Porto's - Glendale or Burbank (wonderful prices)
Jongewaard's Bake and Broil - Long Beach (I'm crazy about their old-fashioned chocolate layer cake)
Heirloom Bakery - South Pasadena (I had their red velvet cake at a restaurant, one of the best I've ever had. But I've never seen it in the bakery case, you may have to order in advance)
If you really want to try something different, you could go to one of the many Korean bakeries....Paris Baguette has a really beautiful selection of cakes. There's also a very no-frills Latin American bakery on I believe Normandie & 3rd called Continental. Their tres leches cake is supposed to be good, though I haven't had it.
Also Phoenix Bakery in Chinatown -they're always mobbed so they must be doing something right!
Second Phoenix Bakery in Chinatown! I'm throwing in J&J Bakery in the mix too!
Although Jamaica's cakes is indeed situated in a small area, this is a place where size definitely does not matter. I love how they take care of their customers and although they are not cheap, the quality of their cakes are really something else.
As visual proof, take a peek at the birthday cake they made for my 9 year old niece who is cuckoo over Ugly Dolls. All I had to do was email James a picture of what I wanted and I never had to worry about a single thing. I hope you enjoy your visit as much as I did :)
Okay if we're going this route, I'll throw in the Alhambra branch of Kiki's Bakery into the mix. The fluffiest buns ever and nice little sponge cake type cakes. And cheap! And across the street from a very good branch of Banh Mi Che Cali. Personally I think that's the best branch, very busy so always fresh bread , cheap and great che.
I actually like the chocolate cake slice at M Cafe de Chaya, if you're going the vegan route. I just had it and it was surprisingly chocolatey, with a nice puddinglike filling. Wasn't so fond of the hard, dry buttercream section though. It fulfilled my chocolate cake needs yesterday.
Caprice on Pico in Santa Monica is fantastic. They are more of special order place, but they do have cakes already made. Basically it's one big kitchen. We just had a white cake with custard filling with fresh fruit and a buttercream frosting. It was killer and it went very quickly. I also ordered some of their cookies and everyone loved them. Check them out.
Susicakes on San Vincente in Brentwood makes truly outstanding cakes, both layer and sheet. They will also decorate a cake with anything you want - my son brought a picture he'd drawn and they recreated it on the cake. They use top of the line ingredients i.e. only butter in the icing, no cheap replacements. But - you pay for it. They have a good selection of cupcakes so you can taste first to see if it would be worth it to you to splurge for a cake.
Buttercake Bakery and Jamaica's Cakes, both on Pico in West LA are pretty darned good. I've never been disappointed with any of their offerings. Of the two, Buttercake probably has more of what you're describing.
Victor Bene's is alway reliable. Most of their chocolate cakes like the Parisian are standards there. A lot of their cakes tend to look dressed up, but look under their skirts and it's all real...
Angel Maid on Centinela in Mar Vista makes various kinds of cakes that tend to be on the lighter side. Fillings (off the top of my head) are strawberries with cream, passion fruit, mango, chocolate dobash. Originally favored mostly by the Japanese community, Angel Maid now draws from the whole surrounding community.
Massimo's on Washington was bought out by Rainbow Acres. They seem to have gotten back some of their shine - at least on their cakes, cookies, and gelato. The service can be spotty but there's a guy there with a relatively heavy Spanish accent who is very attentive and friendly. If you like very decadent chocolate hazelnut cakes, their version should do you. And do sample the gelatos. They have some very good flavors, particularly their seasonal fruit flavors.
Hotcakes Bakes was mentioned - I do like some of their stuff (canneles, cream puffs, some of their cupcakes), and find their cakes to be good but IMHO suffer from lack of consistency. They do seem to look pretty "rustic" at times. Maybe this might be what you're describing as well but I would expect them to look a little more polished, considering the owner told me she learned her craft as well as worked in Paris.
