La Brea Bakery Cafe is the home of one of L.A.'s best bakeries. The La Brea Bakery was founded by Chef Nancy Silverton in 1989; she's since sold out and gone on to win huge accolades with her work at Osteria Mozza. But her legacy of baking top-notch artisanal breads lives on. The latest from the La Brea Bakery Cafe are the single-origin heirloom wheat breads made from whole grains grown in Montana; those textured, dense loaves are a chewy delight. While there, indulge in a tasty homemade tart or pastry and a cup of delicious gourmet coffee. Of course, a slice of the bakery's chocolate almond cake, chocolate whiskey cake, or old-fashioned apple pie is equally acceptable, but don't miss the banana bread pudding if it is on offer the day you go, for it is a dense, crunchy, slightly sweet mouthful of wonderful.
Everyone is happy about Sinners & Saints, where decadent desserts (the "sinners," made with gluten, butter and all those yummy things) are found as well as the ones they call the "saints." Those gluten-free goodies are kept well away from their neighbors to avoid cross contamination, but be warned that there's wheat flour in the air in this cozy bakery. Sinner & Saints offer a huge range of gluten-free goods, from cookies and cupcakes to scones, special cakes and macarons. They also offer a small selection of vegan, paleo and dairy-free sweets, so if you're an Angeleno with a dietary restriction, this is the place to satisfy that sugar craving.
Recommended for Bakeries because: Regardless of whether the bakers here use wheat or go with gluten-free other other special-diet options, the result is delicious.
Jenny's expert tip: This is the Westside bakery spot where everyone can find a sweet treat. But true celiacs beware, as wheat products are definitely in the mix here.
There's one bakery in Los Angeles that not only makes completely yummy cakes, sweet breads and cookies, but also gives back in a big way to the community. Homeboy Industries Bakery is part of the larger Homeboy organization that is dedicated to helping former gang members and recently incarcerated men and women to find a new focus, offering training and then jobs in the culinary industry. The bakery turns out a wide assortment of tasty treats, including favorites ranging from their signature (and incredibly luscious) Kugelhopf bundt cake to chewy chocolate-chip cookies, rugelach and even an assortment of vegan items, like tollhouse bars and walnut brownies. This IS L.A., after all.
Recommended for Bakeries because: A wonderful charity initiative that happens to cook up seriously delicious baked goods. What's not to like?
Jenny's expert tip: Order online and Homeboy Industries Bakery will ship their baked goods right to your front door.
French for "Daily Bread," this café and bakery features warm, inviting European ambience and is a favorite haunt of models and celebrities. Even so, this Belgian bakery and cafe is not out to set trends or attract a fashionable crowd; rather, its main goal is to provide scrumptious, hot-from-the-oven fresh breads and baked goods. Or forget the bread and simply give yourself over to the cafe's delicious cakes and pastries, pairing them with the organic beverages on offer, including real Belgian hot chocolate, mint lemonade and a fabulous selection of teas and coffee. Choose to sit at the communal table or take an individual perch. You can also have a healthy lunch at this popular place, with choices like open-face sandwiches built with items like smoked salmon, duck pâté and other quintessentially French offerings.
Recommended for Bakeries because: This Belgian bakery must be doing something right, with over 200 locations across the globe.
Jenny's expert tip: This outpost of the popular bakery cafe is a celebrity hot spot in the heart of Beverly Hills, so be sure to check out the person sitting next to you, nibbling on that butter-filled pastry.
Claudine Artisan Kitchen and Bakeshop wants you to return to your childhood â" if you dare. Start with the basics, the Claudine Monogram Sugar Cookie, a classic that melts in your mouth and reminds you (if you are lucky) of the ones Mom used to make. Then dive into the Browned Butter Rice Crispy Treat, a ramped-up, luscious version of those squares you probably made yourself from the recipe on the box. S'mores Bites should take you back to the campfire, except with much better chocolate and a sublime cookie base. Then its on to the ultimate childhood treat, Claudine's Nutella Poptart. This flaky, crumbly version of the cardboard one that came out of a box is similar in name only, for the Claudine version will make you drool as you gobble it up. They also make a Raspberry Poptart, as well as an assortment of other utterly delicious baked goods (try the Browned Butter Pecan Blondie, for example).
Recommended for Bakeries because: Inspired takes on comfort desserts from the '60s and '70s make Claudine a must-visit bakery in Los Angeles.
Jenny's expert tip: Go for breakfast, lunch or early dinner and try the savory foods Claudine's chefs are also creating in their Encino kitchen.
