Croissants from Machine Shop Boulangerie, located in the Bok. (Danya Henninger/Billy Penn)

Everyone knows you shouldn’t make decisions on an empty stomach, especially when trying to figure out whether to award a $55 million contract. Or something like that.

Riders requesting specific foods were among the “bizarre, offensive, and unprofessional” actions taken by two Rhode Island officials during a March visit to Philly’s Bok building, where they were evaluating a potential contractor to lead a massive redevelopment project in the Ocean State. 

For their morning meeting with Scout Ltd. — the firm that transformed the Bok from a hulking vacant school into a mixed-use haven for artists and entrepreneurs with a hot bar and restaurant on the roof — the RI guys asked for the conference table to be set with “the best croissant in Philadelphia,” according to The Inquirer.

During the visit, the men reportedly managed to disparage women, ridicule street art, and hate on entire cultures. But the absurd story does present a valid question:

If you had to choose a croissant that would win you a major business deal, what bakeries could help make your case?  

In this, the “Frenchest American city,” options are happily abundant. They range from crisp and flaky or soft and buttery, to zaatar-topped, mole-filled, and waffle-pressed. Check out our picks for Philadelphia’s top contenders for multimillion-dollar croissant.

Everything croissant with goat cheese from Machine Shop. (Danya Henninger/Billy Penn)

Machine Shop

The Rhode Island reps wouldn’t have had to travel far to start their search —– Machine Shop’s everything croissant with goat cheese is the stuff of breakfast dreams, and it’s baked right in the Bok. The boulangerie got its start as a wholesale operation on the building’s fourth floor in 2016 before moving to the ground level retail space two summers ago, making it easier to stop in for any of the breads, cakes, tarts, our sourdough pastries — including a variety of croissants. Get traditional or go with twice baked for a little added crisp. Flavors change seasonally, like one filled with rich cara cara orange.

821 Dudley St. | 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday-Sunday

Oui Pastries

“Yes” is the only thing to say to the savory options at this Old City pastry shop, which in the past has baked up concoctions like kimchi-and-cheese or scalloped potato croissants. The current menu lists a chicken mole croissant — we haven’t sampled it yet but if it’s anything like the chicken mole at South Philly sister location Si Taqueria, it’ll be a must-try. Sweeter options are equally inventive, from cookies and cream-filled to strawberry cheesecake flavored to matcha-topped. Strip away the extras and you’ll find Oui’s traditional butter croissants are classically crisp and airy.

160 N. 3rd St. | 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. everyday

Croissants from Essen Bakery. (Danya Henninger/Billy Penn)

Essen Bakery

Perfectly flaky delights abound at this South Philly bakery, courtesy of four-time James Beard nominee Tova du Plessis. The babkas are all the rage here, but du Plessis’s croissant sandwiches are equally worth lining up for, whether zaatar-topped with egg, labneh, and cheese, or the chicken salad version with cashews and currants. Good news for Fishtown residents: Essen’s second location is expected to open any day now.

1437 E. Passyunk Ave. | 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday-Monday

J’aime French Café & Bakery

Chef and owner Bastien Ornano grew up eating crepes for dinner every Saturday, but he probably had croissants for breakfast. Golden puffed crescents from the Lenôtre pastry school grad are highly recommended at either of J’aime’s locations. The vegan croissant is only listed on the 12th Street bakery’s menu, but the other varieties — chocolate, almond, hazelnut, and traditional — can also be picked up from the Pine Street cafe.

212 S. 12th St. | 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

1644 Pine St. | 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

Croissant at J’aime French Bakery. (Danya Henninger/Billy Penn) Credit: Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

The Kettle Black

“No culinary school learning here,” boast Marc-Andre Basile and Claire Ogilvie on the Kettle Black’s Instagram. Like all their pastries, the croissants are made from scratch and “hand-laminated” by the self-taught, sourdough-baking husband and wife team — Basile is French-born and raised while Ogilvie lived in the country for some years. The Kettle Black also bakes a range of vegan options, including the recent, limited-run pretzel croissant, described by the pair as the “perfect Philly + French hybrid.”

631 N. 2nd St. | 7 to 11 a.m. Thursday-Friday, 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday-Sunday

Bloomsday Cafe

Not so much deconstructed as “waffled,” this mashup found on the Headhouse Square spot’s popular brunch menu presses croissant dough in a waffle iron before piling on the toppings – whipped lemon curd, mascarpone, and a blueberry compote. Nobody’s claiming it’s authentique, just really delicious.

414 S. 2nd St. | 10 a.m. to 2 p.m (brunch)., 5 to 9 p.m. Friday-Sunday, 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday

Artisan Boulanger

This treasured East Passyunk bakery reopened last October following the tragic death of owner Andre Chin in July of 2022. Alongside his wife Amanda Eap, the Cambodian-born Chin, who trained as a pastry chef in Paris, baked some of Philly’s favorite croissants for close to two decades. Their plain version is a lightly buttery delight on its own, but Artisan also serves fruity combinations like a blueberry and cheese croissant, and fresh fruit and cream. On the savory side, egg and cheese croissant sandwiches, with or without sausage or bacon, are filling enough for a day’s worth of heavy decision making. 

1218 Mifflin Street | 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

Ali Mohsen is Billy Penn's food and drink reporter.