20 Tacoma stops for chocolates, pastries, cookies, cakes and ice cream (hello, Valentine’s Day)
Because restaurants are swamped and lines are long and reservations are so hard to come by, I tell diners to keep it simple for Valentine’s Day: Visit a local chocolate maker or bakery and buy your sweetie something sweet.
You usually can get in and out of a sweet shop fairly quickly. You can buy the treats a day or three in advance of the holiday. And what’s better than handing over something handcrafted by a local baker or candy maker? Prepare yourself for a sugar coma and grab your stretchy pants. Here’s a carb-laden tour of Tacoma.
CHOCOLATE SHOPS IN THE TACOMA AREA
BROWN AND HALEY FACTORY STORES
Tacoma: 110 E. 26th St., Tacoma; 253-620-3067
Fife: 3500 20th St. E., Fife; 253-620-3030
Heart-shaped tins full of Roca, sea salt caramel Roca, regular Roca, dark Roca. There’s a whole wide world of Roca available at the two outlet stores from local chocolate maker, Brown and Haley.
4401 Industry Drive E., Fife; 253-235-4866, emilyschocolates.com
Emily Paulose, the namesake behind Emily’s Chocolates in Fife, has all kinds of treats for lovers of chocolate, nuts and chocolate-covered nuts (because all three are pretty great). She expects the dark-chocolate-covered cherries and the chocolate-covered almonds to be among the most popular items this year. She also suggested shoppers pick up her company’s signature fortune cookies dunked in milk chocolate and stuffed with love messages. For that low carber in your life, check out the company’s Sriracha hot chili almonds. And this year, “we’ve created a milk chocolate bark with super cute sprinkles in fun colors,” she said. This is your go-to stop in the region for chocolate-covered nuts.
JOHNSON CANDY COMPANY
924 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma; 253-272-8504
Tacoma’s Hilltop chocolate store is as old fashioned a store as candy stores come. For multiple generations, this chocolate maker has been delighting Tacoma with handmade truffles, dipped caramels, seafoam and my favorite dark chocolate sea salt caramels.
Per usual, shoppers can buy an empty box and have it filled with whatever selection a shopper wants. “We do of course have a huge variety of all sorts of boxes that people can choose from to be packed upstairs, or they can bring in old favorites for a small repacking fee,” said Bill Johnson.
I spotted vegan chocolates in the candy shop at Christmas, which you can read about here, and guess what? They’ll have even more flavors for Valentine’s Day. They’re priced $19 a pound.
The vegan varieties “are mostly nut clusters (peanut, almond, cashew, hazelnut, pecan, walnut, macadamia) and candied fruit (mango, orange and lemon peel, blueberries, apricots) hand-dipped in dark chocolate. Our seafoam in dark chocolate is also vegan. The ingredients I think are pretty straightforward, and they are all delicious,” said Johnson.
OLD CANNERY FUDGE COUNTER
13608 Valley Ave E., Sumner; 253-863-0422, oldcanneryfurniture.com
Yes, it’s a furniture store. Yes, it’s also the area’s best destination for handmade fudge. Head deep into the cavernous furniture emporium to find the fudge and candy counter. The fudge is made on site. The usual fudge suspects are represented, including peanut butter, plain chocolate and usually some kind of berry swirl. Valentine’s flavors in stock right now include red velvet cheesecake, dark chocolate caramel with sea salt, and haystack.
610 N. First St., Tacoma; 253-327-1860, teasechocolates.com
Tease Chocolates in the Stadium neighborhood is Tacoma’s only high-end chocolatier that specializes in bean-to-bar chocolate making. Artisan chocolate makers Julie and Topher Farrell said they’ll sell heart-shaped boxes of candy this year, but also drinking chocolate with marshmallows and a five-piece seasonal flavor truffle box. Topher Farrell said this year’s seasonal flavors include “Kiss Me Caramels, Damiana, Pink & Blue Lotus and Cupid’s Bow.” And “Vegantine’s Day” flavors are hazelnut, sesame yuzu, almond, fig and champagne and dragon fruit. “Very limited supplies,” said Farrell.
BAKERIES IN THE TACOMA AREA
Got a pastry lover you want to buy for? Here’s a tour of local bakeries.
4500 Steilacoom Blvd SW, Lakewood, 253-589-6036, tacomaculinary.com/bon-sucre-bistro (limited hours)
Clover Park Technical College’s student-run bakery is a pastry-bargain paradise in Lakewood. It’s always a surprise what they’re baking. “We will have assorted cookies and pastries ranging from $1.50 to $3.75,” said chef-instructor Shelley Newman. Did I say they were a bargain? Yes, they are. Buy in bulk. There are usually cookies, pastries and other individually portioned desserts. Sometimes there’s handmade chocolates. NOTE: Newman said the college bakery is only open Wednesday (February 12) and Thursday (February 13) next week, from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The bakery is in the southwest corner of Building 23 on campus.
