By Tanvi Chheda
Photography by Joe Schmelzer
From bohemian Silver Lake to beachfront Santa Monica, talented pastry chefs dishing out everything from blueberry-jam-smeared brioche toast and frangipane cake, to scrambled egg and chorizo sandwiches and burrata-arugula pizzas.
Here are some of the city’s best new bakeries.
1. The Sycamore Kitchen—West Hollywood
By night, Karen and Quinn Hatfield are the chef-owners of the restaurant Hatfield’s, but the couple saw untapped potential for breakfast and lunch options. And with Karen’s background as a pastry chef, it seemed a natural progression to open a bakery-café.
So last year they launched The Sycamore Kitchen, a vaulted space along La Brea Avenue, complete with a sun-speckled patio where you can linger over salted-caramel pecan babka rolls and blackberry almond tarts all day long. They make everything on-site, including cherry mostarda, dill pickles, and even house-made chorizo.
For coffee aficionados after the café’s Stumptown brew, and young families digging into ricotta and buckwheat blintzes with toddlers in tow, the casual spot is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
What to order: Blueberry oat bars; salted caramel babka rolls; the turkey sandwich. 143 S. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles; 323/939-0151.
2. Milo & Olive—Santa Monica
The story of this pint-size bakery along Wilshire Boulevard actually starts with its hugely popular sister spot, Huckleberry, just down the street. When husband-and-wife owners Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan needed a larger production space, Milo & Olive was born and naturally evolved into a bakery, lunchtime spot, and pizzeria.
The 30-seat space feels like a workshop with an open kitchen, where locals read the morning paper over their “croque Milo” and watch as chefs knead dough, slow-roast vegetables, and cure meats. It doesn’t hurt that the produce primarily comes from Santa Monica’s farmers’ market either.
What to order: Anson Mills grits and eggs with braised greens; a bagel with dill crème fraîche, cucumber, and tomato (which will make you wonder why you didn’t think of it); pistachio olive oil cake. 2723 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica; 310/453-6776.
3. Sqirl—Silver Lake
Two years ago, in a corner kitchen space in Silver Lake, Jessica Koslow started churning out jams—30 jars at a time, made in hand-spun copper pots. Her small-batch jams, in flavors such as blueberry tarragon and strawberry rose geranium, took off, but Koslow was still keen on doing something more.
She started offering breakfast and lunch, displayed daily on a chalkboard menu, out of her tiny production facility. Crowds poured into the makeshift spot and adjacent patio for single-origin coffee, brioche, and rice porridge. Koslow is the first to call her pop-up space a toast-and-coffee experiment, but given the response, she recently renovated the bakery-café into more of a polished operation in a modern space, complete with a wine shop next door.
What to order: Burnt brioche toast with seasonal marmalade and house-made ricotta; brown rice porridge. 720 N. Virgil Avenue #4, Silver Lake; 213/394-6526.
4. Proof Bakery—Atwater Village
Walk into this darling bakery, where almond croissants and lemon meringue perfume the air, and you’ll inevitably want one of everything—it’s just that kind of place. But don’t delay. Owner Na Young Ma runs out of nearly all her pastries, breads, galettes, cookies, sandwiches, and tartines during the course of the day.
This little bakery-that-could feels like a Parisian patisserie, but in the back there isn’t even air-conditioning (talk about dedication to her art). There’s a line every morning for her cinnamon buns, financier muffins, and those croissants. Wash it all down with Proof’s drip of choice, Handsome Coffee.
What to order: Croissants; the pickled beet and pesto sandwich; walnut espresso cake (pictured on page 68). 3156 Glendale Boulevard, Atwater Village, Los Angeles; 323/664-8633.
5. Short Cake—Third Street and Fairfax Avenue Farmers’ Market
It may be a stall at a farmers’ market, but Short Cake is far from just another kiosk to appease cranky kids with a chocolate chip cookie—though its crispy-chewy-buttery version is definitely killer.
“It’s all in the chocolate-to-cookie ratio,” says the pastry chef. “We use TCHO chocolate chips whole instead of breaking them up.” Snag a seat at the bar while you wait for your coffee and twice-baked hazelnut croissant at this cheery 1,000-square-foot open kitchen.
What to order: The Brunette (their rendition of a blondie with pine nuts and thyme); citrus chiffon cake with meringue (pictured at right). 6333 W. 3rd Street, Stall #316, Los Angeles; 323/761-7976.
Originally appeared in Virtuoso Life magazine, November 2013.