Going on a bakery spree this weekend
I plan to hit every new(ish) bakery in Los Angeles. Would love to hear any specific recommendations/warnings Chowhounds have (Great cookies? Tragic cream puffs?) and, of course, let me know if there's another place that should be on the hit list.
(A clarification: I am open to everything except cupcakes. Nothing against them, you understand; I just think we need some time apart.)
Back Door Bakery, Silver Lake
Bluebird Bakery, Culver City
City Bakery, Santa Monica
Delilah Bakery, Echo Park
Hot Cakes, West L.A.
Sophie's Bakery & Cafe, Bel-Air
Lots of great postings... a couple more that I didn't see while feverishly skimming or maybe I just missed them...
13222 Washington Blvd
Los Angeles (Mar Vista), CA 90066
Located behind the Van's shoe store on the corner of Washington and Redwood, Massimo's makes Italian derived cakes, cookies, pastries, and gelato. Anything resembling a cake or chocolate is a sure-bet, especially the chocolate-hazelnut torte and the pear torte. Also save room for gelato or get it to go in cups or pints. The one gelato flavor I can't get out of my head is the green apple-caramel gelato loaded with small flecks of green apple - with the skin - and caramel swirled through the gelato.
2383 Lomita Blvd
Lomita, CA 90717
Located in a small strip mall on the corner of Lomita and Pennsylvania, right next to Gaja's, Chantilly has some of the best executed pastries, cakes, and other desserts that this blogger has ever had. These desserts have a strong influence from both French and Japanese cultures, both in terms of flavors and aesthetics. Mousses, chestnuts, fresh and flambeed fruits, black sesame, and green tea are some of the ingredients that come to mind. One truly gets the sense that every single item in the case must earn its spot by being the absolute best in flavor and presentation. I can truly say that I have never been underwhelmed by anything at Chantilly, from their chestnut mousse monte-blancs, to their macha tea sponge rolls. Even their coffees and teas are excellent and brewed to order.
But the real stars of Chantilly are the cream puffs. These are made to order as well. The two flavors I am familiar with are the traditional cream puff with a choux filling, and the cream puff with a black sesame-choux filling, topped with black sesame seeds and carmelized shoyu glaze. These cream puffs make those from the big cream puff chain - need I name them - look and taste tired and McDonald-like.
Everything about Chantilly is so well thought out and executed with such passion and creativity that one can only fault it maybe for its location in Lomita, in that Lomita is probably at the geographic far reaches of an Angeleno's eating universe. Believe me though - it is worth the journey.
I was disapointed in Jamaica's Cakes - very ordinary. I'd go a mile or two east to Buttercake & get whatever they've got hanging around (it's very tiny & they don't bake tons of stuff). I love the cupcakes, but if you're scorning them, there's a lot of other delicious stuff (in particular the bundt cakes - which they sell by the slice). I like their orange currant scones because they are smallish & not heavy, but lovely.
I am a huge fan of Portos Bakery in Glendale. They also have a location in Burbank. The cakes are decadent. My favorites are the Opera, Chocolate Parisienne, and the Chocolate Grand Marnier. This cuban bakery does a fine job with cakes.The selection of ready made cakes are endless and they also sell individual slices.
Again, thanks to everyone.
Wanted to give you guys my semi-final hit list. I'm only (!) going to 10 bakeries, selected by vintage. (I will definitely visit the other at another time, but I will be swamped only by visiting places that opened over the last 12 months!
Hot Cakes Bakes
Maison du Pain
Sophie's Bakery & Café
#1 Amandine (outstanding croissants)
#2 Breadbar (killer Emmenthaler rolls)
#3 Sweet Lady Jane (excellent date bars)
#4 Maison du Pain (excellent croissants, breads)
Other Worthy Stops:
(Nice little baked goods, but $$$ and impossible parking)
Joan's on Third (great lemon tart (or bar)
Not Worthy IME:
Delice (worst bakery we've been too)
Michel Richard (only had croissants--not impressed)
Susina (Marginal have been 2x--nothing great (sorry). Will try again especially the croissants as urged by another CH :)
PLEASE, PLEASE report back with your experiences (specific recs at each bakery too :)
My Little Cupcake - Ventura Blvd. east of Laurel in S.O.
Aux Delices - Pico Blvd. west of La Cienega
Bread Bar - 3rd St. east of Robertson
Michel Richard - Robertson Blvd. south of 3rd (apple turnover)
Buttercake - Pico Blvd. east of Overland
Sweet Lady Jane - Melrose Ave. east of La Cienega
Boule - La Cienega north of Beverly Blvd.
