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sheet cakes from Pavilions or Costco...are they any good?


i have an upcoming event with about 35 people attending. gulp. i invited a bunch of people without thinking that they'll all show up but so far everyone is expected to make it. thinking i was going to have 15 people i thought i'd get a few cupcakes but turns out they're kind of expensive! $30 for a dozen. yikes.

so that means we're sort of on a budget and now with all these people i'm thinking a sheet cake from costco or pavilions. i'm scared b/c i usually don't like supermarket cakes. i more of a Susina/Huckleberry/ Tartine in SF type of person but b/c of our budget i think i have to get one from one of the two places.

are they any good? i'm thinking of getting a simple vanilla with cream cheese frosting.

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  1. I'd choose Costco over Pavilions any day. They do cupcakes too but they are the jumbo ones.

    2 Replies
    1. re: boogiebaby

      2nd. Costco cakes are actually decent - and you can't beat the price

      1. re: boogiebaby

        Cupcakes have been discontinued at some locations

      2. alternatively, you may want to try Phoenix Bakery in Chinatown, if it fits your budget, and try their strawberry cake.

        Phoenix Bakery
        969 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA

        11 Replies
        1. re: bad nono

          i would normally go to porto's or phoenix and would have no issues but it's all about logistics and time. i need to prep my toddler in the morning then drive to noah's to get bagels and then go and pick up the cake. the party begins at 10am. i chose pavilions and costco b/c they're both in the vicinity. no freeway driving. i would pick up the cake the night before but fridge space is limited and i will already have gluten free vegan cupcakes (which i'm making at home) taking up the fridge space. arrgh. feeling stressed already and the party is 3 wks away!

          1. re: trolley

            Why would you question serving a Costco sheet cake?
            You should question the bagels from Noah's. Noah's bagels are delivered to their stores frozen and rejuvenated.

            You might as well get the bagels at Costco and save a trip.

            1. re: monku

              look monku, i grew up in westchester, ny and in the city. you don't have to tell me about the bagels at noah's. i personally think they're blasphemy but i also hate the artificial flavors and textures of a supermarket cake. noah's does catering. which means when i walk in the door, they'll have split bagels with tubs of cream cheese and a jug of peets from next door waiting for me. i'm hosting about 35 people, half of them happen to be 2 -5 yrs old and i'm not going to have a knife lying around so people can slice their bagels.

              i'm just trying to make it easy as possible. heck, i'd rather have H&H bagels flown in and blue bottle coffee but that's for another day.

              1. re: trolley

                look trolley, I grew up in Great Neck and would never think of of even serving someone a Noah's bagel.

                You didn't mention half are 2-5 year olds....they would be fine with a Costco sheet cake.

              2. re: monku

                what time does costco open? could trolley even get to costco and return in time for the start of the party?

              3. re: trolley

                Given the circumstances of the party, I personally think the cake is part of the fun, as opposed to the center of the party. We have two children (eight and 11), so we've been to our share of parties. Our experience particularly with toddlers/young ones has been that for the most part, kids will do one of two things with the cake - any cake. They will either sit down and eat most of it, or they will poke at it, maybe eat a little frosting, then leave it where it sits and go back to playing. The usual progression at kids parties is such that they will be eating more than their share during the party and/or play like crazy. By the time the cake is brought out, they're usually pretty full of food, drink and most are getting tired or restless. Yeah, there will be adults who will eat the cake, but oftentimes they are so preoccupied with their kids and other parents, that the cake is more of a symbol to cap off the party.

                Try not to get stressed out with this issue. I know there are Costco supporters, but if Costco's hours don't work for you, and it's a choice between one or the other, then you should defer to Pavilions. One thing to also consider is this. I don't know if you have talked with the bakery dept at Costco, but you might want to ask if you can pick up the cake before they open. There must be a service entrance (loading dock, side door, employee entrance, etc.) But again, if not, then just make it easy on yourself. Making the gluten-free vegan cupcakes shows plenty that you care. And most parents will totally understand the juggling act that you are doing - they've been there as well. Have a good time...

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  When it comes to cake for kids (especially toddlers), they don't know the difference or care.

                  I've been to weddings where the cake costs $10/slice, it was good but didn't knock my socks off.

