Downtown San Diego is heralded for its Spanish ancestry (oh, the wonderful architecture!), bustling nightlife, and its famous Gaslamp Quarter. Ironically, the historic Gaslamp Quarter doesn’t have any gas lamps. You can thank Nikola Tesla for that. But you know what it does have? Why, it has exactly what you’re looking for (being that you clicked on this post).
Know this, our sweet-toothed-chocolate-moose-sugar-loving people of Earth, the desserts in downtown San Diego are to die for. And being that you’re not currently interested in the landmarks and nightclubs that pulsate on the vibrant streets, we’ve curated a list of the finest dessert places that you must visit on your San Diego tour. For this, you cannot thank Nikola Tesla.
For Nikola Tesla ate only cheese and apples for dessert. And if anyone has ever been to Cold Stone, then you know our man Nikola was a lunatic. That, and he was in love with a pigeon. Anyways, onto the desserts!
#1 Chocolat Cremerie
While there’s a large array of incredible, drool-over, rearrange your chromosomes with each bite dessert options, we’re going to focus on their gelato. Because, dear Reader, their gelato is truly something remarkable.
They use six tons of cocoa in their decadent chocolate mixtures, sourced directly from Africa and South America. Additionally, they provide the unique tastes of gelato found in the regions of its homeland (how about a little “Round and Gentle”—with a heritage tracing back to the hazelnuts of Langhe, Italy). Or the incorporation of their “Green Gold” of Bronte, the exquisite and unique pistachio that tap dances in Sicily.
Above all, one thing is clear: the Chocolat Cremerie takes serious pride in their ingredients, composition, and food quality.
- Why Go Here? Calling all ice cream and gelato and unicorn fanatics! Do venture into this establishment. And do also know, you just might stay a while.
All ice cream and gelato consumed at Chocolat Cremeir comes with a brain freeze. Those who have watched the consumption say it’s due to “the shoving of it en masse down one’s throat.”
#2 Extraordinary Desserts
Operating for 15 years, Extraordinary Desserts delivers on its name. Not only are they celebrated by the various residents of the area, but they’ve also won national awards for the ingenuity of their recipes and desserts. Their Little Italy restaurant does Italians proud; like the culture threaded in their menu, they too are artists.
Do you like pastries? Tarts and pies? Whole cakes and rich brownies? How about tasty vegan desserts? Or dark chocolate candy bars? This is only scratching the surface of the magic that spills out of their kitchen. They’ve experienced so much success that in April of this year they opened a second location in San Diego County.
- Why Go Here? Well, for one you’ll be eating the highest quality desserts in downtown San Diego. And two, the cookies. The cookies are from heaven. Seriously, go right now and eat the cookies.
It’s been rumored that Karen Krasne—the founder—who has trained with the masters at LeNotre and Bellouet Conseil in France, has also been mentored by Willy Wonka. Desserts, for the rest of your life, might succumb to the ordinary. The golden ticket does have a price.
#3 The Sugar Factory
Have you ever wondered what a sugary, alcoholic drink designed by Pitbull and served in a goblet would taste like? Or how about a Drake-approved peach cocktail topped with Sour Patch peaches and cotton candy? Same here, Reader, same here.
There is nothing quite like the dining experience of The Sugar Factory. With amazing gourmet meals crafted by world-class chefs and enough candy on the walls to feed a herd of ravenous, sugar-fiending, unsupervised schoolchildren, you’re bound to hit sensory overload in this restaurant (in the best possible way, of course).
- Why Go Here? It’s probably the easiest place for celebrity spotting in San Diego County. Enjoy a delicious sugary treat next to the likes of: Katy Perry, the Kardashians, Pitbull, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Charlie Sheen, Britney Spears, and more.
With the sugar highs come the sugar lows, and after stuffing one’s mouth full of delicious sugary treats, one is bound to experience the lows. The consolation? It was totally worth it.
#4 Crunch Time Popcorn
Speaking of all things sweet, can we take a moment to remember those endearing memories from childhood? Sharing popcorn at the movie theater, eating a hotdog at a baseball game, or hearing the ice cream truck tune on a hot Summer day… If there’s anything more cathartic than taking a ride down memory lane, it’s biting into anything made by Crunch Time Popcorn.
Evoking joyful nostalgia is what it’s all about at Crunch Time. And what they do, they do well. For a limited menu, it leaves all its customers satisfied.
- Why Go Here? To relive the past. To awaken your inner child. Or just to satisfy an afternoon craving on a beautiful San Diego afternoon.
Joyful memories sparked may induce tears of joy. If you’re not in the mood to cry but still want their delicious popcorn, you can order them online and ship them for free.
Pappalecco is an antidote for anyone that doesn’t want to visit Italy. Why would anyone not want to visit Italy? The only logical response would be that they’ve been to Pappalecco and can’t see how anything could impress them more. Fully inspired by Tuscan culture and traditions, they’ve studied the generations of artisans to craft some of the most unique and desirable desserts San Diego and the world has to offer.
Go here and stuff your face with 4 scoops of gelato, gelato in a croissant, gelato mashed between two cookies, gelato on your pizza (if you’re about that life), and indulge in an establishment that puts the most important ingredient in everything they cook. And what is that you ask? It’s love. Don’t believe us? Go to their website and read about their core values (“We Love”).
- Why Go Here? To visit Italy without having to board a flight. For the ice cream sandwich that will sandwich your heart between ecstasy and fulfillment. Why go here? Out of respect for your taste buds.
Once you’ve left Pappalecco, you might rearrange your entire purpose in life and move to Tuscany.
#6 Le Parfait Paris
Is it any surprise that good desserts in downtown San Diego come from France and Italy? Le Parfait Paris, a bakery we hope you assumed was French, was awarded the “2019 Best Desserts” by San Diego Magazine. Having set up shop in 2014, the family-run establishment “invites people to taste the French Art de Vivre and celebrate its Gourmet Parisian heritage.”
Let us translate for you. They make the finest macarons that, once bitten into, turn your tongue into the gospel. Each one has its own scripture, enlightening you by the prophecy in its DNA. They say that once you’ve finished your fourth or seventeenth macaroon, you become the theory of relativity.
- Why Go Here? Well, maybe for the “Caramel Sea Salt Macaron?” Or maybe for the “California Raspberry Macaron?” Get a little British and go for the “Earl Grey & Jasmine Macaron?” Or tip your hat to your grandparents and bite into a “Key Lime Pie Macaron.” Go here to experience the tasty flavors of macarons that defy the laws of science.
Be sure to place some sort of “limit” on your credit card, being that, once you eat your first macaron, things tend to get a bit out of hand. Such is the way with dessert in downtown San Diego, or so it seems.
A Final Thought
We’ve compiled this list of the best desserts in downtown San Diego because we love you. And in loving you, we’ve kept the list to a maximum of four because we don’t want to reshape your idea of “what good dessert places in San Diego” are forever. Instead, we decided to present you the absolute best San Diego has to offer—places that are in themselves magical—in hopes that you tumble into one of these worlds and taste the very secrets hidden by the Free Masons.
Visiting the above-listed establishments is to experience nirvana.
“Look, there’s no metaphysics on earth like chocolates.”
Huffington Post. Nikola Tesla Fell In Love With A Pigeon—And Six More Freaky Facts About The Iconic Inventor. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/nicola-tesla-love-pigeon-facts-inventor_n_4320773?guccounter=1