Best Bread and Best Deserts in LA
I throw in my vote as well for Rockenwagner ( I have come to prefer their 3 Square bakery in Venice) for all the things mentioned already as well their premium cookies as well (Napoleon's cap, chocolate-covered nougat circles). Hans, like many Austrian transplants, seems to like to do things in a big way, and many of his pastries and breads are big in size as well as flavor.
1121 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
A trip to 3 Square also sets you up to go to Jin Patisserie that is a French-Asian fusion patisserie. It's literally across the street and half a block down from 3 Square on Abbot Kinney. Kristy's cake desserts, chocolates, cookies and teas are great, but my favorite items there are her macarons.
Amandine has never disappointed me. Everything offered in their shop is top-knotch. Their croissants, danishes, cakes, and pies are memorable.
12225 Wilshire Blvd
(West) LA, CA 90025
Dainties Cupcakes are what Hostess Cupcakes should be for all the right reasons. The concept is very similar, but the differences are the ingredients used are amazing, the whipped cream is actual heavy cream, the chocolate cake is somewhat dense, moist and flavorful, and the ganache topping is, well, real ganache. What also sets Dainties apart from our childhood Hostess cupcakes by whole galaxies is their flavored whipped cream frostings. Like the frosting itself, the flavors that are infused into the whipped cream are handmade. Caramel, mango, coconut, vanilla, cappucino, maple, chocolate, banana, raspberry, and Stupid Chocolate. Bill and Susan will also throw in a couple other flavors here and there, depending on what's available. They're incredibly nice folks and offer a high quality product that has few rivals.
JJ Bakery - three in the San Gabriel valley area - has lots of great baked goods and desserts that are Chinese/Taiwanese influenced and yummy. Their Arcadia location puts you right across the parking lot from Din Tai Fung, a Xiao Long Bao (Shanghainese dumplings) place that elevated this once-underappreciated dish to a much higher plane. They're a Taiwan-based restaurant chain whose quality exemplifies what all chains should aspire to.
1130 S. Baldwin Ave
Arcadia, CA 91007
Van's Bakery in San Gabriel has Vietnamese baked goods and desserts.
860 E. Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Patisserie Chantilly - my personal favorite - is a Japanese dessert shop that has a strong French sensibility to it. They're in the little sleepy South Bay town of Lomita and are known for the maccha rolls, monte blanc, various fruit/cream desserts, and caramel macchiotto mousse cups. However, they are most popular for having insanely delicious cream puffs. Aside from their "standard" version of a cream puff, they also offer a variation where the pastry cream/whipped cream combination is infused with black sesame seed butter, and is garnished with carmelized mesquite honey and kinako. Although somewhat common in Japan, finding these in LA is about as likely as finding a well-aged bourdeaux at CVS.
I must second, Hans Rockenwagner's breads & pastries. He has recently opened 3square in Venice which is a fantastic bakery & next door is his cafe open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have enjoyed his pretzel bread for many years and since he's opend 3square I have tried many new & yummy items such as his bienenstick (sp?) which is pastry layered with custard & topped almonds.....so decadent! This past week I enjoyed a fantastic breakfast at the cafe. I had the chicken hash which was very tasty & much healthier than my usual pastries!
Hollywood/Beverly Hills side of town:
Near La Brea Blvd and Beverly Blvd are LA Brea Bakery, which is good for bread, and Susina which is the best place in LA for dessert.
In Burbank and Glendale there is a great Cuban bakery called Portos. Yummy bread and lots of desserts.
BreadBar has great bread. I especially recommend their Alpine bread, which is baked with emmentaler cheese. Their walnut-raisin and fig breads are also excellent. Same with the cucuma, which has hazelnuts. All the breads are really good. For the sweets, I like their "wall streets" which are chewy little morsels that look like mini muffins, but are about the size of a quarter. I am not a huge fan of their tarts and eclairs.
Rockenwagner has a great pretzel roll and an amazing bacon-cheese pretzel twist.
You should try some of the ethnic bakeries in LA. There is a huge post on that going on right now. Lots of Armenian, Lebanese, Mexican, Korean, and other bakeries being discussed.