumbs, Stumptown Coffee, Sally Lunn bread, and a listing in Bon Appétit's 2010 "10 Best Boutique Coffee Shops."

Highlights: Drop biscuit with lemon curd, apple cheese Danish, orange brownie, pretzel bread, seeded hoagie roll, baguettes

Vibe: Modern but warm. The space is filled with light (when the sun is out), thanks to all the windows. Wood accents and flowers add homeyness, and the customers dress as if they were trying to fulfill our every stereotype of the Pacific Northwest. Think jeans, beanies, polar fleece, North Face.

Overheard: Employees who know their stuff; customers who know the menu. Locals rule.

Conclusion: A sublime experience on a Sunday morning, Little T sets the bar high.

Info: 2600 S.E. Division St.; (503) 238-3458, Open 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays. Most pastries $2.50-$3.50.

Tabor Bread

Known for: Tabor says it's the first retail bakery in Portland to mill its own flour, and the breads are baked in a wood-fired oven in the middle of the store — very cozy.

Highlights: Savory bread pudding, oat scones with currants and orange, rye Pullman loaves, light rye bread and baguettes

Vibe: Tissa Stein took a former medical building and transformed it into a neighborhood gathering spot. The bakery has a homey feel, with hardwood floors, an open-beam ceiling and a scattering of tables, chairs and bar stools, all occupied by customers clad in what seems to be a municipal requirement: jeans, beanies, fleece

Conclusion: Cool neighborhood hangout, especially for those who embrace wood-fired breads made from house-milled grains — which undoubtedly includes 99% of the city's residents.

Info: 5051 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.; (971) 279-5530, Open 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Prices vary; scones $3.25.

Pearl Bakery

Known for: Pearl Bakery, on the edge of downtown's Pearl District, opened in 1997, which makes it one of the more established enterprises on this pastry tour. The breads are sold to local restaurants and grocery stores and to customers who took up every seat in the small storefront during our visit. Most recent accomplishment? A line of artisan chocolates.

Highlights: Ham and Gruyère croissant, cinnamon crowns, apple hazelnut paws, macarons, baguettes, Pugliese bread, roggenbrot (dark rye)

Vibe: Pearl is a neighborhood hangout, but the huge baking kitchen in the back is a reminder of its large commercial enterprise. It's close to Powell's City of Books and not surprisingly, many of the customers brandished printed matter in one hand and a mass of carbohydrates in another.