When it comes to dessert in Los Angeles, all too often, it gets an undeservedly bad rep. But fear not, Angelenos. Here, we weigh in on some of the most indulgent-worthy, mouthwatering dessert bars your town offers, from those serving vegan, super food ice cream and flourless double-chocolate brownies to raw cacao mousse or a seasonal cheesecake-inspired pie made with cashew cream. With these top five sweet sojourns, there’s no need to be dessert-challenged anymore.
8233 Firestone Blvd,
Downey, CA 90241
It might take you all of two seconds to realize how strong Cuban roots are at Porto’s Bakery’s. Aside from their ever-popular customized cakes (they once made a Grey Goose-shaped cake) and potato balls, you’ll experience Cuban culture with every visit. From their salsa music to display of Cuban-o-delicious fancies, like Tres Leches, Merenguitos, Rumbabas, or a butter-tart dough filled with dulce de leche and topped with sugary powder, they don’t stop. Most recently, they celebrated California Strawberry Day by whipping up strawberry shortcake and chocolate-vanilla-dipped strawberries. Bonus: Porto’s bakes a flourless dense chocolate cake and sugar-free Swiss chocolate parfait. They also bake up cookies, brownies, mousse, puff pastries, cupcakes, strudels and éclairs daily for walk-ins. Try out their newest location in Downey.
33 E. Union Street
Pasadena, CA 91103
This sweet spot unites the best of both worlds: dessert and champagne. Pair a flute or two with the Petit Four plate of truffles, French macaroons and chocolate-dipped sea salted caramels, almond financier and pecan shortbread. Other fancies include Roasted Lavender Strawberries served with crème fraiche and the Chilled Strawberry and Rosehips Consommé — sweet soup served with mascarpone ice cream. Looking something for more experimental? Try Emily’s Dessert of the Day.
1700 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
You’ll want a second scoop (and won’t feel too bad about it) after trying KindKreme’s raw, vegan ice cream, made with “very basic ingredients,” according to owner Mollie Engelhart. After retiring from the music industry, the professional poet, turned vegan ice cream connoisseur, opened her first of three KindKreme locations a year and a half ago. Her newest outpost in Echo Park sits on a street-corner space shared with Sage Organic Vegan Bistro. From Coconut Carrot Ginger, Coconut Kale Lime, Honey Strawberry Blueberry Lemon to Cookies and Cream (made with vegan Babycakes cookies), KindKreme earns its delicious, healthy mark from such ingredients as raw honey, agave, homemade coconut, cashew and almond milk. Plus, nothing is heated above 105 degrees, so vitamins and minerals are kept in tact. In the mood for something extra nutritious? Opt for the Superfood flavor, which matches creamy chocolate with Acai, maca, E3 Live (blue green algae) and goji berries, and, according to Engelhart, offers as much superfoods you’d get in a healthy salad.
2495 E Washington Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91104
This farmer’s market favorite recently made the San Gabriel Valley home to their first brick-and-mortar. Owner Jessica Mortarotti calls her ice creams and sorbets “garden inspired”, because she limits her ingredients to raw, seasonal fruits and vegetables, plus spices and herbs—sans any coloring or flavoring. Packaged flavored powders aren’t an option for Mortarotti, who’s been known to infuse her iced treats with hand-plucked whole Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans. Some flavors she’s whipped up include Salted Caramel, Mint Cacao Nib and Spice Strawberry made with balsamic vinegar. Grab a pint at the Farmer’s Markets or her Pasadena shop.
639 N. Larchmont Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90004
More than just another healthy stop for detoxifying and raw cuisines, healthy decadence runs amok at Café Gratitude where you’ll forage for sweeter items like, “I Am Gorgeous” — a milk chocolate ganache rolled in a Brazil nut crumble. Or how about “I Am Adoring”, a mousse layered with fresh almond-espresso batter. For something for tangy, try the “I Am Awakening”, a creamy avocado-lime custard, set on a pecan-butter crust. Check out their newest L.A. zip code on Larchmont Blvd.
Sweets for the Soul
3169 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Neighboring a Vietnamese noodle bar in Atwater Village, Sweet for the Soul, gives you a locals-only vibe almost immediately—you can’t help but notice its two or three tables inside small quarters. This place really earns extra brownie points for their gluten-free handmade brownies made from Valrhona chocolate (It’s a French pastry chef thing). Other noshes include flourless chocolate pecan, blueberry buttermilk cupcakes and the vegan rice pudding, made with organic jasmine rice and cardamom. Pop a melt-in-your-mouth Brownie Shot (a hot combination of cayenne, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and, of course, chocolate-y texture).
1300 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Inspired by the Monarch butterfly, La Monarca owner Ricardo Cervantes brings back Mexican traditions in the form of pan dulces (sweet bread), guyaba-filled tacos and chocolate conchas (shells). Whether you’re vying for a Quinceañera torta, banderillas (bullfighter harpoons) or quequitos (cupcakes), La Monarca offers the best of Mexican pastries. We recommend pairing a homemade churro or dulce de leche empanadas with their Mexican hot chocolate. Visit their newest outpost in Santa Monica.
3156 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90039
With a menu that changes with the seasons, it’s hard not to walk out with a dozen varieties of their fresh-from-the-oven goodies. For a sweet breakfast item, grab a Valrhona chocolate croissant, vanilla bean shortbread or Florentine ganache cookie. Their newest outpost in Atwater Village also bakes up a chocolate-pomegranate-crème-fraiche tart, rosemary buttercookies, mini chocolate caramel tartlets, cinnamon almond cookies and lemon berry cream cake. Want a real sugar rush? Order a caramel apple with Mascarpone frosting.
10347 Magnolia Ave.
Riverside, CA 92505
Frostbites might have perfected balancing soft serve ice cream with custard, offered in 16 different flavors. Italian ice comes in flavors like peanut butter, blueberry and strawberry lemonade and is also scooped up and served separately. Crêpes abound with toppings from Nutella, to one of their soft serve creams. Another bonus, they’ll actually mix up new flavors like big stick popsicle and pina colada.