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.
Recommended for Dessert because: This no frills place has some of the best pies in town combined with an uber low-key atmosphere.
Katie's expert tip: Try the chocolate cookie dough pie. Yes, you heard that right!
Artisanal donut loves flock to Nomad Donuts for their ever-changing and tasty menu. Executive Pastry Chef Kristianna Zabala uses locally-sourced ingredients from Farmer's Markets and specialty retailers to make small batches of beautiful donuts in flavors like Banana Chip Cake Nutella and Smoked Coffee Maple Bacon. Nomad Donuts' commitment to the community doesn't stop there as they're often collaborating with breweries, restaurants and other organizations around town. They also have a very long list of vegan donut options and can be seen all over Instagram. Go early to avoid disappointment because one a flavor is sold out for the day, you're out of luck.
Recommended for Dessert because: We had to have a donut place on this list and Nomad Donuts is a local favorite at the moment.
Katie's expert tip: The Ube Taro Coconut is one of the most popular flavors.
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.
Recommended for Dessert because: This new restaurant is taking the Gaslamp by storm with its superbly French experience.
Katie's expert tip: Le Parfait Paris offers macarons in a variety of flavors with a rotating selection of seasonally-inspired favorites.
The Baked Bear offers gourmet, custom ice cream sandwiches in multiple locations across San Diego County. When the first location opened, there were lines out of the door and the concept has been a major hit ever since. The way it works is that you choose your delicious, decadent cookies (a flavor on top and a flavor on the bottom is even an option) and choose your ice cream. They sandwich it together and then roll it in toppings. You can choose to have the entire sandwich warmed up (yes, it works). And, instead of cookies, you can opt for brownies or donuts to complete your ice cream sandwich. So good.
Recommended for Dessert because: The Baked Bear revolutionized the ice cream sandwich for San Diego.
Katie's expert tip: Try the donut ice cream sandwich rolled in sprinkles.
If you haven't tried Taiwanese shaved snow, put Iceskimo on your list. They have six core snows (original, strawberry, green tea, lychee, black sesame and salted caramel) in addition to special, seasonal flavors. After choosing a flavor and watching the machine shave it into melt-in-your-mouth, thinner-than-paper slices, customers can head to the DIY toppings bar with items ranging from fresh fruit to mochi to boba. Condensed milk is another favorite topping. The contemporary space has seats for 15 and price is determined by weight. It actually started as a pop-up shop and was so successful that it warranted its own space.
Recommended for Dessert because: Iceskimo serves the best Taiwanese shaved snow in San Diego.
Katie's expert tip: Try the salted caramel and coconut snow with bananas, mochi and condensed milk.
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.
Recommended for Dessert because: Though it looks like an ice cream shop, Chocolat brings authentic Italy to San Diego via desserts, snacks and Italian crepes.
Katie's expert tip: You're going to order the gelato here, right? It's worth ever calorie.
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.
Recommended for Dessert because: It's great value for money and the cakes are some of the best in town.
Katie's expert tip: Order a slice of banana cake! You can also pre-order cakes to take home.
The Cravory is a San Diego-based cookie-only bakery known for unique and delicious flavor creations. Their first flagship cookie shop is open in Point Loma but they also sell cookies at various San Diego Farmers' Markets and via an online retail shop where cookies can be ordered by the dozen or in monthly subscriptions shipped freshly baked directly to your door. The Cravory has 11 signature cookie flavors including Red Velvet and Ultimate Chocolate Chip, as well as six new seasonal cookies created each month. Gluten-free options include chocolate chip and birthday cake. Both certainly taste like the real deal.
Recommended for Dessert because: The Cravory is the place to go for cookie lovers!
Katie's expert tip: The Cravory offers birthday cake and chocolate chip gluten-free cookies and they are outstanding.
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.
Recommended for Dessert because: Sweet or savory, dine in or take out, Extraordinary Desserts has decadent gluten-free options.
Katie's expert tip: Try the gluten-free creme brulee or the yogi chocolate cake that's both vegan and gluten-free.
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.
Recommended for Dessert because: Michele Coulon is the premier dessertier of La Jolla for everything from wedding cakes to takeaway treats.
Katie's expert tip: My personal favorites are the banana cake and German chocolate cake.