Trying to find the best desserts and coffee in San Diego? 10Best has you covered. Where you go depends on what you're looking for. The places mentioned on this list are dine-in, for those perhaps seeking a late afternoon snack or after dinner treat.
Perhaps the county's most famous dessert shop is Karen Krasne's Extraordinary Desserts in Little Italy, one of the firsts to emphasize sweets. This location houses 7000 square feet of contemporary space in which to enjoy a glass of champagne or cup of coffee with a spectacular seasonal dessert. Now there's a Balboa Park location.
If you crave a moist, dense cake--say carrot or banana with buttercream frosting--visit Come On In! Cafe in La Jolla (there are other locations throughout San Diego). Big slices of cake are offered dine-in or to-go. Call in advance to see if your favorite flavor is being cut that day. Or, lob in an order for a whole cake to-go, starting at an incredibly-reasonable $30.
Feeling like pie? Betty's Pie Whole, a hidden gem in Encinitas, offers individual sweet and savory pies that can be eaten in a saloon-like cafe. We're talking chicken pot pie and even chocolate cookie dough pie up for grabs.
You can't go wrong with any choices on this list. All are good options!
Bread & Cie Bakery & Café
This is definitely the place for lovers of baked goods. Start the day at Bread and Cie with a bowl of homemade granola, or a blackberry-banana muffin and a cup of gourmet coffee. At lunch, the humble sandwich goes upscale, with combinations like roast beef, horseradish cream, watercress and orange-marinated red cabbage on sourdough, and pesto, gouda, tomato and arugula on levain. Regulars return for sweet treats, too, like brownies, lemon-ginger or pecan-apricot scones, and chocolate chip or oatmeal walnut cookies. Stop in for dessert and a coffee. If you're looking for challah bread, make your visit on a Friday. (619-683-9322)
Le Parfait Paris
Le Parfait Paris is San Diego's newest patisserie and boulangerie. Located in the downtown Gaslamp District, Le Parfait Paris is distinctly chic with its large, open windows and street-side patio. Intentionally minimalistic in design, a bevy of colorful macarons and desserts are housed like fine jewelry in transparent refrigerated cases for roving eyes to adore. French pastry chef Jean-Francois Fays creates authentic baguettes, breads, pastries, and gluten-free items, but Le Parfait Paris is quickly becoming known for his exquisite macarons. A French treat dating back to the days of the Renaissance, the macaron (pronounced "macaroon") of the 20th century, originally called "le Paris Macron," is a sweet almond meringue-based confection filled with an organic flavored custard. ((619) 245-4457)
Chef Karen Krasne earned a Certificat de Patisserie from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and it has put her in good stead with area gourmets who flock here for a slice of coconut cream torte, a wedge of tangy-sweet tart, a scoop of intensely-flavored ice cream, or a handful of unbelievably awesome chocolate-tea cookies. Offerings vary from day to day, but frequently incorporate fresh fruits and flower garnishes, making them as gorgeous to look at as they are wonderful to eat. Gluten-free menu items include English muffins, baguettes, flourless banana cream cake, creme brulee, dark chocolate cookies and more delights. (619-294-2132)
The restaurant draws inspiration from the cafes of Europe and takes its name from the tartine, an open-face sandwich originating in France. You can lunch on one at this Coronado café, or opt for a Panini, salad or quiche instead. But the baked goods and beautifully plated desserts are what keep folks coming back. It's a great morning stop for coffee and scones, or for dessert later in the day. Standouts include the pavlova (meringue, whipped cream and mounds of fresh berries), and the Diplomatico (rum and espresso soaked pound cake with chocolate mousse). It's also kid-friendly with guests also raving about the coffee drinks. (619-435-4323)
Grab a taste of Italy in the Gaslamp at Chocolat Cremerie. Famous for gelato, exquisite chocolate and tasty crepes, this bistro is a local favorite. It's even open late-night for those who need to satisfy a sweet tooth. Try cream-stuffed croissants and eggs for breakfast. Order salads, bruschette, cured meats and paninis for lunch. Gelato flavors include multiple chocolates, mango, basil lemon, honey and poppy seed cream and more. Know that the ingredients are top-of-the-line and recipes formulated after years of research. The reviews don't lie with even people who have spent loads of time in Italy singing this bistro's praises. And, there's a full bar. ((619) 238-9400)
Influx has made a name for itself with its minimalist, white-and-red decor, excellent coffee, and house-made pastries. Folks stop in for delicious cups of coffee (Cafe Moto), cheese danishes, scones and muffins in the morning. At lunch, they line up for fresh contemporary sandwiches and salads. Other props go out to the bagels and lemon bars. In the afternoons, another crowd turns up for espresso and fabulous cupcakes. At any time of day, you'll find people studying, working or surfing the Internet. It's comfortable, welcoming and relaxed. There are several locations now including North Park, Golden Hill and Little Italy. (619-255-9470)
Betty's Pie Whole
This saloon-style coffee and dessert spot is inside the Sunshine Gardens nursery. Despite an odd location--it's kind of a hidden gem--the pies are worth seeking out. But, they're only whole pies, no slices, prepared with real fruit, local eggs, pure butter, real cream and premium chocolate. The individual pies are of a hearty size and come in savory and sweet flavors. Popular choices include apple crumbly pie, Mississippi mud pie, chicken pot pie and more. Betty is a Southern gal and as such she serves Southern sweet peach tea as well as root beer and drip coffee. The cafe is pet-friendly. ((760) 230-6781)
Come on In! Café & Bakery
A reputation for great breakfasts, with healthy alternatives to the usual fare, plus excellent coffee and fabulous sweets have made this casual café a hit. Whenever a new one opens, it quickly becomes a local favorite. Early in the day, opt for cornmeal pancakes, homemade low-fat granola, or an omelette. Lunchtime salads, sandwiches and soups always include several vegetarian options. And every day the pastry case is replenished with an array of sweet goodies, like almond apricot pound cake, peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies, and lemon tarts. (858-551-1063)
Michele Coulon Dessertier
Michele Coulon takes no shortcuts. She uses nothing but top quality ingredients: local produce (organic whenever possible), the richest chocolate, the finest liqueurs, and real butter and cream. In truth, everything she makes is fantastic, but some popular examples are the Lemon Bavarian (light cake with Bavarian cream and lemon curd), banana cake and the Gianduia (dense bittersweet and milk chocolate torte with roasted hazelnuts). A brief but elegant lunch menu includes spinach salad with prosciutto and goat cheese, French onion soup, and a free-range pork salami sandwich on a baguette. You may also order custom cakes to-go and eat your treats with coffee or tea on the patio. (858-456-5098)
About Katie Dillon
Katie Dillon originally moved to the seaside community of La Jolla to attend UC San Diego. When the opportunity presented itself, she and her husband set off for a 7 year stint overseas as expats in London and Hong Kong. After traveling the world, they returned to the La Jolla sunshine, with a young daughter in tow.
Katie now writes a lifestyle site called La Jolla Mom and is the author of a book called, “Flying With Kids.” Her work can be seen on NBC San Diego, Red Tricycle, Yahoo! Shine and Have Family Will Travel, a Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts blog.
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