Basic things can be extremely difficult to find, particularly in this age of mass production and mass distribution. Small businesses such as independent bakeries are slowly disappearing. Consequently, the good bakeries are increasing difficult to find. The ‘famous’ ones tend to disappoint or leave you underwhelmed.
San Juan in the Berchem district of Antwerp is owned and operated by a Spanish family, and their main business is supplying restaurants and hotels. We learned of them after asking Bar(t)-à-Vin who supplies their excellent bread. Despite being at the opposite end of Antwerp, we get our bread from San Juan.
Their shop is very basic. Not much to look at, to be honest. If you are walking by, you might not even notice it. Their assortment is quite limited. However, what they do have is very good. Furthermore, if you have something specific in mind, such as a loaf of 50% rye / 50% white wheat, you can order it a couple of days in advance.
Mamà is always relaxed and cheerful. The teenage daughter, who sometimes helps out at the front of house, is always nice. Padre is usually stressed whenever the daughter is around — coincidence? The bread is always good. It’s artisanal, but it’s not mentioned; it just is. And, they’re open 7 days a week.
Hard to beat.