At first glance, Dominique Ansel's self-titled bakery appears driven by gimmicks with a menu that includes frozen s'mores, a cookie shot filled with vanilla milk, and the officially trademarked Cronut. However, Ansel is the real deal. The French chef puts together pastries and treats that not only impress with creativity, but the precision of a science lab. A simple croissant is a multi-day process, with layers of dough folded with butter into a perfectly flakey crust and cotton-like center. A chocolate version uses three batons (or small bars) of European dark chocolate. The aforementioned croissant-doughnut hybrid is a success in marketing, but it all began as the chef's vision for perfecting a better doughnut. Even more impressive: the monthly flavor never repeats. Ever. It's a challenge the team takes seriously. The DKA (Dominique's Kouign Amann) is actually the bakery's best-selling item: a pastry with a sugary crust and a touch of salt.
How to order: Just show up or pre-order online.
Filipino-born chef Ramir DeCastro once made the Yonaka a top place for sushi in Vegas, but now uses familiar baked goods like doughnuts, pies, and cakes to showcase flavors from his home country at the Purple Potato Bakery west of the Strip. The business is named in honor of ube purple yams, native to the Philippines and featured in many of the recipes. You'll also see pastries composed with calamansi (a citrus fruit), young coconut, and yema (a caramel-like custard). The layered doughnuts take three days to make (similar to a croissant) with the dough fermented and folded in layers of butter before fry time. Polvoron versions are modeled after a dry Filipino shortbread with fillings that include not only ube, but pandan (an aromatic tropical plant) and flan (with extra yolks for added richness). Just make sure to try the cookies (crunchy on the edges, soft in the center) and ensaymada (snacking bread often made with cheese). Balance out the sweetness with a hot, savory BBQ chicken hand pie or caldereta, a meat stew with a pastry top.
How to order: Walk in or order online.
Urth Caffe is so proud of its pumpkin pie, it's served not just during fall and winter, but year round. You can even order a slice on the spot. It's a delicious dessert that's thick in volume, light in texture, and not overly sweet, sitting on a crumbled bed of house-made graham cracker crust. The apple pie is nearly as good, baked with caramelized, hand-peeled Granny Smith slices. The pies, along with pastries, ranging from fruit tarts to croissants and scones, are made with imported French butter for a clean, creamy taste. Urth Caffe first came to Las Vegas a few years ago, setting up shop at the Wynn resort, but now has a larger, more accessible location at the new UnCommons complex in the Southwest Valley. Everything is made from scratch in a Southern California kitchen and driven to Vegas daily without fail.
How to order: Online orders are available.
Benyeh is a fun concept at Downtown Summerlin that turns beignets into an easy grab-and-go treat without skimping on quality. The kitchen is run by Orady Ditgnavong, a French pastry chef who worked with Jean-Phillippe Maury at the Bellagio and Alain Ducasse's Rivea at the Delano. Her variations on the pastries change with the season, but the base batter always retains a clean, simple taste, thanks to a combination of European butter, lemon zest, and vanilla bean. Whether the beignets are topped with a natural pumpkin sauce with candied pecans or a mango-passionfruit mix, guests are encouraged to shake up the order in an oyster pail box (the kind used for Chinese takeout) to evenly disperse the ingredients. Delicate choux pastries (stuffed with chocolate, raspberry, or matcha green tea) pair well with the Mocha—two shots of espresso, choice of milk, and imported dark chocolate with no extra syrups or sugar.
How to order: Walk in or order online.
Las Vegas has a thriving cottage baking scene, but few do it better than Brett Boyer and Brendon Wilharber of Desert Bread, selling bread, pastries, and other seasonal baked goods out of their home east of the airport. Boyer perfected his craft in Berkeley at Chez Panisse, where he first learned the "farm to table" ethos. He continues that mission in Vegas by sourcing fruits and produce locally. Between a variety of breads, from New York-style bagels to Bay Area-style sourdough, and European-inspired pastries, everything is all natural and organic. The choices vary per week, but look out for eggnog cruffins, ginger snaps, and Meyer lemon croissant twists this winter.
How to order: Place an order online for pickup Wednesday or Saturday morning.
Andrea McLean has strong credentials as a pastry chef, honing her skills in kitchens at Thomas Keller's Bouchon and Joël Robuchon's eponymous restaurant. She took advantage of the downtime during the early days of the pandemic to launch her own venture, PopNPies, preparing pies to order from scratch with an addictive buttery crust. No canned fillings or preservatives. Slices are available to buy on the spot downtown at the Vegas Test Kitchen and have shown up on restaurant menus and special events around town. The Peanut Butter Chocolate pie is a top seller, loaded with peanut butter mousse, chocolate ganache, and toasted chopped peanuts. Expect a few new surprises in time for Christmas.
How to order: PopNPies does most of its business via Instagram or email. Slices are served at the Vegas Test Kitchen Thursday-Sunday.