A slice of Sacramento
For those who like to take a walk on the sweet side, desserts are a delightful way to end a meal, to celebrate an accomplishment or to simply treat oneself. Sacramento is home to some of the most favored original recipes and their popularity is measured by the residents who continue to satisfy their sweet tooth, no matter the occasion. Whether it’s a goblet’s worth of ice cream sundae from a local mom-and-pop shop or a towering slice of famous banana cream pie from a historic restaurant, Sacramento’s best desserts are plentiful and just as diverse as the city that’s served them for decades, a la mode.
Save room for pie
Since 1939, Frank Fat’s has fed the capital city and its residents with its original recipes for piping hot Chinese fare. Drawing politicians, state workers and the like, Frank Fat’s continues to serve its customers almost 80 years later at 8th and L streets. But there is one menu item in particular that many Sacramentans swear by—the Banana Cream Pie. It’s stacked: a buttery, flaky crust, followed by sliced bananas, rich yellow custard, yet another layer of sliced bananas and topped with a mound of fresh whipped cream. This famous pie is made from scratch daily using the same recipe that originated in the 1940s. Don’t change a classic. 806 L Street, (916) 442-7092, frankfats.com.
In a city filled with old-school desserts, there’s always room for the next wave of inventive sweets. Brothers Leo and Paolo Angelo San Luis are the founders of Vampire Penguin, a shaved ice dessert shop that now has more than 13 locations with plans for Davis and Berkeley in the near future. Unlike Hawaiian shaved ice, Vampire Penguin offers varieties of light and fluffy “shaved snow” in chocolate, strawberry, mango, cookies & cream, and taro flavors sprinkled with a smorgasbord of toppings like drizzles of condensed milk and caramel sauce, graham cracker and Oreo cookie crumbles, fresh fruit and more. 6821 Stockton Boulevard, Suite 110, (916) 421-1304, vampirepenguin.com.
Taste the sun
Have you ever seen a Green Tea Sunrise? Better yet, have you ever tasted one? Sacramento’s only Japanese bakery, Mahoroba, specializes in authentic pastries that come in both savory and sweet varieties. Owner Naruske Monguchi moved from Japan more than a decade ago and chose Sacramento because its spelling reminded him of the word “sakura,” which means cherry blossom in Japanese. Here, he bakes hundreds of pastries in the early morning hours, including the Green Tea Sunrise. Comparable to a Mexican pastry known as a concha for its shell-like appearance, the Green Tea Sunrise is soft, flaky and buttery like a croissant topped with a sweet and crunchy icing made from Japanese green tea that gives this local favorite it’s unique look and earthy flavor. 4900 Freeport Boulevard, (916) 454-1879.
Enough for two
Leatherby’s Family Creamery opened its doors on Arden Way in 1982, and since then the old-fashioned ice cream parlor has built a reputation known for one thing: enormous ice cream sundaes. Rita’s Strawberry Cake sundae, however, is no easy feat. Served in a glass goblet, the towering mountain of vanilla ice cream, shortcake, fresh strawberries, strawberry glaze, fresh whipped cream and a cherry on top for good measure is pure, sweet gluttony. Bring a friend. 2333 Arden Way, (916) 920-8382, leatherbys.net.
Come, pick me up
Desserts really do come in all shapes and sizes, and there’s nothing more classic than an old-fashioned doughnut. Whether it’s an early morning pick-me-up dipped in black coffee, or a late-night excursion to this little doughnut hut in the middle of the night, Marie’s Donuts is definitely a treasured Sacramento staple. On your next visit, order the Old Fashioned: a dense, cake-y, glazed doughnut with just a hint of vanilla. It’s simply sweet just like the memories it rekindles. 2950 Freeport Boulevard, (916) 444-5245.
Worth a toast
There’s nothing more elegant in appearance than a Champagne Cake from Freeport Bakery. This iconic bakery has its stamp on a number of favored desserts in the Farm-to-Fork capital: Fruit Basket Cakes, Lemon Coolers and Tiramisu. Still, the layers of golden buttermilk cake doused in a little champagne and layered with a sweet, strawberry custard mousse is to die for. After it’s frosted in a light pink buttercream, it’s finished with white chocolate shavings and sliced strawberries. Each bite is sweetly satisfying with spongy, creamy moments and the hint of bubbly makes this dessert a real toast of the town. 2966 Freeport Boulevard, (916) 442-4256, freeportbakery.com.
Just a bite
Sacramento is home to a variety of authentic bakeries from a diverse array of cultures, and ABC Bakery is one spot that’s divvied up Hong Kong-style Egg Tarts for decades. Known for its dim sum, ABC Bakery is also popular for these individual-sized, mini desserts that sell out daily. Keep in mind, desserts are a nice way to end a hearty meal, but it doesn’t always have to be mounds of ice cream or thick slices of pie. In fact, bite-sized desserts can be just as satisfying. 1309 Florin Road, Suite F, (916) 421-4259.