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    thank you for the voice of reason. the gluten free vegan cupcakes are for my husband, one child and some vegan parents. feeling gulity that i'm only serving bagels and cake and nothing in between so i thought i'd throw those in there for fun.

                    1. re: trolley

                      You'll be fine. Unless you're hosting a bunch of people that will scrutinize every bit of food and drink on the table, just enjoy and take lots of pix. I honestly don't even remember the first few cakes we got our older son - either does he.

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        Kids only remember the decorations. Lots of memories of cakes with rocket ships. Today, I am seeing "Ariel" and "Hello Kitty". Ralph's really does a superb job with cheezy decorations. Kids love Ralph's cakes.

                        1. re: maudies5

                          >>Kids only remember the decorations.<< So true, maudies5. The first thing the birthday kid goes for after blowing out the candle(s) are the toys/figures. You could set those decorations in frosted cardboard, and they'd never know.

              4. Definitely Costco. I just used them for a large gathering, had two different kinds of sheet cake (chocolate and carrot) and they both were very good. Many different choices for frosting and decorations and the price is very reasonable, somewhere in the $18 - $20 range. Well worth it, in my opinion, and they accommodate your pick-up time so the cakes are very fresh. People remarked on how tasty they were.

                1. Love, love, love Costco bakery. BUT... except for the actual cake design, your choices are limited to either an all white cake, or all chocolate (at least that's how it was 2 days ago at the Los Feliz branch). If that works for you, then it's a ridiculously great and tasty value at $16.99 for a cake that feeds 48. The only (minor) downside was that the honoree's name on the cake looked a little squished - as if it was done as an afterthought - something I hadn't noticed on a Costco cake before. Maybe it was a one time glitch.

                  We're also long-time Porto's customers, and while this is not meant as a total knock, I started to think that they did better with their smaller, more exotic cakes vs. their more generic sheet cakes. If convenience is an issue, I don't think you can go wrong with Porto's, which probably offers more options than Costco.

                  FWIW - don't know about Pavilion's, but we've had great luck with the bakeries at their Von's siblings, which we think is the best among the local chains. Their cakes (and bagels) are great, even if not quite the value of Costco.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Briggs

                    Sometimes we forget to order the cake, thats when the squished look comes into play.
                    Costco makes get cakes. Just order it the day before and your ready to go.

                  2. Hansen's is pretty good, and not too expensive.

                    Hansen's Cakes
                    1072 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019

                    1. Not impressed with Costco cakes. Would take a Tres Leches cake from Vons any day. Amazed friends who couldn't believe I would resort to a Von's cake.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Fru

                        I know a lot of people who love the Ralph's b'day cakes. The decorations are nice and the taste is okay (not great), but satisfying.

                      2. Ralph's makes great cakes, reasonable, and decorated

                        1 Reply
                        1. Saveur magazine put Costco sheetcakes on their "Top 100" best things a year or two ago.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: OC Mutt

                            The LA Times didn't seem to like it.

                            My brother-in-law on the other hand buys one every couple weeks and eats it himself.

                          2. Costco cakes that require refrigeration are head and shoulders above Pavilions. We were served a chocolate frosted Pavilions layer cake at a retirement party and it was cloying sticky & sickening sweet. But it's cheap enough to throw out, so you don't feel that bad. If you're on the Westside try Angel Maid on Centinela in Culver City. They tend to have a lighter hand with the sugar and any of their chiffon cakes with whipped cream frosting are scrumptious. And they're easy on the pocket book.

                            Centinela Cafe
                            4800 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: zinFAN

                              Big second on Angel Maid!!! I can't stand a really sugary cake, and Angel Maid is light and not too sweet.

                            2. I don't understand the love for Costco cakes. Yuck...especially the carrot cake! I'd go for Pavillions.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: junglekitte

                                great. it's unanimous. half for pavilions and half for costco. now what?

                                i'm in pasadena and need to pick up the cake before the 10AM party so there's no highway driving to Hansen's or Portos, hence, the costco and pavilions pick...

                                it's also a kids party so i want a basic cake.

                                1. re: trolley

                                  Tres Leches from Vons:) I did this for a My Gym party a few years back.

                                  1. re: Fru

                                    second the tres leches. or the Colossal Chocolate layer cake. both great.

