Los Angeles Pumpkin Dishes Worth Seeking

Fall Gourds

Pumpkins and spice are popular in fall beers and desserts, and not just in Starbucks lattes.

Los Angeles is immune to blustery weather that afflicts most of the U.S., but when it comes to food, we still grow and cook with many of the same seasonal ingredients. Case in point: pumpkin, which is as sure a sign of fall as you’ll find. Several enterprising Angelenos have turned the leathery orange gourd into creations that far exceed pumpkin pie and spiced lattes. Here are some top Los Angeles pumpkin dishes, all prime examples of pumpkincraft.

Thyme Cafe and Market – Santa Monica

Pumpkin Dessert Los Angeles

Maire Byrne may own this seasonally inspired Sunset Park café, but it’s pastry chef Lisa Vega who decided to grab the pumpkin by the stem. Vega previously worked at Providence, Craft and Yountville’s Bouchon Bakery. Her pumpkin tart costs $4 and features a scintillating gingersnap crust made with repurposed gingersnap cookies. Her creamy pumpkin puree contains an intoxicating mix of brown sugar, nutmeg, clove and cinnamon. The topper is a clever pumpkin seed garnish that provides added texture.

Craft – Century City [CLOSED]

Pumpkin Dessert Los Angeles

At Tom Colicchio’s Century City outpost, pastry chef Shannon Swindle oversees a sprawling dessert menu that allows you to mix and match seasonal fruit, ice cream and sorbet with “classics,” but your best bet is to look to the composed “Combinations” listed at the bottom of the page. $12 may seem like a lot to pay for dessert, but this is Century City, and the quality level is high. Swindle’s contribution to pumpkindom is a Pumpkin Clafouti with Spiced Pear & Cajeta Ice Cream. His clafouti is a fluffy cross between a souffle and a pancake, studded with pumpkin seeds and layered with naturally sweet slices Bosc pear. The hot clafouti comes hot in cast iron dish and is paired with a cool scoop of cajeta ice cream ribboned with rich goat’s milk caramel.


Pumpkin Dessert Los Angeles

Chef-owner Susan Sarich has capitalized on her nostalgia for childhood classics by growing a four-branch SusieCakes empire in Southern California. She always features compelling seasonal specials and currently offers three different pumpkin desserts: pumpkin spice cupcakes, pumpkin pie (of course) and best of all: mini pumpkin cheesecake ($4.95). The pumpkin cheesecake is absolutely luxurious, with a tangy layer of sour cream that cuts the richness, a crushed Graham cracker crust and a spice dusting.

The Terrace @ The Langham Huntington – Pasadena

Soup Los Angeles

At The Langham Huntington, Pasadena, Chef Loren Lawe’s Spicy Pumpkin Butternut Squash Soup has been so successful over the past two years that it is now a permanent menu item at The Terrace that transcends seasons. The Terrace even offers guests a recipe card to take away with them. Pumpkin soup includes chopped pumpkin and butternut squash, chicken broth, milk, brown sugar and maple syrup. It’s frothy, drizzled with olive oil and strewn with crunchy pumpkin seeds.

There’s one other pumpkin creation in the works that’s worth tracking. Last month, Library Bar bartender Matt Biancaniello said he was planning to infuse bourbon with roasted pumpkin, add allspice syrup and top the unnamed cocktail with eggnog foam.

If you know of a pumpkin dish in L.A. that I missed, please comment below. Your recommendation can be savory or sweet.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

The only dish you didn’t mention that I also found noteworthy was SusieCake’s pumpkin pie but I agree that the cheesecake is wonderful. Bless you for singling out Thyme Cafe’s pumpkin tart. My second visit there was a quick coffee before taking an out of town guest there on the way to LAX. The tart was sublime. Nice to know its pedigree.

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