HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


Dessert Only: SF Restaurants

Hello Chowhounders! I am on assignment to eat at 5 restaurants JUST for dessert one night next week. One of them will need to be Bar Tartine.

Places I've eaten lately: A16, Rubicon, Delfina & Campton Place. Menus I've seen recently: Citizen Cake & Perbacco. Meals I will have soon: Oliveto & Quince.

Are there any pastry chefs out there whose work I absolutely must not miss on this one night of extreme dessert eating? I want to eat desserts that offer a range of styles and tastes. From American to European, experimental to down home.

I'm open to suggestions! Thanks for any input you have!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The best regular-menu desserts I can recall from the past year or so were the panna cotta at Incanto and the cannoli at Pizzeria Delfina.

    A friend who's not usually a big dessert fan was raving about Coi's foie gras and olive oil ice creams (two different flavors).

    7 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Incanto's panna cotta strikes gold every time. The texture is heavenly.

      Pizzaiolo's new pastry chef is excellent, though you're probably just looking for places in the city.

      Foie gras ice cream, eh? Foie gras and ice cream are two of my favorite foods, but...
      I read an interview with the exec chef at The Fat Duck where he used foie gras ice cream as an example of experiments in molecular gastronomy that just don't work. Perhaps the pastry chef at Coi knows something Blumenthal doesn't.

      1. re: Morton the Mousse


        Sounds like a bad idea, but so did bacon ice cream and chocolate blood gelato, both of which I enjoyed.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I can't believe that no one's yet asked you what "chocolate blood gelato" was, RL.

      2. re: Robert Lauriston

        Are ice creams at Coi made by the pastry chef or Daniel Patterson? For some reason, I was thinking Daniel made them. Off topic, he used to make a tiny foie gras truffle (rolled in pistachios) as an amuse at Elisabeth Daniel that veered toward the sweet side...not a dessert, but so perfect.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Curious about going into listed restaurants just for desserts. How does that work? Do you still make reservations? Should dessert diners only arrive after a certain time not to interfere with full diners? Lastly, do you tell the server or host that you only want dessert? Thanks would like to try Coi for dessert but am shy to how welcoming the management would be only ordering dessert.

          1. re: foodseek

            You can order all desserts at COI in the lounge. It's a great place to pop in.

        2. If you're in the Mission for Bar Tartine (you poor dear), try that olive oil/Maldon salt sundae at Bi-Rite Creamery.

          Maybe Range's desserts would be worth trying.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Atomica

            I walked by Bar Tartine yesterday afternoon and looked at the menu in the window since the OP specifically mentioned Bar Tartine was not optional. No desserts listed on the menu. For a place run by a well-respected bakery, this seems odd.

            1. re: Atomica

              They just neglected to put the dessert menu in the window. Here's one report on a couple of them:


            2. re: Atomica

              Just had my first Bi-Rite Creamery experience yesterday. This is the best Ice Cream- I had the banana ice cream delicious and different texture from my boyfriends caramel ice cream which was wicked, creamy and rich. Picked up some toffee cookies that were outstanding.

            3. Aziza. They have always had good desserts, but they have a new pastry chef who I am a fan of. She always makes the most wonderful sweets.

              4 Replies
              1. re: rworange

                The pastry chef to whom you're devoted has resigned.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Rats. Thanks for the update. I suspected in might not last a long time ... but still.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    I've always really liked Aziza's desserts, and I didn't even go during his 3-week stint. I'd definitely give Aziza's desserts a try.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      but her protege still works there and he is doing a wonderful, if not better job

                  2. Citizen Cake has awesome desserts.

                    Babette's Larder- makes a chocolate tort that is so delicious

                    One of my new addictions because I love coconut is the coconut pie at Cafe Gratitude , all raw. I can't get enough, not the caliber you are asking for but if you like coconut this is heaven.

                    Other than that I have not ordered dessert after dinner for some time, I prefer port.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Lori SF

                      I second the desserts at Cafe Grattitude-- especially the mudslide pie. Amazingly rich and creamy, but not overly sweet or heavy.

                    2. Coi's desserts are exceptional as well.....

                      1 Reply
                      1. Town Hall - Butterscotch & chocolate pot de creme and their 7 chocolate hot cocoa. My fiance lives for these whenever we're up north.

                        He also swears that the best dessert he's had up there in recent months is the butterscotch pudding with caramelized bananas at Scott Howard.

                        15 Replies
                        1. re: brekkie_fan

                          As highlighted by the pastry chef rworange admires, Townhall uses artificially flavored butterscotch chips in their pudding. As someone obsessed with the world of baking, I found the essay enlightening.

