Still a Neighborhood Gem - Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe [Thoughts + Pics]

It seems like only yesterday that I ran across the excited chatter on our old board from @Dommy @bulavinaka and others talking about Pastry Chef Zoe Nathan’s new Breakfast & Brunch spot opening up known as Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe. It is at once shocking and yet understandable to think upon Huckleberry today and realize it’s almost forgotten in some ways. It’s so close by but over the past couple of years we haven’t been back and it now feels like a distant memory.

What was once a star on our old board had pretty much disappeared from any chatter on our new board. None of my friends (nor us) had been to Huckleberry in years. What happened?

Reflecting a bit, the most obvious answer is one word:

Gjusta. :slight_smile:

In many ways, Gjusta does everything Huckleberry does, but better and with more variety (although their Pastries are only so-so, except a few stellar standouts). But thinking some more, besides Gjusta, places like Republique and many other bakeries started opening up and making their mark on the L.A. landscape as well. There was never any major controversy, but it just felt like Huckleberry got passed by.

We felt a bit nostalgic and with it being so close, we decided to stop by again to see how Huckleberry fared these days.

The first thing to note is that those fearing those horrendous crazy lines can relax now (@bulavinaka) :wink: as on our latest visits, there were only about 2 - 4 people ahead of us at any time. It’s still busy, but not the madness that was Huckleberry in its early years.

The pastry case is filled with tempting and delicious looking creations, with some of their old classics still there, like Pastry Chef Zoe Nathan’s Maple Bacon Biscuit.

These days Huckleberry is run by Executive Chef Erin Eastland and Pastry Chef-Owner Zoe Nathan was nowhere to be found during our visits (which is sad, because we adored her Pastries from the early years).

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookie:

I love Almond Butter and Peanut Butter, so seeing this in the Pastry Case meant instant order. :slight_smile: This turned out to be shockingly phenomenal! :blush: Especially for being a Vegan Peanut Butter Cookie, there was so much fragrant, deep Peanut Butter goodness in each bite, it was a real delight. :slight_smile:

Blueberry Cornmeal Cake:

This was quite tender and moist, with a burst of Blueberry flavor and a nice Cornmeal texture in each bite. :slight_smile:

Greek Salad (Cucumber, Garbanzo Beans, Marinated Red Peppers, Olives, Pepperoncini, Red Onion & Oregano Vinaigrette):

This was part of their Salad Deli Case, which contains a variety of freshly made, but ready-to-go daily Salads, which reminded us of what Gjusta was doing, but not as visually appealing and vibrant (they were hidden in a refrigerated Salad Case with dark lighting).

But thankfully the flavors were bold and still bright with a nice burst from the bright Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Olives and a zesty, piquant Dressing. (Note this visit was actually from a few months ago, on the tail end of Tomato season, the later visits were more recent.)

Fried Egg Sandwich (with Sunny Side Up Eggs, Niman Ranch Bacon, Gruyere, Arugula & Aioli on Country Bread):

Huckleberry’s Fried Egg Sandwich arrives on a crusty, crunchy toasted Country Bread (baked fresh every day from their sister restaurant Milo & Olive down the street and brought over to Huckleberry in the morning). The first bite starts with a satisfying crunch, yielding to a nice runny Sunny Side Up Egg Yolk, a bit of bitterness from the Arugula and more crunch from the Niman Ranch Bacon. A bit of creaminess from their Housemade Aioli and Gruyere seals the deal.

Delicious! :blush:

In light of the greatness that is Gjusta’s Egg Sandwich, Huckleberry’s isn’t as good, but it’s quite tasty and still a great Breakfast Sandwich option.

On another visit (perhaps our 14th or so visit? But only our 2nd recent visit)…

Hot Tea (Art of Tea - White Blossom):

Fragrant and light and warming on the chilly morning. :slight_smile:

Monkey Bread:

Decadent “Cinnamon Roll”-like creation. A bit too sweet but a bit nostalgic, reminding me of a (much better) Cinnamon Roll growing up. :slight_smile:

Organic Fried Chicken Sandwich (Spicy Coleslaw, House Pickles, Bill’s Bees Honey, Huck Hot Sauce, Aioli on a Brioche Burger Bun, Mixed Greens):

These days it feels like we’re seeing Fried Chicken or Fried Chicken Sandwiches everywhere, as if a reaction to the culinary wave created by Howlin’ Ray’s. Although I think Huckleberry might’ve been doing this before Howlin’ started? Either way, with it being served with a “Huck Hot Sauce,” it felt like this was Huckleberry trying to jump on the bandwagon, which is fine if it tastes good. :wink:

Taking a bite, there’s an actual slight crunchiness (but no crispiness). The Chicken is still juicy and has good marinade and flavor(!). With so many Fried Chicken disappointments around town, it is really nice to see Huckleberry nail it with this Fried Chicken Sandwich. (@TheCookie)

Green Eggs & Ham (2 Eggs Sunny Side Up, Prosciutto de Parma, Wild Arugula, Basil Pesto on Housemade English Muffin):

There is no other dish that I remembered (and enjoyed) more than Pastry Chef Zoe Nathan’s original offering of “Green Eggs & Ham.” First, I grew up reading Dr. Seuss. Secondly, it’s just an adorable name with a great execution, as you get “Green Eggs” (Sunny Side Up Eggs topped with an absolutely wonderful Housemade Pesto (Green)), served with “Ham” (Prosciutto di Parma).

