3321 Hyland Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
I should really head over to South Coast Collection way more than I do. It seems like every two weeks they are opening a new foodie destination that I add to my every growing list of restaurants to hit up. Right now languishing on my, "must go to" list is Taco Maria, Shuck Oyster Bar, Arc, and the Iron Press. We will definitely hit these places up soon.
I was bummed to hear that one of the places we have actually been to at SOCO is no more. We liked Christopher Garren's Bakery when we were here early last year, but they shuttered their storefront on December 31st. I had wondered what happened to their old space, and had heard that a new bakery was opening up shop there, Susie Cakes.
Susie Cakes recently opened up their second OC location, with more in the work for sure. We heard about a Laguna Niguel spot, but did not get a date or an exact location, so keep an eye out for that. Susie Cakes has numerous Northern California outposts, and have begun a conquest of Southern California recently.
Susie Cakes comes to us from Susan Sarich, who grew up in Chicago, where she came home from school everyday to her grandmothers baked treats. It is these handwritten recipes which accompanied Susan to the West Coast, where she wanted to share all these fantastic baked goods with all of us. Their philosophy at Susie Cakes is that they don't bake with anything they can't spell. They don't use mixes, artificial preservatives, or high fructose corn syrups. This scratch bakery also uses only the highest quality ingredients they can find.
We arrived at the Susie Cakes Bakery during their grand opening celebration. There was definitely a carnival atmosphere going on here. Face painting, pictures in a classic Ford Mustang, and of course, sweets. The bakery was packed with people getting a large assortment of baked goods. My favorite feature of the space is the open kitchen, which allows you to see that this really is a scratch bakery. I could have sat there and watched the workers bake all day, but we had some big decisions to make at the bustling counter.
As you can see from the pictures, I was a little trigger happy with my camera, as all the baked goods were pretty photogenic. Behind the case at Susie Cakes were plenty of varieties of cookies, cakes, pies, bars, and their famous cupcakes. This was going to be tough to just pick a few things to come home with. After much consideration we made our selections, and were on our way home to enjoy our haul.
I can usually judge a bakery by what kind of cookies they make, and after eating this Chocolate Chip Cookie ($2), I had a pretty good feeling about Susie Cakes. I'm always partial to cookies that are crunchy on the outside, and softer in the middle. This cookie had passed that test, and I liked that there were plenty of chocolate chips in this cookie as well. Probably one of the most homemade tasting cookies I have had from a bakery. Really tasty.
I had read on Yelp that Susie Cakes is known for their 7 Layer Bars ($3), so that was a definite must try on this afternoon. I'm a big fan of Eagle Brand's Magic Bar recipe, and these were just as good. A mixture of butterscotch, coconut, chocolate chips, nuts, and who knows what else, combined to make these just as good as any Magic Bar I have had.
Carrot Cake ($6.25) is one of the most polarizing desserts out there, but you can count me as being one of its biggest fans. This version at Susie Cakes was good, but not the best I have had. Their frosting is what made this cake for me. Not overly big on the cream cheese, this was more of a sweeter icing than most carrot cakes use normally. The cake portion of this is where I have to dock points. It was moist, but I expected a little more cinnamon used here, and there were some big hunks of nuts in the batter. I also would have liked a little more icing used in between the layers. Still a good slice of cake though.
The last thing we tried on this afternoon was this Apple Cider Cupcake ($3.25). This seasonal cupcake came highly recommended from our guy behind the counter, and he was not just blowing smoke. It had a very good apple flavor to it, the cake portion was moist, but the best part for me was the icing again. With just the right amount of sweetness, it pushed this cupcake to another level. Really tasty, and much better than a lot of the specialty cupcakes I have had.
I was really sad to hear of Christopher Garren's closing, but I'm more than happy that Susie Cakes has taken over their spot. Everything really did taste homemade here, and I am surprised that it was as affordable as it is. You can definitely add Susie Cakes to the many reasons to come to SOCO. We can't wait to come back.
Out of five typewriters, (because whenever I hear the name Susie, I think of the TV series Private Secretary, with Ann Sothern, who played a character named Susie), five being best to zero being worst, Susie Cakes gets 3 typewriters.
For more information about Susie Cakes, go to their website here: https://www.susiecakes.com/