Austin's reputation as a true foodie destination doesn't just apply to the best tacos in town or the top BBQ restaurants—we're also a city with a serious sweet tooth. From the best ice cream in Austin to the best bakeries to restaurants with a phenomenal pastry chef, there are plenty of places where it just might be worth it to have dessert before dinner. Sink your fork into our picks for the best desserts in Austin.
Best desserts in Austin
Laundrette continues to garner awards—2016 Best Restaurants of the Year from Food and Wine, 2016 Best Restaurant finalist from the James Beard Foundation—but no award can beat the squeal of delight we hear when someone seeks their teeth into Laundrette’s birthday cake ice cream sandwich. The creation of renowned pastry chef, Laura Sawicki, it has become a signature item at the restaurant and consists of yellow cake, sprinkles and ice cream, taking you back to mom’s kitchen table and homemade cakes. Other delectable offerings include blackberry cremeux, strawberry icebox pie and bittersweet chocolate mousse.
Only open Thursday through Sunday, Churro Co. serves the traditional Mexican pastry tossed in cinnamon sugar and served with chocolate, caramel or Nutella dipping sauce is memorable. But we have to go with the Hippie Hollow version: churros with powdered sugar, topped with peach and blackberry compote, basil, whipped cream and granola, as our choice for one of Austin’s best and most memorable original desserts. Mexican street food served from a food truck never tasted so good.
The menu changes daily so you never know what they’re going to whip up for dessert at Dai Due, but you can be certain it will be unusual—a satsuma, lemon-verbena sorbet or a creamy cheesecake covered with nuts and fresh berries—and the perfect complement to their locally sourced menu offerings. If you are celebrating a very special occasion try the Saturday Supper Club menu, which is pricey at $125 for two but includes your choice of signature desserts: pecan tart, grapefruit and mint sorbet, black sapote and tangerine layer cake, apache blue cheese with pineapple guava paste, and sopapillas with honey and dulce de leche.
Ooh la la. If you’ve ever been to France and walked into a patisserie, you’ll want to recapture the memory and treat yourself to a visit to La Patisserie—as close to Paris as you can get in Austin. In fact, Soraiya Nagree, owner and baker, embraces the famous quote from Gertrude Stein, “America is my country and Paris is my hometown.” Be aware that items are first-come, first-served but you can order ahead. Offerings include a variety of croissants, pain au chocolate, eclairs, cakes and other specialty items but it is the melt-in your-mouth, lighter than air macarons that are the dessert of our dreams. You can purchase everything from a 12-pack of assorted macarons to a two-pack, but we're betting you’ll want the former to satisfy your guilty pleasure.
Chez Zee has been an Austin favorite since 1988, when owner Sharon Watkins set out to create a unique combo of European bistro and bakery with an Austin flair; it's been the site of many celebrations with dessert as the highlight. Our favorite is the lemon rosemary cake, a Chez Zee original creation. But it’s hard to pass up the melt in your mouth coco leches cake or Maida’s cake, a gluten-free, flourless chocolate delight filled with vanilla cream and mocha mousse. Chez Zee also creates weekly dessert specials.
Chef Amir Hajimaleki's journey took him through some of the best restaurants in Austin before opening his own shop with his brother, Ali, in 2013, and District has been an Austin favorite ever since. The dessert menu heading reads “Indulge"—an accurate description of Austin’s most creative offerings such as a negroni creamsicle, chocolate Nutella mousse, truffles and seasonal crumbles. The dessert that stands out is the PB+Chocolate—a chocolate sponge cake with coconut buttercream, peanut butter and chocolate crumble, and house peanut butter ice cream.
Jack Allen is a legend in the Austin culinary scene—the father of locally sourced cuisine and a philanthropist to boot, Allen is also the father of Bryce Gilmore, owner of Barley Swine. Desserts at Jack Allen’s Kitchen are made from scratch daily and include a variety of cakes, pies and cobblers, but for serious chocoholics there is only one choice—DeeDee’s Chocolate Bomb. You and your taste buds will thank us.
Who can resist a warm, gooey doughnut? Some of the concoctions at Gourdough’s may seem over the top and crazy, but, you know, YOLO. They serve everything in doughnut form, from sandwiches to burgers to a variety of entrees. The dessert doughnuts are presented as a whopping nineteen choices, but we have to give the Ring O’Fire—chipotle-infused brownie batter, chocolate icing, brownie bites, caramel sauce and cayenne candied pecans—top marks. Top it off with vanilla ice cream and this is about as close to heaven as it gets.
For some people, pie is the dessert that brings back the happiest memories, a feeling the mother-daughter team who created this locally-owned treasure set out to capture when they started the company in 2011. Baked from scratch every day with natural ingredients, the pies are individually sized, savory and sweet, and all baked within a signature crust made from European butter. They cater, they ship and you can also pre-order for parties and gatherings. They have a pie of the month and seasonal favorites, and while the blueberry lemon lavender pie is tempting, we have to go with our childhood favorite: the Sweet Texas Pecan.
They bill themselves as “Austin’s original desserts-only bakeshop” and we know people who literally drool at the thought of a cupcake from Sugar Mama’s. With more than 40 cupcakes to choose from (including gluten-free and vegan options), it’s a tough choice. Creative names like the Hemingway, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Frida and Churchill make it even more difficult, but we keep coming back to the James Brown: a Valrhona chocolate cupcake topped with chocolate buttercream and sprinkles. You’ll be singing “I feel good” in no time.
Since 1984, Amy has been scooping some of the best ice cream in Austin. An entire generation that grew up on the addictive taste of Amy’s premium offerings now take their children to discover the tasty treats; in addition to ice cream, Amy’s offers milkshakes, frozen yogurt and dairy-free ices. Amy’s keeps over 350 flavors in rotation but their signature ice cream, Mexican vanilla is our all-time favorite. Topped with Heath Bar crush’ns, it’s nearly irresistible.