Step Out in Mid-City for a Sweets Crawl on West 3rd Street

Salted Caramel at Carmela Ice Cream on W 3rd Street | Photo: Steven H, Yelp


Spanning nearly four miles, Mid-City sits between Downtown LA and the Pacific Ocean and is among the most densely populated areas in Los Angeles. Representing a microcosm of diverse neighborhoods and historical architecture, it’s also home to world-class museums, eclectic cuisine, theater and music venues, trendy shopping, and luxury hotels.

Towards the western edge of Mid-City is the Beverly Grove neighborhood which features The Grove, an open-air shopping, dining, entertainment, and lifestyle complex that also includes The Original Farmers Market, which opened in 1934.

Just west of The Grove is a destination all its own—West 3rd Street (running from La Cienega to Fairfax). Lined with over 100 independent shops and restaurants, the street offers an international presence that includes Italy, Scandinavia, France, Australia, Mexico, Asia, and the Middle East. Within the last few years, the street has experienced an upsurge of distinct eateries and dessert shops featuring handcrafted pies, baked goods, ice cream, gelato, and international candy.

Check out these ten spots for one of the sweetest crawls in LA.

Salted Caramel at Carmela Ice Cream on W 3rd Street

Salted Caramel at Carmela Ice Cream on W 3rd Street | Photo: Steven H, Yelp

Carmela Ice Cream

Jessica Mortarotti and Zachary Cox started making the rounds with their handmade, organic ice cream at farmers’ markets in 2007 and opened their first Carmela Ice Cream brick and mortar in Pasadena in 2011, followed by Mid-City (7920 W 3rd St, Los Angeles 90048) a couple of years later. With flavors inspired by fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices, their icy confection has been touted on countless “best” lists, including Bon Appetit. Seasonal flavors include Lavender Honey, Toasted Almond, Carrot Orange Ginger Sorbet, Lemon Verbena Vanilla Bean, Aztec Chocolate, Rosemary with Toasted Pine Nuts, Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean, and countless more. Note: They also cater via a restored vintage ice cream truck and a push cart with umbrella.

Sockerbit Sweet & Swedish on West 3rd Street

Sockerbit Sweet & Swedish on West 3rd Street | Photo: Sockerbit, Facebook

Sockerbit Sweet & Swedish

Welcome to a taste of Scandinavia at Sockerbit, a modern shop lined with sleek, white bins filled with traditional candy —sweet, sour, gummies, licorice (don’t miss the salted variety), chocolates, marshmallow, and more—totaling over 150 varieties. Imported from Swedish, Danish, Finnish and Norwegian suppliers, this is not your ordinary by-the-pound bulk candy. Unlike American-made manufactured candy, Scandinavian candy is free of artificial colors, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and GMOs, and doesn’t have an overly sweet or artificial taste. Husband and wife owners Stefan Ernberg and Florencia Baras started their business online and opened their first location in New York in 2011, followed by LA in 2014 (7922 W 3rd St, Los Angeles 90048), and the OC in 2017. The all-white shop is named and designed after their signature candy which resembles a white marshmallow. They also carry candy in gift containers, as well as a whimsical collection of Scandinavian home goods, including tote bags, party items, and kids toys.

Wine and truffle pairing at The Blending Lab

Wine and truffle pairing at The Blending Lab | Photo: @theblendinglab, Instagram

Wine Blending Class at The Blending Lab

Wine Blending Class at The Blending Lab | Photo: @theblendinglab, Instagram

The Blending Lab

While wine isn’t classified as a “sweet,” it's befitting as a dessert, of sorts. The Blending Lab is a tasting room only (7948 W 3rd St, Los Angeles 90048). Co-owners Michael Keller, Chris Payne, and Magdalena Wojcik produce their wine at a local winery from grapes sourced on the Central Coast. Drop by for a flight or glass. Bottles are also available for purchase. Most unique is the wine blending class ($55 per person). Taking a science meets art approach with beakers and all, you’ll learn about varietals, and how to taste and differentiate. You’ll learn to make your own special blend, and for an additional cost, take home a personalized blended bottle. Check out the event schedule for collaborations with other shops and vendors. Open Wednesday to Friday, 5 p.m.-9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m.- 9 p.m.

Coconut lemongrass sorbet and sea salt chocolate in a vegan waffle bowl at Gelateria Uli

Coconut lemongrass sorbet and sea salt chocolate in a vegan waffle bowl at Gelateria Uli | Photo: @rivetingfoods, Instagram

Gelateria Uli

After a career in finance, Uli Nasibova opened her eponymous gelateria in DTLA’s historic Spring Arcade Building in 2014, where she continues to create her locally-sourced, handmade gelato and sorbet. The second location on West 3rd opened a few years later (8044 W 3rd St, Los Angeles 90048). Awarded spots on many “Best of LA” lists, the shop was also named among the top seven new ice cream shops in America by Food & Wine. Sixteen flavors are served daily, including alternating seasonal varieties (she created a latke and applesauce flavor last winter). Signature flavors include Speculoos Cookies, California Pistachio, Sea Salt Caramel, Stracciatella, Jamaica Agua Fresca (Hibiscus) with Mint Sorbet (vegan). Also on the menu are espresso drinks, lavender latte, affogato, cold brew floats, and gelato-shakes. Cakes can be specially ordered. Waffles cones are made fresh. And if you happen to come by with your pup, there is a choice of ‘pupsicle’ and ‘doggie gelato,’ both made with Greek yogurt.