Angel Maid Bakery is such a legendary place on the Westside of Los Angeles that they don't even bother to have a website. You want to get a taste of their astonishingly light and fluffy Tres Leches Cake? Then you'll have to come on over to Centinela Avenue at Culver Blvd for a visit. Look closely for the place, it's tucked back from the curb and parking can be a trial to find, but that doesn't stop crowds from forming every day to gobble up the bakery's famous Nutella muffin, fruit tarts and French macarons. Other legendary treats from Angel Maid include the guava chiffon cake, chocolate dobash cake and strawberry shortcake. They are happy to make special cakes for birthdays and other occasions, but you're going to have to visit to place your order
Recommended for Bakeries because: Angel Maid Bakery is a Westside institution that keeps on rolling the dough as other flash-in-the-pan places flame out.
Jenny's expert tip: Get there right at 8 a.m. when they open to fill your pink box with your favorites; later on, you may not find that chocolate eclair in the bakery case.
Everything Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe serves is made on site, using top-quality ingredients, including organic flour, Vahlrona chocolate and farmers' market produce. As the menu explains, their offerings are "almost exclusively" organic and GMO free, sourced from local growers every day. There are plenty of sweet delights here, changing seasonally. Expect Blueberry Cornmeal Cake, eclairs, assorted cookies, doughnuts, fruit tarts and more, paired with specialty coffees from Caffe Luxxe Coffee Roasters or loose-leaf teas from the Art of Tea. Before indulging, have a full meal for lunch or an early dinner (they close by 5 p.m.) and top it off with one of the delectable desserts that have put this place on the map since 2009.
Recommended for Bakeries because: Zoe Nathan and her husband Josh Loeb are both top chefs in L.A., with a growing group of restaurants; Huckleberry is one of their best.
Jenny's expert tip: Grab a Caramel Latte made with house-made caramel and a bag of assorted cookies and hit the beach in time for a decadently wonderful sunset experience.
Rosa Porto emigrated to Los Angeles from Cuba in 1960 and brought with her the recipes that have sustained her famous bakery ever since. She's now retired, but her kids and her extended family still bake up her world-class delicacies at three locations (Burbank, Glendale and Downey) and fans still line up to get a taste. Be sure to try the Cheese Rolls (a cream-cheese filled flaky pastry) for only 75 cents each, along with the classic Refugiados (a guava and cream-cheese strudel), which will cost you 80 cents. Porto's Tres Leches Cake is a yellow sponge cake soaked in a three-milk sauce and topped with meringue icing, a steal for $15.50. Don't miss the savory delights found here, too, from the infamous Potato Ball (a mashed-potato ball filled with seasoned ground beef and fried up) for $1 to the empanadas and chorizo pies that melt in your mouth.
Recommended for Bakeries because: A staple of the San Fernando Valley since 1960, Porto's remains one of the most popular places for sweet (and savory) treats in Los Angeles.
Jenny's expert tip: Try the pumpkin latte with your dessert from October to December and you'll never go to Starbucks again.
It was over 25 years ago that Jane Lockhart brought her passion for cakes to Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood; nowadays Sweet Lady Jane has three more locations, in Santa Monica, Encino and Newport Beach. Her custom cakes are constantly sought after by everyone from Jennifer Lopez to Stevie Wonder; and the ones for sale every day match the quality of those special creations. The triple berry cake is legendary, or try the lemon tart, chocolate fudge blackout cake or one of the many delectable cheesecakes, cookies, brownies or pastries. Visitors can settle in for dessert and coffee or tea, or have a full lunch and stay for the cake afterward.
Recommended for Bakeries because: One of L.A.'s top bakeries for decades, Sweet Lady Jane has celebrities and everyone else clamoring for cake.
Jenny's expert tip: Be sure to order your custom cake (they'll make just about any design you'd like) or wedding cake with plenty of time for planning and execution.
At Pitchoun! French Bakery Cafe, Frederic and Fabienne Soulies prepare everything from scratch using their family's traditional recipes. The couple migrated from France in order to bring those unique French boulangerie tastes to Southern California and now have two locations. So you'll find crusty baguettes, of course, along with brioches and other baked goods. Their croissants are dreamy � perfectly flaky and buttery. Try the charcoal croissant for a unique taste sensation. The desserts will make you swoon, all made with eggs from free-range and pasture-raised chickens, and the highest quality pressed extra virgin olive oil or canola oils (no hydrogenated oils). Think Macarons, Tart Tatin, Creme Brulee and more. All are so good you'll be hard pressed to choose just one. Pitchoun! also offers cold and hot sandwiches, salads and soups in the cafe, so have a full meal here, topped off with a lovely dessert and a cappuccino.
Recommended for Bakeries because: Transported straight from France, this is as authentic a patisserie as you can find in Southern California.
Jenny's expert tip: Get to Pitchoun! Beverly at 10 a.m. when they open for the ultimate selection; or else book them to cater your party and you'll get the best of everything they do.