                                  2. re: trolley

                                    Go with what's closer/cheaper then. :)

                                    1. re: trolley

                                      You're making yourself nuts. Unless the kids are over 13 and have the last name Virbila or Gold, they won't be able to tell the difference between Costco, Sweet Lady Jane, or the pastry chef at Providence, and unless it's truly terrible, they won't care.

                                      If Costco times won't work out, just go to Von's/Pavilion's or any decent supermarket WITH on on-site bakery and stop stressing. Since you have some time, why not try samples? An added plus with supermarket cakes vs Costco is the availability of edible photograph icings - which young kids will be more impressed with than anything else.

                                      Unless of course all you're really worried about is what the parents think...

                                      1. re: Briggs

                                        briggs, i think it's me, i'm the problem. most people love supermarket cakes. i don't even shop at pavilions so the thought of buying a cake from there and then eating it is a tough one. my child who is only 2 in a few weeks will only eat homemade cake from scratch. and it has to have cream cheese frosting. i think i'm also worried that i'm getting a cake that he'll most likely spit out. true, the kids won't care. i have to chill out and pretty much get over it!

                                        1. re: trolley

                                          If your child insists on a cake with cream cheese frosting, Costco sells a red velvet cake that might fit your bill. I haven't tried it, but I've heard it's not bad and I have no doubt it would be much better than anything you can get at Pavilions.

                                  3. I think you may need to go with Vons because Costco does not open until 1000. I would put in a vote for the Costco cake just on taste.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: PD Girl

                                      If the time works out, just do Costco. They put out a VERY good cake and you will not come close as far as your bang for the buck.. Costco's half-sheet cake costs about what Vons/Pavs quarter-sheet cake costs.

                                      1. re: PD Girl

                                        my costco opens at 9:30 on saturdays!

                                        1. re: trolley

                                          Be sure to clarify the opening time. My Costco opens early for business accounts but for regular members it's 11 a.m. You could probably arrange for a pick-up but definitely make sure you set that up ahead of time and get the name of the person who okays it.

                                          1. re: greygarious

                                            OP said they would pick up the cake the night before if they had room in the fridge, but mentioned Saturdays they open at 9:30am.

                                            I suspect they would go to the Costco in Alhambra which opens to all members at 10:00am. The only one I know of that opens to non-business members at 11:00 is Burbank.

                                      2. I've never had either the Costco or Vons sheetcake, but generally I find that with cakes it matters more what the cake looks like than what it tastes like.

                                        So, if I were you, I'd base at least part of your consideration on presentation and looks, and not worry too much on taste.

                                        1. One more idea-not knowing what area you are in I would suggest Gelson's for the Victor Benes Bakery in house.

                                          1. Victor Benes from Gelsons is over rated. I really love the sheet cakes from Ralph's. We got a sheet cake for our son's birthday party and one guest who is a party planner could not believe it was from the market.

                                            1. I bought a sheet cake from Pavilions earlier in the year for my sons birthday. It was to take to his daycare and I didn't want anything expensive (normally, in the Mar Vista area, I would chose Angel Maid for sheet cakes). It was a really good piece of cake IMO. It was super EASY to order and pick up. The cake was 1/4 sheet for like $20. I remember the last 1/4 sheet I ordered before this one was a Paradise Cake from Kings Hawaiian for around $50 (The Pavillions cake is not as good as a Paradise Cake, but it was still quite tasty).

                                              I've never been a fan of Costco cakes

                                              Kings Hawaiian
                                              2808 Sepulveda Blvd, Torrance, CA

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: annapurna7

                                                you can also get a sheet cake from whole foods for about $15. i know they have local bakers make the cake but not sure how good it'll be. every time i get cake from WF it's old. but i suppose if we got it made to order then it'll be ok. i'm still going with costco for now. i have to feed 40 people and 16 of them are mostly toddlers and a few kids . i think i need more than a 1/4 sheet and also trying to stay within a budget.

                                                1. re: trolley

                                                  The nice thing about the Pavilions cake is that it was personalized and had a theme (Cars theme for my son). I'm not sure if that is something you need. Costco will write whatever you need on your cake for free I think. We get them for work all the time.

