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Meet Dolly Llama, DTLA's new waffle emporium

Bubble waffle at the Dolly Llama
Photograph: Juliet Bennett Rylah

A bubble waffle, sometimes called an egg waffle, is almost like the inverse of the waffles most of us are familiar with. Instead of pockets, these waffles puff out, like a sheet of bubble wrap. They are soft and chewy, with a light sweetness when eaten plain. Of course at the Dolly Llama, you probably won’t be ordering them unadorned—the toppings are half the fun.

The colorful dessert emporium is now soft-open in Downtown L.A., currently serving a limited menu but with more on the way—including plans to open a K-town location in the next several weeks. They specializes in waffles, which they sell in three forms: your classic waffle, the waffle stick and, of course, the doughy bubble waffle. Sure, you can microwave a frozen waffle like Eleven from Stranger Things, or make one with the waffle press that’s been collecting dust in your cupboard, these waffles are next level.

Many of L.A.’s latest dessert shops, like DTLA’s Little Damage and Koreatown’s Milk Tavern, keep Instagram in mind, and the Dolly Llama is no exception. They carefully place toppings like they’re plating entrees at a fine dining restaurant. “We want [each waffle] to be like a piece of art,” co-owner Jane Shomuf says.

Eric Shomuf—who owns Dolly Llama with his wife, Jane—met their business partner, Samuel Baroux, as a boy. They’d long discussed starting a business together, and when they finally settled on opening a waffle shop, it was important to them to make the best waffles possible. So Baroux, a European restaurateur, sent two of his France-based employees to Belgium to become waffle masters. The pair then came to the U.S., where they are training Dolly Llama employees in the meticulous art of crafting the perfect waffle.

Photograph: Juliet Bennet Rylah

At Dolly Llama, a house-made batter is poured into a custom, high-end waffle iron, which Eric Shomuf calls the “Ferrari of waffle makers.” Each waffle is cooked for a precise amount of time, then carefully removed from the machine and gently cooled with a fan. “[Our staff] puts so much love into every waffle they make,” Jane Shomuf says, “as though they were making it for someone they love.”

When the waffle is ready, it is wrapped in a paper cone, then paired with a scoop of ice cream. Flavors include horchata, matcha, red velvet and the blue-hued cookie monster. Topping options include fresh fruit, coconut shavings, cookie crumbles, cereal and Kinder chocolate bars, as well as a variety of sauces, including berry, nutella, peanut butter, cookie butter and sweetened condensed milk. This will cost you $8, and it’s large enough to share with a friend or date. Waffle sticks, which look like wands of waffle covered in toppings, and their more traditional “OG Waffles” are both $6, with an extra $2 charge if you choose to add ice cream.

The shop, too, is colorful and visually pleasing, with neon signs and the brand’s cute llama mascot. Though the Dolly Llama is still in the soft-opening phase, the full menu includes coffee, shakes and three varieties of hot cocoa, including hot vanilla and a “hot-chata.”

The Dolly Llama is located at 611 S Spring St, open from noon to midnight, daily; their Koreatown location will open at 629 S Western Ave.