                          1. re: Atomica

                            Sometimes chefs prefer artificial flavors for various reasons:


                            Using artificially-flavored chips might allow for an intense butterscotch flavor without the cloying sweetness of the real thing.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              If a person knows how to make butterscotch from scratch it is far from cloyingly sweet. It can be gorgeous and subtle and a profound memory awakening! This is like saying Spam is better than ham because it's always going to taste the same.

                              1. re: sailorbuoys

                                Not better, just different. I'm extremely prejudiced against artificial anything but that doesn't mean it might not taste good.

                                It's sort of like Hukilau serving Spam musubi.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Have you tasted an artificially-flavored butterscotch chip recently? It's much more "cloyingly sweet" than homemade butterscotch.

                                2. re: sailorbuoys

                                  Amen. RL, it doesn't happen often, but you are way off on this one.

                                  1. re: rabaja

                                    I didn't know they were artificial chips and while I would prefer they were homemade, the dessert was divine, easily the best part of the meal for us. There's a danger of being a culinary luddite (not my term, but a great one) and missing some wonderful things to eat.

                                    1. re: Earl Grey

                                      I've had it. I've also had the butterscotch pot de creme at Boulevard- made with real butterscotch- and, to my taste, it was superior.

                                      I know that the chocolate-butterscotch pudding is very popular at Town Hall, and since taste is subjective, I judge no one for it. What I wonder, however, is how many of the dessert's fans have tried the real thing.

                            2. re: brekkie_fan

                              I too love the Butterscotch & Choco Pot de Creme at Town Hall, but has anyone tried the Butterscotch Pudding at Yankee Pier? There's vanilla bean in it and it's so creamy and smooth. Any idea if they use real butterscotch in that one?

                              1. re: VirgoBlue

                                I've heard they also use the butterscotch chips at Yankee Pier.

                                1. re: VirgoBlue

                                  The butterscotch pudding at One Market, Lark Creek, Yankee Pier, etc., is superior to Town Hall's, but I too have heard they use the chips. To be honest, I'm not sure I care if it tastes good.

                                  1. re: The Dive

                                    I agree. As long as my tastebuds are happy, I'm happy.

                                    1. re: VirgoBlue

                                      Have you had butterscotch pudding made without chips?

                              2. I don't eat often enough at very-high-end restaurants like some mentioned above to have a comprehensive view, but my favorite desserts for a while now have been at Range--sometimes fairly experimental, often "just" a perfectly executed fruit crostada with impeccable fruit and crust.

                                1. I'm not big on sweets, but the rhubarb cobbler and chocolate fudge cake I tasted at Salt House last week were awfully good. The pastry chef was named a rising star chef in the Chronicle recently, if I'm not mistaken.

                                  1. OK. So so far what's been reccomended is:
                                    Salt House, Range, ?Aziza?, Incanto, Coi, Town Hall (probably not for me because I prefer non-artificially flavored desserts), Pizzaria Delfiina and Citizen Cake.

                                    Has anyone liked anything at Ame? Myth? Boulevard? Slanted Door? Postrio? Scott Howard?

                                    Thanks for all your feedback! It's enlightening indeed!
                                    (A full report is promised of course.)

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: sailorbuoys

                                      Did you see the report just above on dinner at Boulevard? Sounds like the desserts were a highlight for the poster.

                                      1. re: sailorbuoys

                                        I haven't been to Boulevard in over a year, but I found the desserts to be absurdly cloying, absolutely no subtlety or balance. I couldn't finish my ice cream, and I always finish my ice cream. Then again, lots of people seem to like them.

                                      2. I had a Green Tea "Affogato" with Pistachio Ice Cream and Biscotti I loved at Ame. It was heavenly. I didn't get to try any of their other desserts, though.

                                        1. What about Farallon? I haven't been yet, but I am planning to splurge on dessert at the bar for my birthday next month. Their pastry chef is pretty famous. http://www.farallonrestaurant.com/men...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Mari

                                            I love Luchetti's desserts but there's something irritating about selling your cookbook on the dessert menu. That is one long pastry selection!

                                          2. Try dessert at Boulevard! Fantastic!

                                            1. The best desserts I have had recently are at Presidio Social Club, definately skip the savory food and try all the desserts!

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: pchef

                                                this Presidio Social Club was impossible to find on the Internet, no menu listed... sorry, I might have tried it had I been able to find it!

                                                  1. re: sailorbuoys

                                                    Type it into Google and it comes right up.

                                                1. I am currently in love with the Dessert menu at One Market. Try the Butterscotch pudding. I am not much of a Butterscoth fan but this is great. Also they do a nice mini dessert platter so you can have a variety. I recommend the mini Banana Cheesecake or any of the desserts with cooked fruit. Yum! Enjoy