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Apr 3, 2007 04:16 PM

Reopening the Cupcake Discussion

So, I was looking over the cupcake discussions I could find, and all seemed to be about a year old. I was hoping to get people's updated picks for the best cupcakes in LA.

For my part:

DOTS cupcakes on Arroyo Blvd. in Pasadena has yet to be beat, in my mind. I live right down the street from Auntie Em's in Eagle Rock - walking distance, even - and I'll still hop in my car and drive out to Dots for a great cupcake, no questions asked. The price is right, the cupcakes are consistently fresh and amazing (you can even watch them come out of the oven some days), and they've done a great job with the special orders I've sent their way. The bakery itself is cute, but not so great to eat at (you either sit at a counter inside or outside on the very public sidewalk where, more than once, I've met some interesting characters).

Don't get me wrong - Auntie Em's is fine, but it's a little hit-or-miss. Some days, you find delicious, fresh cupcakes with gooey icing and perfect, moist cake. Other days (in fact, today is one of those days) you buy six mini cupcakes for a somewhat high price and find 2 delicious wonderful cupcakes and 4 dry, crumbly little cake-like lumps sporting crystally icing headgear with all the delicious flavor of frosting, but twice the crunch. I don't know what came over me to go to Em's at lunch today (oh wait - yes I do, it was the amazing B.L.A.S.T. sandwich they serve), but I cannot put into words how devistating it is to eat dry, sad looking, expensive little cupcakes (or, worse than actually eating them myself, agonizing about throwing away or the moral ups and downs of trying to force them on my coworkers) .

Sprinkles, on that note, makes me cry. After reading last year's reviews on the place and even dragging myself 3 hours back and forth across town mid-afternoon one hot day last month to "give it a fair chance", I got park half a mile away to wait in line half an hour for overpriced, dry, "fresh" cupcakes, I will not make the mistake of going there twice. Especially not with DOTS just a few offramps away!

Where else should I try?

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  1. Personally I think Violet's cupcakes in Pasadena are much better than Dots - have you tried those?

    1. I had Dots for the first time this past weekend and thought they were much better than Sprinkles. The frosting and cupcake was fresh and tasty. Sprinkles is TOO sweet and not worth the long wait and price. Aunie Em's food is ho-hum too say the least and is probably why I have nver returned after trying them out last year.

      1. I'm not a fan of Dots - gave it three shots and three times was disappointed (I think I have lousy timing), except for their mini chocolate cupcakes, which I was very pleased with.

        I'm a fan of Yummy Cupcakes in Burbank, though some of the flavors are too sweet (at least the frostings are) to my taste. That being said, I really like the peanut butter & chocolate chip, the brown sugar cinnamon, and the lemon cream pie.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ElsieDee

          Definitely understand lousy timing with Dots, I live almost across the street and on the two occasions I've made it there, have been disappointed because most of the selection is gone- or sold out completely. Yummy Cupcakes was better- moister than Dot's... unfortunately, I haven't been able to compare Violet's, since I can never seem to get there when it's open...

          1. re: ElsieDee

            I second the vote for Yummy Cupcakes! I haven't been to many of the places listed, but as a frame of reference I tend to like the homemade style cupcakes as opposed to the fancy ones. The only thing I'm not a fan of at Yummy C. is their chocolate frosting. It seemed a little dry to me. I'm not a huge chocolate fan though, so not a big deal to me. It could have been an off day, too. My favorites are their Brown Sugar Cinnamon, Happy Day, Yummy Cupcake and Strawberry Cream. They don't have all of the flavors all the time, but there's a calendar of flavors on their website and you can make special orders for any flavor.

          2. last week, it was one of my long overdue one-day foodfests - after one solid week of two-a-days at the gym or running, low carb, low everything eating , i started with cupcakes at dot's and violet's - bought 3 cupcakes at each store...only took one bite of's much more expensive, both very, very sweet frosting..cake...okay...nothing to brag about, for the most part, i think auntie em's is better but the damn cupcakes are too big !!! i went from cupcakes to mozza for a pizza ( ate 1/2 ) then i went to farmers market for gumbo ( okay...i recall it being much better last time i was there ) the cornbread...very, dry, i crumbled some of it up into the gumbo...better, the sweet potato chips...stale...tasted okay....tried the english toffee ( johns ? ) overrated ! expensive !! i wanted loteria and a donut from bob's but i couldn't do it !! i had a seminar to attend at table 8 where there were appetizers oh plenty...the best munchie....a grilled short rib and cheese buddies and i tried to tackle the server to steal the whole tray !!! did not care for the "dark" look of the restaurant...didn't get to see the menu....whew !!!

            anyways.....back to cupcakes...dots is a cute little store, the employees were nice and yes, the cupcakes looked good...but i thought they were trying to look too much like sprinkles and a price to match !! violet's was a cute little store too...not as sleek, the employees were also nice , the cupcakes not as "artistic" - i can't really give either the thumbs up but i hope they both next visit to the westside will entail a visit to dainties...i'm looking forward to that.....back to tthe gym !!!

            1 Reply
            1. re: kjs

              Your capitulation to the Gods of Eating after being so good sounds very, very familiar!!!!

            2. Try Buttercake Bakery! Their cupcakes are divine, in my opinion...and very much like "homemade," but in a good way. :) Check out their website:

              5 Replies
              1. re: foodieqt

                I think Ledas in Sherman Oaks surpasses all of the above (at least to adult tastes.)
                Small cupcakes w/ real buttercream frosting in amazing flavors. Lovely presentation. Moist cake - just right frosting - not that overly sweet stuff that kids crave. You know, that box of confectioners sugar mixed w/ shortening of some sort. (On the other hand, my kid won't touch real buttercream.)

                1. re: mrpullings

                  earlier when i posted my dots, violet and auntie em's comments, i should have mentioned that i've tried leda's...also, when i try these places, i try to pick-up c-cakes for a few other friends that have a sweet tooth similar to mine ...i also did this with far, the consensus has been leda's ....

                2. re: foodieqt

                  Just went to Buttercake today for the first time. Tiny store front but the goods are first rate. The cupcakes are like homemade in a good way as you said, and they have those little 75-cent cupcake cuties with the frosting and coconut shreds sprinkled on top. I also took a box of various yum-yums to go like their espresso cookies, Passover brownie, lemon bar, raspberry bar, and a couple of Easter petit fours that even a guy like me thought they were too cute to pass up... my family of four divvied up everything except the raspberry bar and truly enjoyed them all.

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    A third vote for Buttercake. I was standing in line at Sprinkles telling people to go there instead next time to avoid the crowds, and once I tasted Sprinkles goods I regretted having given them a chance myself.

                    Buttercake tastes and looks homemade in all the right ways. If I had more time, a little more experience, and a lot more people to share with, Buttercake is what i would want my baked treats to look like.

                    Sprinkles may be more polished looking but tastes just plain bad.

                    1. re: Pei

                      A fourth vote! I got cupcakes there about a year ago for a friend's birthday and they were excellent.

                      Although I have to say that if I have the time and inclination, I much prefer my own homemade to any storebought, no matter how good.