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!!
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.
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:
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.
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
24633 Del, Prado Dana Point, CA
Eboshi Noodle Bar
2383 Lomita Blvd Ste 116, Lomita, CA 90717
18202 S Western Ave, Torrance, CA 90248
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.
I second Europane, Chantilly Patisserie, and would add Proof Bakery in Atwater Village. They're small but good.
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.