The best desserts San Diego has to offer pop up in strip malls, along avenues crammed with boutiques and on every other corner. Tijuana’s proximity makes for a delicious partnership with Mexican recipes, especially traditional ones adored by Americans. Classic ice cream, churros, tiramisu, rolled ice cream, crêpes and more await your San Diegan sweet tooth.
Every neighborhood has something to offer as an epilogue to your dinner or afternoon outing. Chic Italian restaurants and timeless diners draw swarms of local families and couples, while experimental bakeries and donut shops bring in college students and much of the workforce. So be sure to check out the best desserts San Diego is known for next time you’re in the area.
Pastry chef Karen Krasne created Extraordinary Desserts to bring showstopping cakes and desserts to San Diego. You might not be able to bring yourself to eat what you buy due to the unfailing intricate beauty. Be sure to snap a quick picture before consuming.
You’ll most likely find vibrant petals for fruit atop your dessert of choice. Once you’ve taken your first bite, you’ll know it’s called Extraordinary Desserts for a reason. Their cakes are the fastest way to fall in love with San Diego’s dessert scene.
Lazy afternoons spent on Coronado Island often involve a stop at Mootime Creamery, a 60s-esque ice cream parlor with neon blue lights and tiled floor. Orange Avenue overflows with both foot and automotive traffic. Boutiques and grassy patches line the street. The familiar but campy sight of a peeling plastic statue of Elvis beside a cow ushers customers inside for a plethora of cold treats.
They serve everything ice cream-related from traditional waffle cones to elaborate sundaes. Don’t skimp on the toppings. Pile on the sprinkles, crumbles of your favorite candy and more. This historic spot is the best dessert spot on the island off of San Diego’s coast. Come here for a cone after a beach day or during your shopping trip.
Betty’s Pie Whole Saloon
Seasonal pies are the name of the game at Betty’s Pie Whole Saloon, a beloved Encinitas bakery located in Elizabethan Desserts. They serve peach in summer and pecan in fall, but strawberry rhubarb graces the dessert cases year-round.
The lattice crust flakes beautifully and leaves greasy traces of butter on your fingertips. Strawberries and rhubarb make for a juicy sweet pairing inside the crust. If you need a little something extra you can add toppings like whipped cream or ice cream. Try butterscotch on the pecan pie in fall.
OK, so maybe Buona Forchetta is a restaurant primarily known for Neapolitan pizza and other savory Italian fare, but the tiramisu will triumph over your tastebuds. Owner Matteo Cattaneo’s mother, Augusta, makes the desserts herself now and then.
So anyone in love with the holy trinity of coffee, chocolate and cream should head over to South Park to try this classic Italian dessert. After all, nothing makes dessert taste better than a savory prologue in the form of pizza.
Churros el Tigre
Though you could venture into Tijuana for unparalleled hot churros, San Ysidro’s Churros el Tigre is the next-best option, and it saves quite a bit of time. Las Americas Premium Outlets houses this cute churro shop, and you can window shop while you chomp on the cinnamon-drench dough sticks. Try them with ice cream, caramel sauce, chocolate or lechera, which is sweetened condensed milk.
Hans and Harry’s Bakery
The two eponymous creators of this San Diego bakery brought Dutch cakes from their home country to California in the early 90s. Here you’ll find Holland’s classics, like cheese Danishes, and other sweet items like walnut tortes, powdered lemon bars and buttercream cake.
Strudel might be a holiday dessert, but customers indulge every season in this puff pastry stuffed with Bavarian cream and garnished with an assortment of berries. The family size is two feet in length, but they have individual servings available if you want one all to yourself. Sharing isn’t for everyone, especially when it comes to this strudel.
Once known as Wow Wow Waffle, this sugary breakfast spot hides behind a laundromat and serves thick but light waffles in the liège style. Atypical Waffle’s menu ranges from sweet to savory, but waffles are always the central ingredient.
You can also bring your furry friends to enjoy brunch – one of the best excuses to eat dessert for breakfast. Leslie Knope would have a field day here.
University of San Diego students are spoiled when it comes to neighborhood sugar. Rose Donuts offers a wide variety of classic doughnuts as well as ice cream, freshly baked bread and its both famous and infamous chocolate chip cookies (famous for the taste and infamous for how fast they sell).
Cinnamon sugar doughnuts and maple bars are two staples at the Linda Vista doughnut shop, but many customers don’t know about these bestsellers because of how early they’re swiped from the case.
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