On this visit, it’s still as enjoyable as we remembered our first visit, and the Housemade English Muffin with a nice toasty crunch rounded things out nicely. :heart:

On another visit…

Cinnamon Sugar Donut:

Their Cinnamon Sugar Donut tasted fine, airy, well fried, sweet.

Kouign Amann Danish:

We were in the mood to try Huckleberry’s version of Kouign Amann, but the only version they had was a variation on the original, as a “Danish.”

This was tasty, with a beautiful Blueberry and Almond Paste center, but not really resembling a “Kouign Amann” at all. Still, a tasty Pastry to start off the morning. :wink:

Fried Egg Sandwich (with Sunny Side Up Eggs, Niman Ranch Bacon, Gruyere, Arugula & Aioli on Country Bread):

We were craving a Breakfast Sandwich more than a Burrito on this visit, so we decided to order their Fried Egg Sandwich again. It was just as delicious as our previous recent visit, a crunchy crusty toasted Country Bread, nice Sunny Side Up Eggs, some crunchy Bacon, Gruyere and bright bitter Arugula and some Aioli.

Organic Turkey Meatball Sandwich (Marinara, Walnut and Basil Pesto, Toasted Ciabatta, Mixed Greens + Add Local Mozzarella):

I wasn’t expecting much, but wanted to try something new on this visit. Then I took a bite:

The rather sturdy-looking Ciabatta Bread turns out to be quite soft and pliable, but sturdy enough to hold the massive sandwich together. There’s a surprising pillowy quality to the Housemade Ciabatta Bread, with a little bit of appealing tang and slight salinity, which gives way to the gooey, melty, delicious fresh Mozzarella, and then you bite through into this zesty, deeply savory, umami Turkey Meatball, not dense at all, but moist, bursting with flavor and tender, and that combines perfectly with the incredible Marinara Sauce and aromatic, herbal House Walnut & Basil Pesto!

Best Meatball Sandwich We’ve Had In Years! :heart: :blush: :heart:

I was totally surprised because it’s not something I would associate Huckleberry with, but it was great. :slight_smile:

On our most recent visit…

We had to go back and just make sure the 2 new offerings were consistently good (and not just a fluke).

Rye Dark Chocolate Brownie:

This was deeply chocolatey, dense, but not overly dense, and still moist. It’s one of the better Chocolate Brownies I’ve tried recently, but Gjusta’s Pumpernickel Fudge Brownie is just better in every way. Still quite a nice treat if you’re in the mood for one and in the area. :slight_smile:

Organic Fried Chicken Sandwich (Cabbage Slaw, House Pickles, Bill’s Bees Honey, Huck Hot Sauce, Aioli, Toasted Brioche Bun, Mixed Greens):

Huckleberry’s Organic Fried Chicken Sandwich arrives lightly crunchy, still juicy and with a solid flavor. The Cabbage Slaw has a bit of a South Western flair to it, and the Brioche Bun is quite soft, but still holds up throughout each bite. It’s just as good as the previous visit. Delicious! :blush:

Organic Turkey Meatball Sandwich (Marinara, Walnut and Basil Pesto, Toasted Ciabatta, Mixed Greens + Add Local Mozzarella):

We were most excited and filled with trepidation over this dish though: I think I was afraid the last visit’s amazing Turkey Meatball Sandwich might just be a fluke or a dream. Taking a bite:

The dream continues! :heart:

It’s just this amazing, messy, glorious interplay of great ingredients coming together: Soft, but sturdy enough pliable Ciabatta. Wonderful melting fresh Mozzarella, nicely spiced and flavored Housemade Organic Turkey Meatballs coated in an umami-rich Marinara Sauce. And then that amazing Walnut & Basil Pesto! SO GOOD! :heart:

If I had one minor quibble is that it’s a touch on the salty side (just a touch), but still so crave-worthy that it’s making me drool just thinking about it right now. :sweat_smile:

Service is still fast-casual: You order at the counter and then take a number and seat yourself. You get your own filtered water and extra napkins or get up and ask for refills at the counter.

Almost nearly forgotten among many of our friends, Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe turns out to be humming along just fine, cooking up good Pastries and great Breakfast and Brunch items, with a thankfully less maddening wait (compared to its early years).