                                                  I've never tried ordering a sheet cake from Whole Foods because I've found their cakes taste too old as well and are just not very delicious. Bristol Farms is good for cakes as well, but more expensive.

                                                  I'm sure your guests will enjoy the Costco cake. :)

                                                  1. re: annapurna7

                                                    I would imagine just about any place can personalize a cake these days. Costco has an array of themes to choose from (music, various sports, roses, whatever). Places like Ralph's and Super A will even do photo cakes - a bit too creepy for me...
                                                    The only drag about Costco is not being able to customize the Inside of the cake - it's either all white or all black. At least at Los Feliz it is.

                                                    1. re: Briggs

                                                      Well, you can personalize a bit more at Pavilions than you can at Costco was what I was getting at, you can get they cake practically however you want it. I was a bit vague in my previous response. You can customize the cake to suit your palate @ Pavilions as well.

                                                      1. re: Briggs

                                                        well it's a done deal. went to the alhambra costco and ordered the darn thing with dinosaur on it. i have to agree that as far as decorations costco is limited but you stated, i'm not inviting jonathan gold to the party and i'll be eating the cupcake in solidarity with my husband.

                                                        the other thing that surprised me is that it's either vanilla filling with vanilla cake or chocolate with chocolate filling and that's it, no alternatives. i was pretty depressed at the inability to choose the filling or get cream cheese icing as i planned. so i talked to the bakery manager and after a long conversation she decided we were worthy enough for cream cheese icing on our vanilla cake. woo hoo.

                                                          1. re: trolley

                                                            "it's either vanilla filling with vanilla cake or chocolate with chocolate filling and that's it, no alternatives."

                                                            I warned you... At least they worked with you (even a little).

                                                            Even though I'm a Costco fan (the true happiest place on earth for a consumer), this rigid policy is still kind of a drag. Not all that long ago you COULD customize the ingredients - filling, cake, icing, to your heart's content.

                                                            Still, while it may not be the best cake you've ever had, I'm pretty sure you'll be relatively happy with the results. Relatively.

                                                  2. I've been to parties where they served Costco cakes. I'm not a big cake fan but was surprised that I found their cake quite edible.

                                                    1. I recently got a sheet cake from Ralph's for my girlfriends birthday party. Cake is available is white, chocolate, marble or carrot and there are tons of options as far as frosting, filling and decorating.

                                                      Cake was pretty good. A 1/4 sheet was $18.

                                                      1. I'm not sure if you are near the Pavilions on Sunset and Virgil in Los Angeles. They have the best cake EVER!!! I tend to like JJ or PHoenix cakes that are lighter than traditional American cakes. But the Paviliions cakes are really really good, very moist, and light in texture, and not too sweet. They charge the same as any other Pavilion.
                                                        PS. That's the only Pavilions I would buy cakes at, I've tried other Pavilions and they don't even come near.

                                                        1. I am in the same situation, albeit two years later. Which did you choose?

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: hfiltzer

                                                            i got the costco cake vanilla with cream cheese frosting. i'm reading this thread and i feel like a giant fool for being so snotty about it. the costco cake is great. in fact, we had a lot of leftovers and i ended up freezing slices and i'm the only one in the family that kept eating it. 5 lbs later...however, i had to make a special request the cream cheese filling on the vanilla cake. they wouldn't do it at first.

                                                            1. re: trolley

                                                              Thank you so much - was completely agonizing over the decision, which in retrospect will probably be ridiculous. I'll go costco. Thank you again!!

                                                              1. re: hfiltzer

                                                                I ordered a Costco once and that was enough for me. They're inexpensive and perhaps that's why the draw....who knows. I find them mediocre, at best.
                                                                Another person mentioned Pavilion's on Sunset and Virgil...they're good.
                                                                Another good choice is Ralph's strawberry shortcake....made with real whipped cream. I've used this for various birthdays where I work...people love it. It has to be ordered 48 hours in advance, however.

                                                          2. Costco is fine for cheap sheet cake. At least it tastes and is priced like what it is. We go to a lot of kid's birthday parties and trust me there is far, far worse.

                                                            Two options that are great at kid's birthday parties are the mini cupcakes from Buttercake on Pico and the ice cream sheet cake from Milk.