Following a week of spring break vacationing, Easter and a family birthday, I was literally fed up with coma -inducing meals and chocolate. Quinoa and smoothies are all I’ve been daydreaming about in the last few days, but alas, after planning to enjoy a light lunch the dining columnist got the better of me. I walked away having tried four different desserts to cap off my “light” meal at two different bakeries in Pasadena.
While balling hard and ordering varieties of everything is unabashedly great, minus the very confused glances from patrons and staff as I hover over my three entrees like Gollum protecting his precious, it does still leave my pants tighter and wallet lighter.
Since I wanted lunch, I started at Love Birds Cafe & Bakery which is tucked away from Old Pas on Colorado Boulevard. While parking is a challenge, with only a few one-hour spots out front on Colorado Boulevard, inside has more than enough seating. The large room has a glass case filled with heavenly looking baked goods — pastries such as croissants, macarons, Danishes, muffins and more. After staring too long at the rows of flaky treats, and with suggestions from the patient cashier, I ordered half of the chicken basil sandwich and half of the Asian salad ($13). Their half sandwiches look more like three fourths of a sandwich, enough to be eaten on their own, and an option on the menu ($6.95). The chicken basil had mixed greens, avocado, basil, provolone, tomatoes on sourdough. While this is a standard, uncomplicated sandwich, it hit all the right spots and I came away convinced their toasted, homemade sourdough made all the difference. Their menu boasts that the breads at LoveBirds are made in-house, and along with sourdough include seven grain, rye, egg bread, pumpernickel, ciabatta, baguette, Dr. Snyder, English Muffin and flatbread, in whole wheat or spinach. Finally, someone who loves bread as much as I do.
Another suggestion was the Asian salad as I looked over their selection of Caesar, spinach, Greek, and Cobb salads among others. I’m glad I ignored my gut instinct and went with the Asian, although how crazy can one actually get with salads? The dressing was sweet and flavorful, the chicken was served in a generous portion, and I ate the whole meal without realizing how quickly it all happened. Lucky for me it was filling without being overwhelming, so I made my way back to the baked goods that were calling my name against my better judgment. Despite an overabundance of options, they didn’t have their full list of treats the Saturday I visited since they are closed Sundays to avoid waste, but I wouldn’t have noticed. Although the cinnamon roll looked like an edible pillow, I went with the seven-layer bar ($3) to save room for my next trip. It was chilled, but had the perfect combination of chewy, crunchy, chocolatey goodness I could only hope for.
Comfortable and easygoing, LoveBirds is a sure bet to enjoy a meal without any fuss. They also make lattes, smoothies, and sell GroundWorks coffee blends. They even have an extensive and inexpensive breakfast menu. Only one item on the breakfast menu is more than $10, and that is their steak and eggs. Everything else sounds amazing, and if it’s anything like the lunch I had, surely necessary to try on my next visit.
Just up the street is a new business, LeBerry Bakery, which is more indulgent than LoveBIrds when it comes to serving unique treats. Leberry opened just more than two months ago, yet has garnered attention with the picture perfect dessert concoctions they create. Donuts range anywhere from $3-$5 and even come in vegan and gluten free options, as well as regular, which is not all too common in the world of donuts for sale. While flavors vary, I ordered a vegan vanilla glaze with chocolate drizzle, a gluten-free classic glazed topping (although in a bluish pink hue), and two regulars; a blood orange donut with pistachios on top, and a hot chocolate flavor topped with miniature marshmallows. It should go without saying, but I took them to go and shared with my family. Each was completely different, but all were amazing. The gluten-free was definitely not quite like the others, but still delicious. My personal favorite, as well as the group’s was vegan because of the mouthwatering glaze alone.
Unlike most bakeries I know of, LeBerry’s also serves mimosas and eight beers on tap. That’s right: Here, it appears, the only thing better than munching on donuts is doing so with a glass of beer. The only down side to all of this is the lack of seating, with only a few high-top tables and chairs. Still, Leberry Bakery is somewhere I’d like to be on any given weekend.
Between the two bakeries — only a few minutes from one another, they are guaranteed good food, good treats, and above all- a good time whether that be a study or work session, or a donut and a mimosa with friends.
921 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
10 S. First St, Alhambra
Major Cars/No Alcohol
445 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena