Balboa bars at Sugar & Spice and Dad's Donut Shop & Bakery. Photo by Amy Theilig
Balboa bars at Sugar & Spice and Dad's Donut Shop & Bakery. Photo by Amy Theilig

Gustavo Arellano's 34 Favorite Desserts

30. The place once known as Gustav's Jagerhaus switched owners last year and now goes by Anton Schwaiger's Jagerhaus, but the new guys knew better than to mess with Gusto's legendary pancakes, chock-a-block with fresh fruit. The German apple pancake is for those who like to start their day with a dash of tartness; the Austrian raisin is for the easygoing set. But the Stuggarter peach, golden fluffiness mixed with whole peach slices, drowned in butter and powdered sugar, is a natural amphetamine. 2525 E. Ball Rd., Anaheim, (714) 520-9500;

31. When Jim Gilchrist and his Minuteman friends protested outside her restaurant, El Chinaco's owner, Mirna Burciaga, called them vigilantes and sold Minuteman Tacos. Those tacos were good, but better are the Salvadoran native's fabulous pupusas. Even better is her plátano frito: logs of fried plantain paired with sweet refried beans and a chilled thimble of cream. Burciaga is running for a seat on the Costa Mesa City Council this year, and if she wants to win, she should offer to trade those plátanos for votes. Hell, even the California Fair Political Practices Commission wouldn't object. 560 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 722-8632.

32. The French occupation of Mexico during the 1860s was one of the most fruitful imperial follies in history, with Mexico inheriting waltzes, light-skinned beauties and pastries from their colonial masters. You can savor the results at Ruben's Panadería, where the pan dulce bests the goods of any boulangerie. The sugar cubes on the conchas (the genus of pan dulce studded with sugar clumps that well-meaning gabacha teachers hand out to kiddies during Diversity Day) crumble upon encountering the muggy warmth of your mouth. Cute, fat cookies called cochinitos (so called because they come in a piggie shape) snap with a sharp ginger flavor. Ruben's also constructs wedding cakes, French rolls for tortas and most entries in the pan dulce galaxy, but remember to stock up on the prickly pear empanadas. 438 S. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 992-0414.

33. Mil Jugos remains a downtown SanTana favorite for its fresh fruit drinks and small sandwiches called arepas. But visit the only Venezuelan restaurant in Southern California for their cachapas, a cross between a pancake and an omelet made with fresh sweet corn, stuffed with a version of Venezuelan sour cream and topped with crumblings of salty queso blanco. Doesn't sound like a dessert, but when you bite into the corn, feel its natural sweetness and wash it down with a mango smoothie, you'll just shut up and chomp all afternoon. 318 W. Fifth St., Santa Ana, (714) 836-4601.

34. Onion with taro leaves doesn't seem like much of a dessert, but let the Samoans over at Boutique Samoa surprise you with the palusamis, baked taro leaves stuffed with onions and coconut milk. The coconut milk congeals to create a sort of coconut yogurt, the onions absorb the sweetness, and the taro leaves impart a nuttiness and earthiness that's just splendid. 1217 S. Western Ave., Anaheim, (714) 220-9675.


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