It sounds like you might live or work in the general part of town that Sweet Lady Jane is located. Have you tried Susina? I would regard Susina as superior in just about every way. Their cakes are regarded by most on this site to be superior to SlJ. SLJ still beats Susina in three categories:
1) Blows off non-celebrity customers with relish - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/387283
2) Having a list of celebrity clients who seem not to know crap about crap.
3) SLJ's lemon meringue tart is killer - I've yet to have one that compares.
Here's the links for some of the places. Victor Bene's can be found mostly at just about any Gelson's.
13222 W Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90066
10595 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064
Angel Maid Bakery
4538 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA
4119 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA
11511 West Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064
Wow thank you very much for these suggestions. I'm on my way, today, to 'Jamaica's Cakes' to try it.
Yes, while I do live close to SLJ, I am finding more and more that I find my best food at small, out of the way places....
I laugh at the people who are willing to stand for an hour, in 90 degree heat, for the most mediocre cupcake in S. Cal...Sprinkles.
I'm seriously tired of the attitude and the 'not so great' cakes at SLJ.
I'm really not so turned on by anything in that place anymore.
So...I am going to value the places where they value their customers, value their product they're selling and, during this rough economic time, will do whatever they have to do to compete in order to endure it.
Interestingly, enough, it's those strip mall places that have me thinking twice about going back...:).
Maybe in this tough economic time it will weed out the bad from the good.
Hey Latindancer (love that name), I was going to rec Susina since you live somewhere close to SLJ and wanted to see a different face with nice bones and a good personality. But if you want to head out to Jamaica's Cakes, I won't stop you - just be forewarned that it's nothing fancy and kinda small - not that SLJ is grand. If I were you, I'd head down Pico, stop by Buttercake for their awesome cakes and a menu, continue on for another 10 minutes and hit Jamaica's Cakes (grab their menu as well - what they display vs. what they can do are two different stories), then head home and give both a whirl. After a couple hours of spinning, head over to Susina, then let us know what you really think. You live near a gem of a place - don't pass Susina up.
My intention was to go to all of these a few days ago, as you suggested, but the traffic and the smokey skies prevented me from venturing too far.
Today I made it to Susina.
I ordered 3 slices to go....one strawberry shortcake (cake), one cherry pie , and one berry cream cake...
All three were excellent. The cake, itself, was flavorful and dense and perfect. The whipped cream and the fruit was very high quality and wonderful. I highly recommend the cherry pie. The piecrust was flaky and rich.
I'm very excited as I've driven past this place about a thousand times and never really noticed.
Thank you and I'm thinking tomorrow I'll try the other two...:),
Not to sound cocky, but I knew you'd dig Susina - just about everyone does. Now scale back your expectations as far as decor and size, but you can keep your other hopes high for the remaining two on your list.
Not to complicate issues, but since you'll be driving down Pico, you might also consider stopping by La Maison du Pain. If you like French-style breads and pastries, then they're worth the stop. They're about half-way between LaBrea and Fairfax. Bon appetit!
Bulavinaka, thank you! I have been reluctant to mention La Mainson du Pain because I'm afraid once I do the cinnamon rolls won't be there when I go to get mine! I am in love with just about everything in that place...they actually made chocolate truffles a few weeks ago that were some of the finest I've ever tasted. I truly appreciate the recommendation for Susina...all three pieces I bought are gone gone gone!! What a great find.
When I want a decorated cake, I do it myself. Otherwise, I get a whole 8" chocolate cake at Continental bakery on Burbank Blvd. in Valley Village or Mom's BBQ on Vanowen at Hazeltine in Van Nuys. In the city, I'd go to Beverlywood Bakery on Pico or Schwartz Bakery on Pico or Fairfax.
Hotcakes Bakes.....there is one on Centinela just east of Washington, but I remember hearing that they opened one in Hollywood recently.
Cakes look delicious, but I can only speak for the cupcakes, choc chip cookies, brownies, lemon bar and pecan bar :) YUM!! The yummiest!!