But it’s apparent why many of us have forgotten about the place: Some competitors have risen up since Huckleberry first opened and just do it better. Gjusta’s Breakfast and Brunch (and Lunch) options are just more appealing, has a wider variety and is just better executed, from their daily fresh Market Salads (with so many vibrant flavors and choices) to the incredible Breakfast options and Smoked Seafood Case, and then you get into their world-class Sandwiches. It’s ridiculous.

Republique has better Pastries in many ways, with a much greater selection and some good savory dishes for Breakfast and Brunch as well.

But what these latest visits have shown us is that despite all of that, Huckleberry holds its own in many ways. There’s a great Fried Egg Sandwich and that always delicious Green Eggs & Ham for Breakfast. Their Pastries are still enjoyable and pretty solid, and they have a selection of Deli Case Salads. They also make a very good Fried Chicken Sandwich (although it won’t topple Howlin’ Ray’s anytime soon).

However, if you’re craving something more savory and substantial, don’t miss out on Huckleberry’s outstanding Organic Turkey Meatball Sandwich. That’s one thing that makes it stand out from the crowd and something we’re glad to go back for whenever we’re in the mood.

Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe
1014 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica CA 90401
(310) 451-2311


What days of the week were you there??? My understanding is that the lines have always been manageable during the weekday.

I haven’t been in a few yrs. I thought/think the food there is terrific, on the only misses I had were the breakfast burrito (oddly tasteless) and the potato flatbread (cold but too charred).

I love a good meatball sandwich, so maybe I’ll try that (well, my mouth loves the sandwich, my stomach does not)… :slight_smile:

I do feel like Gjusta and Huckleberry have diff strengths, so maybe time for a revisit. :smiley: Thanks for the reminder.


Nice to know the lines arent bad. I recall going during the week with lines hitting the back door. Huckleberry often offer posset in the cold case next to the pastries. Lemon or chocolate is usually in there, but the passion fruit is my favorite.

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Hi @paranoidgarliclover,

Thanks. :slight_smile: Hm, on these last few visits, one was prime Breakfast hour (8 - 9 a.m.), then prime lunch hour (11:30 - 1:00 p.m.) roughly?

Thanks for the warning on the breakfast burrito, I was eyeing that, but from your experience, glad we skipped it then. :wink: Yah in general we never had a major problem with Huckleberry, it just kinda fell off our radar when other places opened up.

I hope you like the Organic Turkey Meatball Sandwich.:slight_smile:

Wow. That meatball sandwich looks great. Always loved huckleberry. Did not go for over 3 years and went recently and was just as good as it used to be. I also like their other join up the road Milo and Olive. Great pizzas.

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Hi @bulavinaka,

Oh nice! I saw some refrigerated desserts there (like the Chocolate Eclair - have you tried it?), but didn’t see the Posset. I’ll try their Passion Fruit next time. :slight_smile:

Good shout out @Chowseeker1999

We’re fickle, that’s what.

Ummm…@Chowseeker1999? Did you snap your fingers and make them fill up the bakery case for your 2nd visit? It looks so bountiful.

:doughnut: :doughnut:

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Thanks @TheCookie. :slight_smile: Have you tried Huckleberry before? If so, what did you like there? :slight_smile:

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Oh yes, it was a mild obsession for a bit. I was once responsible for the employee phones at my office. Our phone guy was close to Huckleberry and I would find every excuse to go to his shop… and come back with sweets. Favorite? It’s been a long while, but I remember loving that blueberry cornmeal cake. :blush: I love the rustics.

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I recently discovered Huckleberry’s Cheesecake.

My pants wish I didn’t.

But my tailor is quite happy about.


Have you had Gwen’s? That’s hard to beat. It’s been years since I have had HB’s but wasn’t as delicious as Gwen’s.

Great report - I have always been pretty happy with Huckleberry and, you are right, it does get overlooked

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Plain or is there a specific flavor?

I usually just settle for whatever is in the case. But I’ve only had it topped with strawberry. No complaints.


Hi @ipsedixit,

Thanks for the tip! I’ll have to try their Cheesecake next time. :slight_smile:

Thanks @CiaoBob. Yes, I’ve had Gwen’s. Liked it, but it was oversalted on our visit. I’m hoping it was just a fluke. Huckleberry’s was moister, more tender and the overall sandwich just merged together in a more satisfying, savory flavor (but maybe it’s just my taste buds). :wink:

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Meatball sandwich add mozzarella has been my go-to at Huckleberry for years. Always delicious. As for lines, it is still packed during prime brunch/lunch hour on the weekend.

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Does the line still extend all the way back to the exit door?

It does.

Been craving some Huckleberry since @Chowseeker1999’s report. Dat turkey meatball sandwich was as good as advertised! Adding cheese really takes it over the top. Thanks for the reminder what a gem this place is.

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I should’ve taken a photo, but my meatball sandwich on Sunday was half the size and didn’t have any cheese. Got a few measly little meatballs, maybe an inch thick inside, if that.

Wish I’d looked inside and compared to your photo @Chowseeker1999 before taking it home (it did travel well, however).