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best bakeries?

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I'll be visiting Los Angeles in July, and I always like to visit bakeries when I travel. (I prefer more traditional bakeries to the trendy new cupcake specialists. Asian bakeries leave me cold, unless they're the kind that also have European-style pastries.) We'll be staying in Hollywood, but will also get to downtown L.A., to Santa Monica, maybe the zoo, maybe USC, not sure yet where else. Does anyone want to suggest great bakeries and recommend their favorite items for each one? (Or is there already a thread on this subject somewhere?) Thanks!!

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  1. Euro Pane
    Susina
    Porto's
    Jin Patisserie

    9 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      I second Portos and Euro Pane. Very different from each other, but both fabulous.

      1. re: happybaker

        PS - Europane - the croissant, the egg salad sandwich and, if they have it the lemon semolina cake. So good!

        Portos - for sandwiches the cuban (duh!) and the roast pork with garlic sauce. The feta with tomato is also lovely. Pastries? You'd better bring a bag. The guava cream cheese pastries put them on the map, but I've found their masareal (a guava bar cookie) to be my drug of choice. The pear danish is DIVINE, all their fruit turnovers are great and their "cheese rolls" can change my entire day. Simple but sublime.

        Good luck and happy eating!

        P.P.S. Have to say - had visitors from New York who said they wanted to buy dessert for the dinner I was cooking. I took the wife to Portos , and I made her more and more uncomfortable as I kept ordering stuff. Finally we had two boxes filled and fresh bread and the total? $20.

        She did a spit take, but I was not surprised. And later on, there wasn't much left as folks kept eating as the baked goods were so fresh and so good.

        1. re: happybaker

          Oh and get a chocolate croissant at Portos. Incredible quality for the price.

          1. re: happybaker

            YESSS! And don't forget the potato balls

            1. re: mucho gordo

              Hmmmm, everyone raves about the potato balls but I've always liked the chicken croquettes a lot more.

              1. re: matikin9

                That sounds good, too. I don't recall ever seeing that.

                1. re: mucho gordo

                  They keep it right next to the potato balls and is more oblong/football shaped. I like them because the potato in the croquettes is more creamy.

                  1. re: matikin9

                    I think I remember seeing something that fits your description but, didn't know it was chicken. I remember they had meat pies (chorizo) and that's it.

                    1. re: matikin9

                      I agree. I like the croquettes better as well.

      2. Concur all of ipsedixit's recs except Porto's. Europane is excellent - have yet to go to the newer location though. Lemon bar is very good, and everyone will tell you to get the open-faced egg salad sandwich - it's that good.

        Susina is top notch - cakes and cookies are excellent. If berries and creams on clouds of heaven sounds good, go for their berry blossom cake.

        Porto's is great on the Q/P but I've had much better comparable goods elsewhere -stick with the Cuban specialties - that's what they do best.

        Jin is very stylized Asian-influenced Euro-style desserts. They do afternoon tea there in a small open garden. Some knock their macarons but you should decide. They're not classic French - they're Christy's creations.

        3 Square Bakery is almost across the street from Jin. They have German/Austrian influences but pretzel dough intermingled with bacon and cheese is definitely a marriage with America - the bacon cheese twist. Try their chocolate cookie - it's one of the most chocolate-iest things you'll eat.

        Japanese renditions of French goods for me would be Amandine in West LA, Bonjour in Gardena, and Patisserie Chantilly in Lomita. Of the three, Patisserie Chantilly has the strongest attention to detail. Get their cream puffs (regular, black sesame and green tea - they may have chocolate too). I also like their Monte Blanc and Othello as well. If you like grapefruit, their grapefruit desserts can be really good as well.

        Amandine is more of a cafe and bakery. They do full breakfasts and lunches. The bakery portion has really good cakes and tarts in their refrigerated case (Gateau Fraise, Caramel Banane, and Tarte Citrone are really good but I've never been left flat with anything else in that case - have not tried the cheese cake in the loaf shape). Their croissants are excellent, as are just about anything else in the bread cases. Anything with bananas, strawberries, oranges, chocolate or caramel should be slam dunks.

        Bonjour is another Japanese-interpreted French style patisserie. They score high on anything having to do with cream/dairy. Magna cum laude Chowhound exilekiss did a cream puff showdown between Chantilly and Bonjour - it was kind of a tie - Chantilly scored high for their choux and black sesame, while Bonjour scored high on their chantilly cream. This says a lot as exilekiss has tastebuds gifted from the gods. Cream puffs, cheese cakes, fruit tarts, etc. are all excellent. Here's exilekiss's throwdown showdown:

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/694660

        The bonus for hitting either Chantilly or Bonjour is there are excellent food choices literally within a stone's throw of either. Chantilly has Gaja - an okonomiyaki joint - and Eboshi Noodle Bar - basically a ramen joint. Bonjour has Sanuki no Sato - think of a pretty competent all-encompassing Japanese restaurant that offers most Japanese foods at a level that most Japanese would be happy with. Also, Asa Ramen is located in the same shopping center and is one of the better ramen joints in LA.

        Huckleberry in Santa Monica is a relative new upstart but has the respect of a lot of hounds. They offer breakfast, lunch and supper, but I tend to stick with they baked goods here as well. Their fresh breads are amazing by LA standards. Also get their maple bacon biscuits - plural, yes. I just warm those puppies through and the flavor is just subtle enough but amazing. You should also try their passion fruit posset - fancy word for pudding. It is so well balanced in flavor and texture.

