How sweet it is

Renee Padilla shows off Isabel’s signature chocolate cake.

Renee Padilla shows off Isabel’s signature chocolate cake.

Photo By David Robert

Isabel’s for the Love of Cake

1272 Disc Dr.
Sparks, NV 89436

(775) 626-3800

Walking into Isabel’s for the Love of Cake, I was bowled over by an overpowering odor: frosting. The place just reeks of sweetness. There are cakes and cake-related doodads everywhere. You can tell just by breathing that these people love them some cake.

I was there with my mom, an avid baker and cake-lover herself, and she was so excited that she was being quite annoying in the way only a mother can be. “Look!” she said, dragging the “oo"s out in a trilling coo. She had picked up a green cake plate. “Isn’t this nice?”

“I guess so,” I mumbled. I apparently have no appreciation for the aesthetics of a good cake plate. She nearly dropped the plate as she was putting it back on the shelf, which would’ve been humiliating.

Before deciding whether to have or eat our cake, we had lunch. This might’ve been a bad idea. Sometimes it’s best to just skip ahead to dessert. Isabel’s lunch menu is scant at best: basic sandwiches and a daily soup (a combo of the two is $6.50). I had a garden-variety turkey-and-Swiss deal on wheat. My mom had a nearly identical sandwich. They tasted like what you’d make at home.

The soup, a minestrone, was likewise lackluster and, what’s more, it came in a styrofoam bowl. I hate styrofoam. Not only is it bad for the environment, but you also can always taste it on the food. And it tastes nasty.

Lunch does come with a snickerdoodle, which is nice. But that wasn’t dessert enough for us. My mom had carrot cake ($3.99), which she described as “good, but not carroty enough” and pumpkin bread ($2), which she described as “rich and pumpkiny.” I had a Death by Chocolate bundt cake ($3.99), which my mom would’ve no doubt described as “chocolatey” had I been willing to share. It flicked that switch in my brain that only quality chocolate can flick.

They do wedding cakes and other event cakes and have a bunch of big, gaudy birthday cakes on display. My favorite one depicted a fireman rushing to put out a burning building. I assume the burning building would be the spot to put the candles. The fireman had a chainsaw lying next to him, and I was disappointed to learn that the chainsaw was made of plastic because I would love a candy chainsaw.

One strange moment during our meal was when one of the employees sat out front, eating a burger and fries that had clearly come from someplace else. Now, I understand that you get sick of the food wherever you work, but to eat something from somewhere else right in front of customers is tacky. It demonstrates that Isabel’s doesn’t take its role as a lunch destination very seriously. The focus is really all on the cakes. So why do they serve lunch at all? I don’t know. It’s a mystery.

Maybe it’s to give people a chance to eat something else and alleviate the guilt of eating cake? Well, there’s an easy solution: Go someplace else for lunch, and stop by Isabel’s afterwards for dessert. Personally, I’m going back for more cake and to buy that green plate for my mom.