What would Willy Wonka do in San Diego? “There is no earthly way of knowing.” The world lost Gene Wilder recently, so, that is our question for the week and our tribute to his work. We think that W.W. would love to explore our sweet top ten list of our favorite San Diego treats. (We linked the company websites into the pictures, just click on them if you want to know more). Who will be the top ten desserts in San Diego? “The suspense is terrible… I hope it’ll last.”
Honorable Mention – Creamistry. These guys might have ranked higher, except they are a national chain and not a San Diego original. Even though they are new to San Diego, they have many locations in California, Arizona, and one even in India. It is located in Clairemont which isn’t a typical tourist destination, unless you are seeking out comic book stores or authentic Asian food. Still these guys have the most intense Nutella ice cream we have ever had, and they are also just nerdy cool. First you pick your base which runs the gamut between rich and creamy to vegan, non-dairy with several stops in between. Then you add your flavor and any toppings or upgrades. The creamist takes your creation and mixes it with straight liquid nitrogen. After the smoke clears, you have a smooth, rich and flavorful creation. A cool concept and good eats.
Cardamom Bakery and Cafe checks in at number ten. All of their bread, pastries, and sauces are hand crafted and baked fresh in daily. They are very proud of their croissants, but we particularly liked the chocolate hazelnut brioche french toast. How can you go wrong with fluffy french toast covered with homemade Belgian chocolate and homemade hazelnut / Belgian chocolate topping? It’s located in hip North Park at the gateway to Balboa Park so you can sugar up before your midtown adventures.
A Pacific Beach newcomer busts in at number nine. Buddy’s Diner took over two years to fight through red tape before they opened, but the results were worth it. They capture the best of the 50’s in food and decor, especially their amazing milkshakes. These shakes feature generous portions of freshly spun ice cream, but it’s the extras that sets them apart. They find creative ways to pile on additional and creative toppings to create unique and tasty milkshake creations.
What makes the Incredible Cheesecake Company incredible enough for number eight? Uncompromising old world baking methods combined with the finest all natural ingredients is what. They bake their cheesecakes in small batches with hours of curing time to cool. The results are a visually stunning and exceptionally tasting cheesecake that can not be replicated with mass production methods. I parked in front of the store to go to the Adams Ave Street Fair, caught sight of the storefront, and was unable to resist going in to try it. I was not disappointed!
Going downtown for lucky number seven. The Gaslamp Quarter strives to be the West Coast’s premier entertainment district. It has some heavy hitting desert destinations but we opt for the more subtle Chocolat Cremerie. Their Nutella banana crepes are a perfect ending to whatever highfalutin gala brought us downtown in the first place.
Pure Cupcakes won the Food Networks 2013 Cupcake Wars and claimed number six on our list. These guys are dangerous. They make our favorite, the Irishman premium cupcake made with Bailey’s liquor. Booze and dessert combined together are right up our alley. They are also next door to our neighborhood grocery store so we have to fight temptation every time we seek sustenance. Pro tip: Pure delivers their goods so you can mail order their deliciousness.
Heading down the homestretch we get to Hammond’s Ice Cream at number five. They offer super-premium ice cream made with 18% butterfat. Naughty – yes, but it gives a rich creamy texture you can taste. They add in deep, intense chocolate or pure delicious vanilla, but they aren’t done there. They put together some creative flavor symphonies that will make your taste buds stand up and shout for more. Originally from North Park, they have expanded to Pacific Beach and Point Loma.
Fourth on the list is arguably one of the best donut shops in America – Donut Bar (so says USA Today and Thrillist). Their donuts are big bold and creative. Maple syrup with real bacon – check. Donut and beer pairings- check. Easter donuts with Cadbury cream eggs inside (Jenn’s favorite) – check. Pro-tip order ahead online so they don’t sell out of the donut of your dreams. They do sell out of every donut, every day and close the store when they are out. Second pro-tip – they have store fronts in both the San Diego and Las Vegas airport if you were not able pick some up during your trip.
Our bronze medal goes to our favorite cookie joint – The Cravory. We discovered these guys at the local farmer’s markets then realized their brick and mortar storefront is next to the other grocery store that we frequent in Point Loma. What a total Willy Wonka move to picket all our grocery stores with decadent sweet shops. You know it’s bad when the cookie girls knows you at sight. At least she knows we will sample all the new cookies and then order two, and only two cookies because they are just too dangerous to keep on hand. Pro tips: They will ship cookies to you, sign you up for a cookie of the month club and they even teamed up with Hammond’s Ice Cream to have their cookies used for ice cream sandwiches in the Hammond’s Point Loma store.
Baked Bear is our penultimate favorite for good reason. They are located just up from Crystal Pier on Pacific Beach and in Petco Park which makes them close to many of the San Diego fun destinations. Jenn is crazy for their snickerdoodle sandwiches and I go for the brownie and white chocolate chip macadamia nut combo. Solid, yummy sweets in scenic eats. Pro tip: Baked Bear is aggressively franchising, check their website for a location near you….just remember, they are a PB original.
Bobboi Natural Gelato tops our list. Their Yelp review is astounding – five stars with 743 reviews. That is good enough to be rated the #8 best reviewed place to eat in America on Yelp. They are also Yahoo’s #2 ice cream shop in America. What are people raving about? The owners are from Sardinia Italy where they learned the authentic, old world way of making gelato. They add in organic, farm to market produce procured from a local farmer’s markets to create flavors that are life changing. Their passions run through everything they do including keeping their gelato in sealed containers to preserve the flavor instead of putting it out on display. (don’t worry you can and should sample anything that interests you.) If you are ever in La Jolla you have to stop by. They are right up from La Jolla Cove, probably closer than the parking space you found.
(photo credit: No original pictures in this post. Sorry. We tried to use photos from company websites when ever possible)