Inside Paldo World, 9701 South Tacoma Way, 253-682-3488
This French-Korean bakery, inside the Lakewood Korean grocery store Paldo World, is the ultimate destination for macarons, the delicate Parisian cookies made with almond flour and filled with buttercream or ganache. There are usually around 10 flavors of macarons in the display case to the left of the register. I’m a sucker for green tea or the coconut, but you’d be remiss if you didn’t try the milk-flavored macaron. There’s also an assortment of cookies, single-serve desserts, pastries and pretty cakes. It’s also home to the area’s best cream puffs.
720 E. Main St., Puyallup, 253-200-2342, britishbites.net
This downtown Puyallup British grocery store, tea cafe and bakery features a small selection of handmade British pastries in its bakery case. I’m a huge fan of the shortbread cookies and banoffee tarts. The shop also offers tea service, but call in advance for reservations.
CELEBRITY CAKE STUDIO
314 E. 26th St., Tacoma; 253-627-4773, celebritycakestudio.com
This Dome District bakery in Tacoma has garnered awards and accolades for its elaborate cakes, but it also specializes in individually sized desserts. There’s an assortment of cupcakes (the pink champagne is a must try), plus petit fours, cake-by-the-slice, tea cakes, brownies and decorated cookies.
602 Fawcett Ave., Tacoma; 253-627-5070, corinabakery.com
This St. Helens neighborhood bakery specializes in cake-by-the-slice, delicious pastries and macarons, plus Tacoma’s best banana pudding. Owner Molly Ott said she’s offering chocolate covered strawberries and Bordeaux cherries. She’s got cute little sweetheart-themed Rice Krispies treats, heart-shaped cheesecakes, “conversation heart” macaron cookies and heart-shaped shortbread cookies. And, for the vegan or gluten-free eater in your life, there’s always something in the display case for those with dietary restrictions.
GERMAN PASTRY SHOP
6108 Mount Tacoma Drive SW, Lakewood, 253-588-5777
This Lakewood bakery specializes in cake-by-the-slice in around a dozen flavors that are available all the time, but there’s also cream-filled eclairs, strudels and other German pastries and cookies.
1740 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, 253-383-7772, hello-cupcake.com
This downtown Tacoma cupcake emporium is known for its fanciful flavors and February brings out the best. Find chocolate strawberry and Shirley Temple flavored cupcakes this month.
MARVEL BAY CAFE AND BAKERY
301 133rd St. S., Tacoma, 253-267-5159, marvelbaycafe.com
This Parkland cafe has a broad selection of European-American baked goods, as does its sister business next door, Marvel Food & Deli. At Marvel Bay Cafe, do not miss the Nutella-filled baklava, the mini Danish, the biscotti or the chocolate truffles if they’re in the display case. Next door, there’s mini cheesecakes and sweet or savory piroshki.
OLD TIMES BAKERY
3514 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253-625-5898
This newish bakery on Pacific Avenue specializes in Uruguayan pastries, but also a wide selection of European style baked goods, as I wrote in this story. The pastry case features tray after tray of cannoli, slices of tiramisu, madeleines, strudel, flaky pastries filled with guava or cheese and a few styles of alfajores.
PASTELES FINOS DEL ANGEL
5102 S. Washington St., Tacom, 253-448-2649, facebook.com/pastelesfinosdelangel
Think of this South Tacoma Mexican-European bakery the best destination for single-serve desserts, such as tiramisu and flan, but here’s something really cool. The bakery has a specialty in vegan desserts. A Valentine’s Day special will be chocolate-dipped strawberry bouquets. And if you’re looking for a King Cake for Mardi Gras, this bakery makes them.
TACOMA BAKING COMPANY
1316 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Tacoma; facebook.com/tacomabakingcompany
Tacoma’s newest bakery in the Hilltop is becoming a go-to for sweet pastries (and savory. And bread. And croissants). Who wouldn’t love a fruit tart for Valentine’s Day?
2102 E. Main St., Puyallup; 253-256-5566; wannacupcake.com
This downtown Puyallup bakery carries the broadest selection of cupcakes in East Pierce County. Check the Facebook page for the bakery flavors. If strawberry shortcake is available, GET IT.
ICE CREAM SCOOP SHOPS WITH PINTS
BLISS SMALL BATCH CREAMERY
3556 Market Place W., University Place, 253-327-1922, icecreambliss.com
This University Place scoop shop recently introduced decadent milk shakes that are towering monstrosities. Also check out their selection of pints and novelty ice cream items.
ICE CREAM SOCIAL
Sixth Ave: 2914 Sixth Ave., Tacoma
Ruston: 5107 Main St. Ruston
This scoop shop has locations in Point Ruston and on Sixth Avenue. This month’s specials include cherry chocolate pistachio swirl and rose. Available by the pint, scoop or sundae.