"Dessert" is the one food category that can pit an opinionated pal against another opinionated pal (if only as long as it takes for the sweet treat to arrive with two forks).
Because what does it mean, exactly?
Interpretations are plentiful. It's something sweet at the end of the meal, yes, but that can incorporate a variety of foodstuffs. The cold, like ice creams, sorbets, and frozen bars. The gooey, like sauce-laden flourless cakes. The convenient, meaning cupcakes and cookies and easily holdable items. And the odd, like Nutella and melted cheese on a piece of flat bread. (Mmm -- okay, that's not too odd.)
National Dessert Day -- that's Oct. 14, of course -- is the one time of the year when sweet seeker-outers may fully pause and consider what exactly defines their favorite part of a meal. And is it dessert if it isn't paired with an entree and appetizer? Can it be eaten any time of the day?
T-shirts and greeting cards recommend that we eat dessert first, or only dessert, so we suppose it can indeed be a stand-alone experience. If you yourself are thinking of eating dessert first, given that Oct. 14 is a Monday this year, may we recommend you do so at...
Pizzeria Mozza: If you know the Melrose & Highland pie palace, you know that fans will very often start by recommending not a favorite savory dish but a dessert: the butterscotch budino, to be specific. It's the sea salt that really gives it the kick, and the rosemary pine nut cookies assist. Seriously, how many pizza places lead with their desserts? This one can.
Sweet Lady Jane: One cannot mention "dessert" and "Melrose" without a sugar-sweet shout-out for this West Hollywood stalwart. Everything is on point, but the Coconut Cake gets mentioned often and with a sigh. Try having a five-minute chitchat with a longtime Lady Janer and see if this particular cake doesn't get a mention. Also? Flan. We think we've spoken our piece here.
Porto's: Please. In the way that "flan" can say so much, merely typing "Porto's" should say everything to anyone who has swung by the Burbank, Downey, or Glendale restaurants for a Cubano sandwich, a couple of potato balls, and tall iced tea. The cake cases are Astounding, capital A, and we half-believe that merely standing in their icing-laden presence can turn any so-so afternoon right around. Try it, seriously, but keep a few bucks on hand for a slice of lemon mousse, in case you need an extra pick-me-up and all of that cake-staring doesn't give you that full-on dessert delight that you require.