The 75 best dishes and drinks in Los Angeles 2017: Desserts

From the city’s best soft serve to classic cookies, 2017 had the bites to sate that sweet tooth of yours.
Crème Brûlée Doughnut
Photograph: Rozette Rago
By Stephanie Breijo and Time Out contributors |
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Go ahead and put those New Year’s resolutions off for another day or two, because between all-butter pie crusts, some of the city’s best and most creative ice creams and doughnuts worth ditching diets for, you’ve got a sweet, sweet hit list ahead of you. Or throw caloric caution to the wind entirely and declare 2018 the Year of Ordering Dessert First. We wouldn’t blame you.

RECOMMENDED: The best dishes and drinks in L.A. of 2017

L.A’s best desserts of 2017

Restaurants

Milk & Honey Soft Serve at NoMad Truck

If an adult breakfast cereal was turned into a frosty dessert, it might taste something like this soft serve: A not-too-sweet creamy base drizzled with honey, shortbread and little log-shaped puffs of meringue. $6. —Michael Juliano

Photograph: Courtesy Winston Pies
Restaurants, Bakeries

Dixie Classic Cherry Pie at Winston Pies

icon-location-pin Brentwood

Brianna Abrams parlayed her farmers’ market operation, ButterCrust Pies, into a full-fledged brick-and-mortar in Brentwood this year and the Westside’s all the sweeter for it. This Southern-inspired pie shop serves ice cream and espresso, too, but the all-butter crusts and fresh fillings are of course the draw. My favorite? Abrams’ classic cherry pie, which is just as tart as it is sweet and made with whole, dark cherries. Top with vanilla ice cream, naturally. $42 per whole pie, $7 per slice. — Stephanie Breijo

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Pignoli at Eagle Rock Italian Bakery and Deli
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo
Restaurants, Delis

Pignoli at Eagle Rock Italian Bakery and Deli

icon-location-pin Eagle Rock

It's no surprise that this Eagle Rock staple isn’t just a hit with the locals—it also supplies a handful of restaurants and other Italian delis around town. You can order a sub from the back corner, that is, if you can make it past the pastry case at the front. Literal piles of Italian baked goods await, from the biscotti-like quaresimali to the cherry-topped almond cookies. Nothing holds my heart like pignoli, though, and this spot’s got some of the best. The poster children for the almond-flour classics, this bakery’s pignoli are perfectly chewy with a just-crisp base below and a generous drizzling of pine nuts up top. $15 per pound. — Stephanie Breijo

Ice Cream from Craft L.A.
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Ice Cream at Craft Los Angeles

icon-location-pin Century City

It’s Shannon Swindle’s sugar-coated world and we are all just dining in it. Craft’s longtime pastry chef is one of the finest bakers in Los Angeles, but his sweets prowess extends far beyond the baked good. The James Beard Award semifinalist makes fresh, seasonal ice cream and sorbet that rotates regularly, and it’s all worth ordering. Scooped alongside his tarts, cakes and pies or enjoyed all by their lonesome, flavors like buttermilk-kumquat, burnt cinnamon and bee pollen—a semirecent recent favorite—are a must for ending the meal. Or maybe for making a meal, in and of themselves. (Whatever, you’re an adult now and you can do what you want.) $4 per single scoop, $10 per three scoops. — Stephanie Breijo

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Crème Brûlée Doughnut
Photograph: Rozette Rago
Restaurants, Bakeries

Crème Brûlée Doughnut at Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken

icon-location-pin Downtown Financial District

Forget fresh out of the frier—you’ll want to procure one of these sugary rounded-corner rings straight out from underneath the blow torch. Astro’s custard-filled doughnut would be tasty on its own, but an outer glaze of crackly torched sugar makes this the one to try. $3.50. — Michael Juliano

Guava Cheesecake at Freedman's Deli
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo
Restaurants, Delis

Guava Cheesecake at Freedman’s

icon-location-pin Silver Lake

This modern Jewish deli does ample baking in-house—hello, bagels—but it only offers one dessert: guava cheesecake. Each enormous wedge is what deli-dessert dreams are made of, a light, whipped cheesecake interior that's studded with vanilla bean. Atop, you may just get distracted by the gorgeous sheen of the house-made guava jelly that sits, glass-like, across the whole thing and adds a tartness that livens up what could have easily been an afterthought or too-rich dessert, as cheesecake so often unfortunately often can be. It gets even better: The Freedman’s staff say they may even offer catering orders of whole cheesecakes in the future. If that’s not something to get excited about in 2018, we don’t know what is. $10. — Stephanie Breijo

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Photograph: Stephanie Breijo
Restaurants, Mexican

Horchata Bread Pudding at Salazar

icon-location-pin Frog Town

It’s hard to imagine getting dessert at Salazar because once you’ve ordered all of the tacos, the carne asada fries and the plate-sized steaks and specials, you’re full. But try you must, because, like just about everything here, the desserts are worth an order. The horchata bread pudding is doughy and soft and packed with cinnamon on the inside, but singed atop, creating this crunchy-soft bite of warm, comforting, sugared-out, horchata-soaked bliss. $9. — Stephanie Breijo

Don't skip the Helados Pops ice cream this weekend.
Photograph: Michael Juliano
Restaurants, Ice cream parlors

Coconut Sundae at Helados Pops

icon-location-pin San Fernando Valley

Before the hollowed-out-coconut trend sprouted up around the city and reached peak Smorgasburg, SFV’s Helados Pops was carving fresh coconuts and using them as vessels for their stellar organic ice cream and sorbet. Using little to no sugar, lesser-known fruits and organic dairy and coconut milk, this mom and pop operation makes some of the city’s most unique—and colorful—frozen creations. The flavors rotate often, but you can almost always find the lucuma—an Andean-fruit-based ice cream with natural nutty notes—as well as the raw cacao. Top with fresh fruit, toasted nuts or even shredded coconut that's been freshly carved from the day's bowls. Prices vary; around $4. — Stephanie Breijo

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Passion Fruit Pavlova at Eveleigh
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo
Restaurants, American

Passion Fruit Pavlova at Eveleigh

icon-location-pin West Hollywood

Eveleigh’s desserts rotate weekly, but its roster—be it a simple strawberries and cream over poundcake or a more complex coffee-and-cardamom crème brûlée—is almost always worth ordering, no matter how full you may be after that Aussie-meets-Cali meal. One particular dish stands out this year, a tart taste of warmer months: a tangy passion fruit pavlova, sitting in a pool of lemon meringue. Creamy and rich but acidic to the point of near puckering, this is a dessert I still think about every so often. Sadly it’s not on the current menu, but keep your eyes peeled for it in the future. Current desserts range $10-$12. — Stephanie Breijo

Photograph: Stephanie Breijo
Restaurants, French

Chocolate Soufflé at Le Petit Paris

icon-location-pin Downtown Historic Core

For those just a little too terrified to tackle soufflé in your own home, Le Petit Paris has you covered. Part classic French pastry, part chocolate lava cake—though there’s one of those on the menu, too—this soufflé offers all the decadance of a rich chocolate dessert with all the light, airy brilliance of a perfectly executed soufflé that never falls flat, even as you spoon your way to its core. $16. — Stephanie Breijo

Still have that sweet tooth?

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