Best Desserts in the Bay Area

Best Desserts in the Bay Area

After a year of too many chicken sandwiches, let loose and celebrate the joy of life with a beautiful dessert. The options are legion around the Bay but we found a few that were just a little more special. And yes, these desserts are worth the calories.

Featured Photo: Tribune

San Francisco

Photo: Courtesy of Nader Khouri


After an extended Covid closure, executive chef Rogelio Garcia and his team relaunched with an eight-course tasting menu that highlights his deep knowledge of contemporary American cuisine. At dessert, that means Tenbrink Farms Stoneftuit Pavlova. Like the ballerina it is named for, the meringue is light but intensely flavorful, crispy at first bite before giving way to a delicate softness. “The creme fraiche underneath gives it a deep rich note that accents the white peach,” chef says. “It’s a perfect dessert for me.”

Photo: Courtesy Merchant Roots

Merchant Roots

Calling this dessert a Magic Stone does not do justice to the trompe l’oeil finale of the Stone Soup menu currently running at this theme-and experience-driven boutique restaurant. Carrot cake is disguised as a “stone” that sits on a bed of chocolate and fleur de sel cookie crumble meant to resemble soil. The sweet potato mousse and meringue mushrooms round out the forest floor idyl. Make sure to get a bit of each component in every bite for the full-on Hobbit experience.

South Bay

Photo: Courtesy of Alexanders

Alexander’s Patisserie

Not content to style San Francisco’s fog into a dessert, the pastry team at Alexander’s sweet spin-off went further afield for inspiration. Their iridescent blue London Fog is as cheery as a an English teapot. Slice into it to reveal chocolate mousse infused with the bright flavor of Earl Grey tea. Blackberry puree at the center adds a nice berry sweetness while the little black dress of the cookie world, chocolate sable, gives the base a just-right crunch. Audrey Hepburn would approve.

Photo: Courtesy of Nobu

Nobu Palo Alto

On the menu since day one, the Cashew Praline Cake is a favorite of Chef Pujan Sarkar who loves it as an example of modern Indian cooking technique. “The rice pudding, or phirni, on which the cake sits is blitzed and passed through nitrous oxide, making it super light,” chef says. By preventing the starches from coating your palette, the flavor of the praline really shines through.

North Bay

Plate sits on an ornate table with the Lemon crepe cake and raspberries by Bungalow Kitchen in Tiburon, California
Photo by Ryan Forbes.

The Bungalow Kitchen by Michael Mina

Whispered about by the area’s most fervent dessert lovers, the Bungalow Kitchen’s lemon crepe cake is a fan favorite and staple on the restaurant’s menu year-round. Paper-thin buttermilk crepes are layered with white chocolate crème fraiche cremieux, making for a luscious bite perfectly topped with Chantilly cream, strands of orange zest and toasted pistachios. MINA Group’s top pastry chef Veronica Arroyo keeps the perennial favorite fresh with nods to the Bay’s seasonality — maybe this spring, you’ll get to try it decorated with farmer’s market raspberries and preserved Meyer lemon curd.

Photo: Courtesy of Buckeye Roadhouse

Buckeye Roadhouse

The most famous pie in Marin — Buckeye’s S’more Pie — earned its reputation with plenty of old-fashioned yum. Chef Robert Price layers a honey-infused graham cracker crust with semisweet chocolate and toasted almonds, then ops it with meringue and more chocolate. The chocolate oozes from its meringue nest, a dark eye in a storm of fluffy white. The top layer of meringue is teased and toasted to look like waves cresting or a porcupine’s needles.

Photo: Courtesy of Valenti & Co

Valenti & Co

Chocolate, the ultimate happiness creator, is the heart, soul and body of a satisfying dessert crafted to capture chocolate’s ephemeral qualities. Chef Duilio Valenti uses olive oil instead of butter that gives the cake’s layers a silky texture, smoothed further by chocolate mousse filling. Topped with chocolate sauce and chocolate shavings, its actually a tower of triple chocolate love, but who’s counting?

Friends hold four different ice cream scoops from Frankie and Jo's in Larkspur
Photo: Courtesy of Frankie & Jo's

Frankie & Jo's

A plant-based scoop shop launched in 2016 in Seattle has landed at Larkspur’s Marin Country Mart. Renowned for creamy, decadent vegan creations without the help of animal products, GMOs, soy or dairy, the brand creates up to 30 new ice creams and novelty products each year that are sustainably sourced. Be sure to try California Cabin, a flavor inspired by the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Facade of Sweetly Cali Desserts in San Rafael
Photo: Courtesy of Sweetly Cali

Sweetly Cali

Sugar-free house made nut butters (pistachio, hazelnut), panna cottas (12+ flavors, including ube, mango, coconut), Belgian Liege waffles, croissants and cookies as well as toasts (avocado, salmon, Caprese) are available alongside Broadcast Coffee drinks, chai and lemonade. Keto options are available.

East Bay

Photo: Courtesy of Tribune


Seeking a refined but not complicated dessert, Chef Omri Aflalo rethought an American classic, the s’more. His Caramelized White Chocolate Cheesecake S’more has a graham cracker crust and brûléed marshmallow, as one might expect. But the cream cheese cake is infused with white chocolate for a slightly firmer texture, a nice contrast to the fluff. White chocolate shavings on top may or may not remind you of your childhood but should inspire a sense of play.

Photo: Courtesy of U:Dessert Story

U:Dessert Story

The Asian-inspired desserts at Tammy Boonlieng’s Castro dessert café take cues from all over the world. The Hojicha Banoffee riffs on the English original with Japan flair. Made with organic hojicha custom grown for them at a farm in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan, the aroma alone can stop you in your tracks. Then consider that an Oreo-almond crust supports sliced banana cradled by a layer dulce de leche caramel. The whole thing is topped with homemade hojicha cream and topped with fresh whipped cream. Garnished with a sprig of rosemary and Heath bar crumble, the pie looks like it was whipped up by elves from an enchanted land.

More Local Favorites in the Bay Area

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