Plenty of opportunities exist in Vegas for satisfying your sweet tooth, but for the discriminating, here are four spots you may have to make a detour for.
Jean-Philippe Patisserie in Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (tel 702/693-8788; www.jpchocolates.com), makes us swoon, not just because it has the world’s largest chocolate fountain (20 feet high! Though only 11 feet are on view, and they won’t let us drink from it. Darn!), but perhaps, more to the point, it’s the home of World Pastry champion Jean-Philippe Maury. (Yes, you can win gold medals for pastries.) Each visit causes us to spin around distractedly, trying to take in all the choices, both visually and gastronomically. From perfect gourmet chocolates to ice cream to diet-conscious sorbets to the eponymous pastries, each of which are little works of art, we hit greed overload. For us, this is true Vegas decadence—if only “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” applied to calories. The patisserie also serves some solidly good sandwiches, and some adequate savory crepes. It is open Monday through Thursday from 6am to 11pm and Friday through Sunday from 6am until midnight. There’s a second location inside Aria Las Vegas, but they don’t have the chocolate fountain.
A local favorite for more than 50 years is Freed’s Bakery, 9815 S. Eastern Ave., at Silverado Ranch Blvd. (tel 702/456-7762; www.freedsbakery.com), open Monday through Thursday from 9am to 8pm, Friday and Saturday from 8am to 8pm, and Sunday from 9am to 6pm. If you’ve got a serious sugar craving, this is worth the 20-minute drive from the Strip. It’s like walking into Grandma’s kitchen, provided you had an old-fashioned granny who felt pastries should be gooey, chocolaty, and buttery. Their signature wedding cakes will make you want to rush down the aisle, but you’ll want to bring a basket for the fresh bread, napoleons, strawberry cheesecake, cream puffs, sweet rolls, danishes, and doughnuts, many of which are made with surprisingly fresh ingredients. Some may find the goodies too heavy and rich, but for those of us with a powerful sweet tooth, this place hits the spot. There is no dining area so everything is to go; do try to at least make it to your car before you start digging in.
Just down the street is the delightful The Cupcakery, 9680 S. Eastern Ave. (tel 702/207-2253; www.thecupcakery.com). The delectable goodies here aren’t large, but they pack a wallop of moist cake and creamy frosting. Clever combinations include Boston cream pie (filled with custardy cream), but even the basic chocolate-on-chocolate is a buttercream pleasure. There are even sugar-free cupcakes for those with such dietary needs. The Cupcakery is open Monday through Friday from 8am to 8pm, Saturday from 10am to 8pm, and Sunday from 10am to 6pm.
Hot Vegas days call for cool desserts, and frozen custard (softer than regular ice cream, but harder than soft serve) is a fine way to go. Head for Luv-It Frozen Custard, 505 E. Oakey (tel 702/384-6452; www.luvitfrozencustard.com), open Sunday through Thursday from 1 to 10pm and Friday and Saturday from 1 to 11pm. Because custard has less fat and sugar than premium ice cream, you can even fool yourself into thinking this is somewhat healthful (ha!). Made every few hours using fresh cream and eggs, the custard is available in basic flavors for cup or cone, but more exotic flavors (maple walnut, apple spice, and others) come in tubs.
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