        Le Pain Du Jour is an excellent French bakery in Santa Monica. Since it appears that you're from NYC, there just be tons of options there that would easily rival this place, but if you are in the area EARLY, it's worth a try. They only make enough of their croissants, raised breads and brioche to last maybe until noon - after that, the selection falls off fast.

        -----
        Patisserie Chantilly
        2383 Lomita Blvd., #104, Lomita, CA 90717

        Le Pain Du Jour
        828 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

        3 Square Cafe
        1121 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

        Bonjour Cafe
        24633 Del, Prado Dana Point, CA

        Eboshi Noodle Bar
        2383 Lomita Blvd Ste 116, Lomita, CA 90717

        Asa Ramen
        18202 S Western Ave, Torrance, CA 90248

        1 Reply
        1. re: bulavinaka

          I agree re Porto's.

        2. In Santa Monica, I like Huckleberry and Le Pain du Jour. Le Pain du Jour is the more traditional and European of the two, but sometimes it doesn't really have its act together (e.g., no change). I'd go to Huckleberry--you'll see something that strikes your fancy.

          1. I second Europane, Chantilly Patisserie, and would add Proof Bakery in Atwater Village. They're small but good.

            1. Portos is excellent They have locations in Downey, Glendale and Burbank. For a Jewish bakery, Diamonds or Schwartz's Bakery on Fairfax just north of Beverly blvd.

              1. I am very fond of Jamaca's Cakes on Pico near barrington. Jamaca is creative and makes tasty treats. wouldn't call it traditional, but not hipster cupcakes either.

                1. Viktor Benes; on 3rd near La Cienega or in any Gelson's market. In the valley it's Bea's, in Reseda. Their chocolate chip danish is superb.

                  1. Proof Bakery on Glendale Blvd. in Atwater Village...not far from the zoo. Nice selection of baked goods and fantastic coffee courtesy of Cognoscenti.

                    http://www.proofbakeryla.com/

                    Also concur with the Europane recommendations.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: chinchi

                      I suggest the bakery in Canters Deli on Fairfax. Porto's will blow your mind if for nothing else as a people watching experience.

                      -----
                      Bea's Bakery
                      18450 Clark St, Tarzana, CA 91356

                    2. Just tried Hygge Bakery on Hope/11th in DTLA. Add them to this list. Very good to great pastries and they made me an excellent latte.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        Natas on Ventura in Studio City should have made this post.

                        1. re: Francesca

                          Totally agree - we make every effort to stop by Natas if we are heading into the SFV.

                        2. re: bulavinaka

                          The pastries at Hygge were lovely, my big surprise there? The pizza! The dough was just so darn TASTY. Even my husband who does not normally notice such things was taken aback.

                          Wait - I need to go back there!

                          1. re: happybaker

                            I think their only issue is related to service. I usually have no problem waiting, but many in the DTLA area do. They only had one person behind the counter at the time, and because I ordered a couple of hot drinks, it tied up that person, leaving two other customers who seemed somewhat impatient. A chef in the kitchen came out to help after a minute or two, but the wait seemed like hours to those waiting... Again, not an issue with me, but something that does impact those who are far less patient...

                        3. Short Cake at the Original Farmers Market at 3rd & Fairfax
                          http://www.shortcakela.com/

                          And Sweet Lady Jane
                          8360 Melrose Avenue, LA 90069
                          http://www.sweetladyjane.com/

                          1. I like La Monarca in Santa Monica. Their pastries aren't too sweet, but they are very satisfying.

                            http://www.lamonarcabakery.com/

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: liu

                              Where the heck have you been...? Glad to see you posting again! I'll have to try La Monarcha...

                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                "Where the heck have you been...?"
                                (You're so dear!)

                                Elite, La Monarca, Haru Sushi, Cafe Tomo, Mitsuwa, Torrance Farmer's Market...
                                You?
                                Seriously, I have posted recently: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/838325

                                I think you will like La Monarca. The owner is serious about cutting the sugar in his pastries. He took me on a "tour" of his cases and explained each creation. By the time we were done with our expedition, I SO wanted one of each!

                                Please report back~

                                1. re: liu

                                  Gelina Take Away (great banana cream pie), Nijiya, Huge Tree Pastry (couple dozen of this and that), Pann's (corn beef/cabbage), Metro Cafe (goulash), Hygge in DTLA (great pastries/coffee), Hodori in Koreatown (got shut out at Park's), and Trader Vic's! I see a lotta snears for that last one, but as unimpressed as I thought I would be, their wood-fired oven results in some good choices - some of the best cha shu I've tasted...

                                  Gelina Take Away is to be taken seriously for their scones - some of the best I've had. I guess that alone should make them worthy of being mentioned in this thread. But they had a beautiful banana cream pie on their counter the other day. nice ripe chunks of bananas smothered in a rich pastry cream, topped with velvety whipped cream. The pie crust was somewhat thinner than I expected, but it was firm and slightly crunchy.

                                  I've driven by La Monarcha usually while driving out of Santa Monica and always have one of those palm-to-the-head moments after I pass it and realize I should have stopped to try them. Next time for sure...

                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                    I agree re Gjelina Take Away. This is my pick for best baked goods in LA (though it is not a bakery), and I too think the scones are some of the best I've ever had.

                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                      "Next time for sure..."

                                      Well, I can't wait for your take, bulavinaka!

                                      It's probably not for everyone; some prefer a richer, denser pastry. For me, it offers something that is just sweet enough.