7 Exceptional Tres Leches In Los Angeles
There's no such thing as a perfect tres leche. When we say that, we don't mean the tres leche hasn't achieved perfection. We mean there's no single tres leche that represents the dessert's Platonic ideal. Recipes vary from country to country, state to state and person to person. Some are thick and drowned in liquid, others have an airy texture with only a splash of milk.
Among the most popular desserts in Central and South America, tres leches is a sponge cake soaked with evaporated, condensed and whole milks (hence the "tres"). For many of Southern California's best panaderias, restaurants and caterers, it's a test of their prowess and a hallmark of excellence.
The happy result is an abundance of choices available for pick-up across Los Angeles. Here are the seven of the most delicious.
Depending on who you ask, Lucero has been killing it for either 51 or 24 years. Established as a small churro distributor in 1970 by Jesus Perez Ruano, its current iteration began in 1997 when Jesus' sons, Carlos and Pedro Perez, took over as managers. Since then, Lucero's two locations — Maywood and Commerce — have expanded their offerings to include flan, bolillos, pan dulce and other traditional Mexican pastries. None touches the Perezes' exceptional tres leches, which they offer in multiple flavors including walnut, strawberry and hazelnut. Whichever version you choose, it's lightly infused with rum and it often sells out.
- 4061 Slauson Ave., Maywood. (323) 583-7730.
- 6307 E. Gage Ave., Commerce. (323) 560-8957.
Ana Asnaran has owned and operated Coppelia's bakery and cafe since 1986 when it was located in Culver City and called "New Yorker Bakery." Born in Cuba and trained by her baker mother, Asnaran has a wealth of talents that stretch across borders. Both traditional Cuban-Caribbean and Peruvian pastries are on offer at this adorable Palms outpost. Naturally, her mango tres leches , a Coppelia’s signature, is out of this world. If you’re ready to kick things up a notch, ask about Asnaran’s "quatro leches," because sometimes, three kinds of dairy just aren't enough.
- 10825 Venice Blvd., Palms. (310) 838-0375.
Orlando Garcia and his son William opened the first Versailles in West L.A. in 1981. 40 years later, this lovely micro-chain still offers chef Garcia's signature Cuban-style tres leches for $7/serving. Each slice features layers of heavy cream and sponge cake crowned with chopped almonds, caramel zig-zags and a daub of cherry. Their pastels are unusually squat and square due to the heavy toppings but the Garcias saturate each bite with sweet, gooey milk. It's delightful and well worth the drive, wherever you're coming from. Pro Tip: parking is an expensive hassle on the streets around the Encino and Palms locations, so maybe try the quieter spot on La Cienega.
- 17410 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (818) 906-0756.
- 10319 Venice Blvd., Palms. (310) 558-3168.
- 1415 S. La Cienega Blvd., Pico-Robertson. (310) 289-0392.
El Trocadero Mesquite Steakhouse
We haven't been able to compare how the food at Raul and Dora Bojorquez's original El Trocadero in Sonora, Mexico stacks up against the Newhall outpost but it's hard to imagine anything more sumptuous than the "Trocadero Delight" tres leches they serve in the Santa Clarita Valley. With a recipe drawn from the Bojorquezes' native Nogales, El Trocadero's cake is unusually light, fluffy and plush, and it comes slathered with heavy whipped cream. Best of all, the restaurant is handicap-accessible with a dedicated parking lot out back to avoid the often cramped Main Street. It's the perfect place to stop for dessert after checking out the Old West-style neighborhood. Until the pandemic ends, El Trocadero is only doing full tres leches cakes (no slices) by special order, so plan in advance.
- 24274 Main St., Newhall. (661) 284-6615.
Panaderia Herrera (sometimes called Herrera's Bakery) isn't hard to find, thanks to its yellow-and-blue facade and John Muir-inspired murals. It's even easier to love. There are more than a few entrancing possibilities onsite, including massive, snow-white slices of housemade tres leches pastelitos. If you don't like overly sweet or sopping tres leches, this is your spot. The larger, drier sponge cake is lightly drizzled with a thin three-milk blend. If a trip to Ventura is too much of a haul, Panaderia Herrera posts mouthwatering videos of its early-morning baking sessions to Instagram so you can live vicariously.
- 480 N. Ventura Ave., Ventura. (805) 643-7106.
Tierra Mia Coffee
Angelenos should recognize this boutique coffee-maker's name from one of its 18 brick-and-mortar SoCal locations. Well known for its coffee, Tierra Mia has, in recent years, upped its pastry game, infusing its sweets with Latin American flavors and recipes. The finest examples are its signature tres leches muffins. These crusty, golden pound cakes, flush with vanilla and condensed milk, are baked fresh at its Lincoln Heights flagship and shipped out every morning. Regardless of which location you visit, they sell out fast so arrive early.
18 locations around Los Angeles including:
- 2108 N. Broadway, Lincoln Heights. (323) 987-0346.
- 660 Indian Hill Blvd., Pomona. (909) 445-9552.
- 425 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach. (562) 912-4522.
- 5528 Monte Vista St., Highland Park. (323) 344-3844.
Angel Maid Bakery
It is the rare shop that can balance taste and beauty with as much finesse as Angel Maid Bakery. How often are wedding cakes visually stunning but disappointing to eat? After nearly 50 years in business (the bakery opened in 1972), Angel Maid has its fancy, custom-made cakes down to a succulent science, and you should expect to pay for it: a 7" personal tres leches goes for $27.75 while a full sheet version costs $196. Still, for a special occasion, there may be no finer option. The tres leches here is, indeed, angelic. It's so rich with custard and cream that the owners were forced to offer a disclaimer that reads, "This is a very wet cake!” on their menu.
- 4542 S. Centinela Ave., Marina Del Rey. (310) 915-2078.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story included a bakery that has closed. We have removed that bakery from the listings and replaced it with another bakery. LAist apologizes for the error.