Almandine - Wilshire Blvd. west of Bundy
I think Liquid Sky is referring to the Russian Bakery located right beside Whole Foods. If that's the case, that would be the Stolichnaya Bakery. We used to live in Hollywood and a weekly ritual was Whole Foods for the healthy and Stolichnaya Bakery for the sinful -- that's our version of a balanced diet! :)
7875 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90046
Some of the desserts are hit or miss but my favorite was their symphony cake. You might also want to add 3 Square Cafe + Bakery to your list. They have a great linzer torte, Berliners every Friday and a yummy chocolate raspberry mousse pie.
3 Square Cafe + Bakery
1121 Abbot Kinney
Venice, CA 90291
AMAZING bakery run by a Russian family on the SE corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Fairfax (West Hollywood). Everything baked on premises. Super-fresh and yummy.
Particularly good are the NAPOLEON cakes, but everything I've had here has been pretty impressive. Not sickeningly sweet like some places.
And get this: Their prices beat the pants off of every other bakery I've been to, either in LA or NYC. A must!!
skip euro pane on colorado blvd in pasadena and head down lake ave to wheatberry. the breads, cakes, tarts and sandwiches are outstanding. alot of employees come from the cooking school and the food is outstanding. they have some great breakfast and lunch items. the only downer is the counter service. can be great or indifferent but the food is well worth it
i find it difficult to compare europane and wheatberry.
wheatberry is an americanized asian bakery. they use more wet heat to steam more than bake. it's good and i like their cake and coffee package. you will likely see many more in the future. and further wheatberry discussions will one day be moved to the chain board.
europane is artisanal. the difference between europane and wheatberry are the ingredients. sumi's using farmer's market produce. the best butter. very good quality cheese. i don't think sumi has plans to open more. and what's best - she's always there.
while there certainly is quality distinction between europane and wheatberry, i do believe that overall, the service and ambiance are better at wheatberry. europane's staff often seems exasperated by explaining the items in the case. at wheatberry, they're usually having to ask someone else what something is.
but if we're just talking product. there's little to compare. sumi chang is one of the great bakers of our time...not my words, nancy silverton's.
how bout beard papa's? they're known for their cream puffs, and while i'm not a huge cream puff fan, they were very moist and fresh. i had plain ole vanilla, but they have them with other fillings like chocolate and green tea. i also had one of those little chocolate molten cake things that they sprinkle confectionary sugar on and it was yummy. they put it in the microwave to warm it and it was divine. man i wonder how many calories are in that little thing. anyhoo, the one i went to is in the hollywood/highland center, but i'm almost positine there's at least one more location (id avoid that one like the plague just cuz of the locale).
also, there's this great thai bakery in thai town (also in noho) in that little shopping plaza on hollywood blvd. (either at hobart, or 1 or 2 blocks over) that has amazing looking desserts and theyre open rather late. i cant remember the name of it, but it's really cool inside, almost fancyish, and i had this stuff there called panchi, which are made w/ taro and corn i think and are lavendar in color. they were served warm and were most excellent. cheap too...i highly recommend it. have fun!
I am going to guess that Unocal was referring to Bhan Khanom Thai (Thai snack house). I LOVE the one in Thai Town and am always disappointed by the bigger branch in NoHo.
But I wouldn't really call them bakeries. The Thai attitude towards bread can be seen in their name for it khanom bpaing - khanom means snack and often means sweet.
Do you mean Hotcakes Bakes on Centinela? Don't do it! Go to Angel Maid instead, Centinela just north of Culver. Or at least do both. Hotcakes is just a sad little place with very dry red velvet cupcakes and old looking lemon bars, the macaroons were pretty good tho.
Don't forget Porto's in Glendale!
Have never heard anything positive about the Backdoor Bakery although maybe my info isn't current. I would definitely include Paris Baquette on Western near 1st and the tiny French Bakery on Vermont in Los Feliz--formerly La Conversation--but I forget its current name. Haven't been in ages but I do remember it as being quite excellent. I'm sure someone houndly will provide correct name and location.
re: Slow Foodie
I love Backdoor Bakery because I'm in the neighborhood and it is an easy walk or drive. If I had schlepped across town to get a croissant I'd probably be pretty fairly nonplussed if not dissappointed. That being said, their apple ugly muffin (big chunks of apple with walnuts and raisins and usually a nicely browned top) is easily my favorite muffin ever.
I heartily second the recommendations for Jin Patissire (especially for the tea service) and EuroPane. I don't think it's worth your time to stop at Bluebird--the food is just okay in my opinion.
I also like Boule on La Cienega, just north of Melrose. It's pricey, but the macarons are light yet chewy and very flavorful.