Full size and mini fōnuts

Full size and mini fōnuts | Photo: @fonuts, Instagram

fōnuts

Nancy Truman created what she calls her “enlightened” donut at fōnuts after she discovered that she had a gluten intolerance. At this quaint shop which she runs with her husband, Thom Furtado, you’ll find donuts without the guilt - hence the "faux" (8104 W 3rd St, Los Angeles 90048). Baked, rather than fried, the donut has been reimagined with organic ingredients and almond flour (gluten-free), and a vegan selection. Most have little to no sugar. Choose from over a dozen flavors including “fotella,” churro, chocolate sprinkle, and blueberry earl grey— available in regular and mini sizes.

Cinnamon Roll and Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillets at Toast

Cinnamon Roll and Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillets at Toast | Photo: @la_foodguide, Instagram

Toast Bakery Cafe

If you’ve driven down this street on a weekend, you’ve inevitably seen a crowd gathered on a corner—or it may seem familiar because of television notoriety on Entourage or Rachel Zoe.  Primarily a café serving breakfast and lunch, Toast (8221 W 3rd St, Los Angeles 90048) is also known for its sweet shop featuring cakes, cupcakes, dessert jars filled with mousse and pudding cakes, muffins, sweetbreads, muffins, and croissants. Come for a meal or a treat. Among the specials meant to consume on the premises is the "old-fashioned warm skillet" with choice of cinnamon roll, apple pie, or a chocolate chip cookie— a la mode, of course.

Chocolate chip cookies at Joan's on Third

Chocolate chip cookies at Joan's on Third | Photo: Joan's on Third, Facebook

Joan’s on Third

When Joan McNamara opened her gourmet marketplace in 1995, she paved the road for this once quiet street to become the destination it is today. Filled with displays of specialty gift items, freshly prepared foods, cheese, charcuterie, wine, and olives, Joan’s on Third (8350 W 3rd St, Los Angeles 90048) is perfect for a quick bite, a meet-up, take-out, and catering. On the sweets side, there are artisan treats, as well as baked goods made fresh daily, including an array of cookies, muffins, scones, bars, cupcakes, brownies, croissants, and pain au chocolat. Valley dwellers can find Joan’s on Ventura Place in Studio City.

Winston Pies CEO, Brianna Abrams

Winston Pies CEO, Brianna Abrams | Photo: @winstonpies, Instagram

Winston Pies

South Carolina native Brianna Abrams named her pie shop for the town where she grew up. A former attorney, she turned her passion into a small business in 2017 with her first Winston Pies location in Brentwood. Just under a year later, she opened her second location on West 3rd (8366 W. 3rd St, Los Angeles 90048). Her fruit pie crusts are flaky, buttery, and never seem to get soggy. Ingredients are sourced locally and feature organic produce whenever possible. The regular rotation features five flavors (apple, blueberry, cherry, key lime, and chocolate with a most delectable oatmeal crust) with vegan and gluten-free options. There’s always a seasonal rotation as well. Order a big pie to-go, or take a seat in the cozy bright space and share a mini or a slice a la mode with coffee or tea. Other options include 4” square hand pies and 2.5” PieBites® which are available individually or by the dozen.

Pies at Simplethings Restaurant on West 3rd Street

Pies at Simplethings Restaurant on West 3rd Street | Photo: @simplethingsrestaurant, Instagram

Simplethings Restaurant

At Simplethings (8310 W 3rd St, Los Angeles 90048), you can eat dessert first with the $2.75 “cutie pie.” Choose from nine flavors including s’mores pie, key lime, and coconut cream, plus a rotating daily "chef’s special," such as strawberry shortcake or gluten-free mud pie. Pair dessert with a salad, sandwich, or breakfast offerings and then wash it wall down with a coffee drink, or a mimosa on weekends. Find other locations in Toluca Lake and Westwood.

The famous banana bread pudding at Magnolia Bakery on W 3rd Street

The famous banana bread pudding at Magnolia Bakery | Photo: @hangryphone, Instagram

Magnolia Bakery

Since rising to fame on “Sex and the City” and “Saturday Night Live” two decades ago, the New York-based Magnolia Bakery can be credited with starting the international cupcake craze. Los Angeles finally got a taste in 2010 when Magnolia Bakery opened this single shop (8389 W 3rd St, Los Angeles 90048)—styled as an ode to an old-fashioned bakery with white and black checker floor, bakers in white, pastel walls, and pedestals of frosted baked goods, and cases filled with pies, muffins, cookies, and more. But the dessert that beats them all is the banana bread pudding. Don’t miss it and take a few to go.


Words by
Karen Young Avatar of author Karen Young