Orange County is a vast Southern California paradise filled with beaches, theme parks and most importantly: amazing food. Within this paradise, you can find a wide palette of diverse desserts that can suit anybody’s interest. Whether you’re craving cookies or ice cream, there is something to cater to anyone’s sweet tooth. Here is a short list of our favorite locations for the best dessert spots in Orange County.
1. Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee
Sidecar Doughnuts is an absolute dessert staple when visiting the Costa Mesa and Newport Beach area. The gourmet doughnut shop started serving fresh doughnuts in 2013 in Costa Mesa. Since then, they have expanded to different locations in Torrance, Los Angeles and Del Mar. Sidecar Doughnuts specializes in creating the prettiest, thick and densest cake doughnuts that are fried fresh every hour, using the finest and freshest ingredients to create inventive and unique flavors. Their most popular flavor is the Huckleberry doughnut, a cake doughnut that contains fresh berries inside the dough and the glaze. If you’re not a fan of fruit flavors, their Butter & Salt doughnut is another popular choice among loyal customers. This one is a rich cake doughnut with a brown butter vanilla glaze and complemented by a sprinkling of sea salt. If you are looking for the best doughnuts in Southern California, then Sidecar Doughnuts is a must-visit.
2. Paderia Bakehouse
If you’re someone who prefers chocolate chip cookies that are thick and chewy, then Paderia Bakehouse is the place for you. The cookies at Paderia Bakehouse closely resemble the iconic cookies from in New York City. The cookies are served warm and are slightly underbaked in order to ensure that the center beneath the crisp outer layer of the cookie has a soft and gooey texture that melts in your mouth. They offer multiple different cookie flavors but some standouts are definitely the chocolate walnut and triple chocolate flavors. Not in the mood for a cookie? You could never go wrong with one of Paderia’s other signature homemade desserts, such as malasadas, Portuguese egg tarts, cheesecakes and Filipino ensaymadas. Whatever choice you make at Paderia, you’re definitely in for an exceptionally delicious treat.
3. Vitaly Caffè
Located in the heart of The CAMP, a trendy and artsy outdoor shopping center in Costa Mesa, is Vitaly Caffè, a gourmet Italian cafe that serves homemade pastas, sandwiches and the best gelato in Orange County. Vitaly offers a variety of different ways to enjoy their gourmet gelato. If you’re having trouble deciding on picking just one of their many different flavors, you could opt for a gelato flight which consists of five adorable mini scoops of gelato served on a tray. If you’re feeling adventurous you could try one of their sundaes or a gelato burger, a warm, sweet bun filled with two scoops of gelato. There are a lot of options in terms of flavors at Vitaly, but Oreo and strawberry mascarpone are definitely some of the favorites among regular customers. A scoop of gelato is the perfect complement to an ambient stroll through the beautiful and aesthetically pleasing corridors of The CAMP.
4. Fill Bakeshop
Mochi doughnuts are definitely a hit or miss because of their unique texture, but Fill Bakeshop does everything right when it comes to them. The base of these flower-shaped beauties has the perfect, chewy mochi texture that has the right balance of soft and tender. Fill stands out from other mochi doughnut shops because of the unique and creative flavors that they offer. They also rotate their menu often, so there is always something new to try. Some of the notable flavors from their current rotation include the strawberry shortcake and Blood Orange Tiger flavors. They also have some classic flavors that will keep you coming back for more, such as cookies and cream and taro. If you’re looking to try mochi doughnuts for the first time or form a new opinion on them, you’re going to want to make sure that you go to Fill.
If you’re headed to the beach in South OC, MOULIN is a must-try. With an original location in Newport Beach, they have also expanded to Laguna Beach, Dana Point and San Clemente. MOULIN is a Parisian style café offering breakfast, lunch, but most importantly — French pastries. Every day, MOULIN serves a variety of classic French patisserie ranging from éclairs, tartes and mille-feuilles to larger desserts, like one of the most popular: the Tarte Tropézienne. This dessert, originating from the southern French city of Saint-Tropez, is made with layers of sweet brioche flavored with orange blossom water, filled with crème diplomate and topped with pearled sugar. They also have amazing croissants (of course) and serve a variety of fresh crêpes topped with your choice of Nutella, powdered sugar or fresh fruit. Overall, when in Orange County, MOULIN is the place for authentic French desserts that are just as delicious as they are beautiful.
6. French’s Pastry Bakery
With locations in Mission Viejo, Orange and Costa Mesa, wherever you may be in the OC, chances are there’s a French’s Pastry Bakery nearby. French’s is a classic bakery specializing in beautiful cakes, cupcakes and cookies, making it the perfect spot for special-occasion sweets. They are also renowned among the locals for their delicious danishes and pastries, for those of us who don’t need an excuse to have dessert for breakfast. But the real gem of French’s Bakery is what they call the “Wagon Wheel,” a mouthwatering, party-sized danish that comes in chocolate, raspberry and apple variations. Seriously. To. Die. For. So if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by French’s to satisfy your sweet tooth!
As you can see from our list, the dessert scene in Orange County is clearly unmatched. Make sure you stop by these amazing dessert spots to experience the best of what Orange County has to offer.
A version of this article appeared on p. 10 of the February 10, 2022 print edition of the Daily Nexus.