This is my list working from the westside to east.
Jin Patisserie (abbot kinney in venice)
Wonderful petite pastries. Lovely garden to sit and enjoy sweets and tea.
City Market - I only like the lemon tart.
Bread Bar -(3rd street across from Cedar Sinai) offshoot of Paris' Eric kaisers bread shops.
The breads and morning sweets are fantastic. Especially the pain du chocolate and almond croissant (flattened style like in paris)
Boule (La Cienega, north of beverly blvd)
The macroons and canneles are very good. Pastries are like little jewels.
Overpriced, but beautiful ""Tiffany's-like" space.
Susina- (Beverly and LaBrea)
The chocolate "Bear Cake" is delicious. Tiny Italian cookies are one of the specialties. (yum!)
Skip the pies, big cookies and brownies.
Europane (colorado blvd in pasadena)
When they have it, creme fraiche tart!
2998 Huntington Drive
San Marino, CA
Pretty cakes and pastries with unique flavors (ie rose tea cake), and fresh breads.
Fresh Chinese breads and pastries.
I agree with the BlueBird Bakery for cupcakes; Susina for cookies and cake slices; Sweet Lady Jane for cake; Europane for some pastries; Union Bakery in Pasadena for more pastries. I want to add Le Pain Quotidien - I know it's more of a chain, but they do great tarts and breads. Also, Surfas' canneles, lemon lavendar bars, and huge cookies. =) Have fun!
I love both of your suggestions, chica. Vanille Patisserie is quite beautiful and serene inside, and they do seem to be multiplying in the area. I have yet to taste anything there (it is just so much fun to look!), but with your recommendation I will dive in next time!
JJ Bakery is another very great visual experience; some of their creations are so beautiful! I think it is a fine bakery, but I think the visual aspect prepares me for great expectations that are sometimes not met. I am often happy to look and walk away, but I do like that some of their items are not too heavy and sticky-sweet.
It's been open for just over a year, so not really new, but I'd add Maison du Pain in Mid-City (Pico and Ridgeley). Good chocolate croissants, and they're always adding new things.
And I've been meaning to stop by one of the European-style Koreatown bakeries (Paris Baguette, Wien) which are new to me if not new.
I'd posted about it previously, but the gist of it was that instead of putting a log of almond paste in the middle before baking, they'll slice a regular croissant and smear some vaguely almond-flavored cream on it.
But they'll make it fresh if you call them, so at least they have the customer service part down.
YUM! Please do bring us some photos!
Here are some of my additions:
1225 Wilshire Boulevard in West Los Angeles
Their hot green tea is wonderful, as are their chocolate croissants! Some of their items have a Japanese flair and are not too sweet...
1202 Abbot Kinney in Venice
Her items are museum-worthy, so even if you don't eat here, do window-shop! High tea on her patio is a real treat!
950 East Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena
Everything is delicious! Some Hounds have commented about some service issues here, but I have never experienced anything but courtesy.
Le Pain Quotidien
There are several locations; I like them all!
Here are a few, but you can check for others on your trail.
8607 Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood
11702 Barrington Court in Los Angeles
9630 Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills
Be sure to try their hazelnut spread...by the spoonful. It is often on the tables early in the day, but you might have to ask for it.
I agree with all of these places-- great list, liu! In addition, I'd add:
Wien Konditorei und Cafe
3035 W. Olympic Blvd. (Ktown)
Galleria Cake House
3250 W. Olympic Blvd. #103, market level (Ktown)
I have no idea where the Alcove Cafe sources their cheesecakes, but they're pretty good. Next door is Market Gourmet (or is that the name of the one in on Abbot Kinney in Venice? hmmm...), and they have flourless tortes and whatnot, but I'm usually too busy trying to get cheese samples that I end up being too full for desserty-dessert.
1929 Hillhurst Ave. (Los Feliz)
After mentioning Wien myself in this thread this morning, I decided it was time to stop just driving past on my way to work every day, and went in. I'm going to post my thoughts under the thread someone else just started specifically about Wien... Oh, as for location, it's on the north side of Olympic, just west of Normandie. There's a big sign, and a small parking lot, which I notice is usually full.
WOW!! Sadly i have plans this weekend, otherwise I'd join you!!!
Here are my recs:
Bluebird Bakery, Culver City - Cupcakes!
Hot Cakes, West L.A. - Chocolate Cream Puffs
Susiecakes, Brentwood - Cupcakes!
Although not a bakery, Surfas Cafe has some great an interesting baked goods such as the Lavender Lemon Bar... Yumm!!!