Since 1910, Mikawaya has satiated sweet teeth with myriad mouthwatering Japanese pastries, including mochi, a rich dollop of ice cream swaddled in a sweet-rice dough cocoon. Tickle your taste buds with seven mochi ice cream flavors ($6 for five mochi balls), including tangy mango and soothing green tea, a zenful dessert experience akin to splitting a hot-fudge sundae with an enlightened butterfly. Indulge cocoa cravings with chewy chocolate mochi mouthfuls, nibble on scrumptious strawberry spheres, or bestow boxes upon friends or passersby, a perfect treat to win over the meter maid whose only weakness is rice dough.
One hallmark of a good friendship is the ability to share secrets with one another. And as Catarah Hampshire and Shoneji Robison have proven, it's even better when those secrets include closely guarded family recipes. They've taken these recipes and extrapolated them into a collection of cakes and cupcakes inspired by the flavors they grew up with. Eschewing trendy ingredients such as truffle oil, coffee nibs, or shredded pashminas, they aim to evoke down-home Southern cooking in every dessert. Just the names of the resulting treats?such as chicken & waffle, sweet potato, and peach cobbler?have customers reaching for a glass of sweet tea.
The baking duo have earned themselves plenty of laurels with their homegrown flavors. Eater LA named their seasonal Egg Nog and Sin Pie as one of its "15 Holiday Desserts to Try Right Now" in 2013. In the same year, the pair won Season 8 of Food Network's Cupcake Wars. Their sweet creations have also graced the palates of celebrities, including Stevie Wonder, Denzel Washington, and Nick Cannon. Still, their greatest delight is when a customer tells them, "This is better than my mama's."
Though they’ve garnered the praise of national publications such as Bon Appètit and Nylon Magazine, the chefs at Pazzo Gelato are all about the local community. Each morning, they frolic through the city’s farmer’s markets to find seasonal inspiration, using organic ingredients whenever possible and steering clear of high-fructose corn syrup. Patrons can mix-and-match decadent combinations such as Madagascar vanilla and sea salt caramel or pistachio and red velvet. Vegan sorbettos include flavors such as toasted coconut and dark chocolate orange. All cool creations can be scooped into the shop’s biodegradable cups and waffle cones, or gently lobbed into a cup of espresso and whipped cream for the shop’s signature pazzogato. At the espresso bar, staffers pour aromatic cups of Intelligentsia coffee, loose-leaf tea, and drinking chocolate. The combination of cool and hot menu options makes the patio comfortable in summer, fall, and apocalyptic weather.
The last words you might think you'd hear from a baker are "easy sugar." At Sweet Dreamery Desserts, however, owner Andrea insists on putting the cake at center stage, not the frosting. Inspired by her mother, who baked authentic goodies for the family's Belizean restaurant, Andrea set out on her own baking journey at the tender age of 8, putting her two Easy-Bake ovens to work. Today, the ovens are bigger and the recipes are more refined, but there's a bit of that early passion in everything she does. Andrea and her staff bake cakes, cupcakes, and cake pops to order, creating them all from scratch in small batches to preserve the home-baked taste and the friendships struck between like-minded chocolate chips. They use no preservatives or artificial additives in the batter, just wholesome, natural ingredients such as real vanilla extract and salt-free butter.
The hardest workers at Bagel Broker aren't allowed a lunch break or time to sleep—they bake bagels continuously throughout the day. However, because they're ovens, they aren't aware of their own work ethic. They produce 18 varieties of bagels, from plain to pumpernickel to the popular cheese onion, whose doughy rings satisfy even "New York transplants," according to Epicurious. Guests can decorate their bagels with whipped cream cheese and several types of spreads, or opt for heartier sandwich options, such as breakfast combinations of eggs and meat or slices of nova lox. The Tarnol family—owners of the shop since its 1987 inception—steers clear of added fats, preservatives, and oils when creating the signature food. The shop also compiles catering platters for group functions such as corporate complaining parties.
Though you'll find an array of lunch selections on the menu at Coffee Land, the shop pays most of its focus on two meals: breakfast and dessert. The staff begins each morning by setting up displays full of sweet pastries and fresh fruit, and by blending caffeinated drinks such as iced coffee and cappuccinos, along with more exotic options such as thai tea and boba smoothies. As the day heats up, they begin crafting sweeter options. Scoops of ice cream perch atop waffle cones, and whipped cream and chocolate syrup drench slices of banana and rich ice cream. Guests can linger over their treats at one of the intimate tables in the cherry-colored cafe, using the free WiFi to get some work done or build a website for their turkey sandwich.