Food & Drink

8 iconic SLO County desserts

Satisfy your sweet tooth with some of SLO County’s best-loved desserts.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with some of SLO County’s best-loved desserts.

What’s life without dessert? Not very delicious, that’s what. San Luis Obispo County offers many ways to get a sugar fix, but there are some sweet treats that are a must try for anyone living in or visiting the area. We’ve picked eight of what we consider the most well-known desserts around. How many of these iconic desserts have you tried? And if you’ve got a suggestion for something else that should be on the list, let us know at

Pink champagne cake | Madonna Inn

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Pink champagne cake from the Madonna Inn. David Middlecamp The Tribune

100 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo | Prices vary

One of the most iconic desserts in SLO County comes from one of the area’s most iconic landmarks. The pink champagne cake from The Madonna Inn consists of layers of white cake separated by lush layers of thick Bavarian cream. The whipped cream icing is covered in bright pink chocolate bits, and the cake is topped with large pink chocolate curls. The inn’s bakery also creates several other notable cakes, including the chocolate curl-topped black forest cake, the almond-covered banana nut cake and a toffee crunch cake.

Olallieberry pie | Linn’s of Cambria

A1 Linns080 8-23
Nick Lucero Tribune

2277 Main St., Cambria | Other various locations | Prices vary

Olallieberry and Linn’s go together like, well, pie and ice cream. The olallieberry is a cross between a bunch of different berries, and Linn’s, a longtime Cambria eatery, is known for using the fruit in a variety of products, including preserves, syrup, grilling sauce and tea. But a must for anyone who spends time on the Central Coast must try the olallieberry pie — preferably with a scoop of a vanilla ice cream.

Brown butter cookies | Brown Butter Cookie Co.

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Brown Butter Cookie Co.’s signature treats come in a variety of flavors. David Middlecamp

98 N. Ocean Ave., Cayucos | Prices vary

These little shortbread cookies have gained quite a loyal following since sisters Christa Hozie and Traci Nickson began baking them full time from their Cayucos shop in 2009. The sweet and salty treats come in a variety of flavors, including original, cocoa, espresso, citrus, almond, cocoa mint and lemon poppy seed. They sell like hotcakes out of their Cayucos and Paso Robles stores, as well as online.

Doughnuts | SLO Donut Co.

slo donut
Doughnuts from SLO Donut Co. in San Luis Obispo The Tribune

793 Foothill Blvd., San Luis Obispo; 6917 El Camino Real, Atascadero | Prices vary

Sure, doughnuts aren’t just a SLO County thing. But these doughnuts are. Nutella pillows, chocolate chip-filled with maple frosting, donut-covered (yes, a donut-covered donut), Oreo-topped, peanut butter pillow, sweet azuki bean paste … drool. The shop is open 24/7, which means fresh, delicious doughnuts anytime you want.

Ice cream sandwiches | Batch

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At Batch, you can build your own ice cream sandwich with your choice of cookies, ice cream and sprinkles. David Middlecamp

1108 Broad St., San Luis Obispo | Prices vary

There are cookies. There’s ice cream. But it’s not often you find a place specializing in cookie and ice cream sandwiches. And you choose the flavors. Peanut butter cookie with chocolate ice cream? Fudge cookies with mint chip? So many choices! The soft, chewy cookies taste like they were made in your mom’s kitchen, and the premium ice cream is made locally.

Cinnamon roll | Old West Cinnamon Rolls

oldwest cinnamon
Joe Johnston

861 Dolliver St., Pismo Beach | Prices vary

Ooey, gooey and deliciously chewy. There are many bakeries in SLO County that serve cinnamon rolls, but Old West is something of an institution. Long lines are often found at the Pismo Beach storefront, as well as Old West’s booth at the California Mid-State Fair each summer. Eat them plain or add a great big dollop of cream cheese frosting.

Ice cream | Doc Burnstein’s

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A scoop of Doc Burnstein’s Birthday Cake ice cream on a sugar cone. Joe Johnston

114 W. Branch St, Arroyo Grande | 860 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo | Prices vary

If extra creamy, locally-made ice cream sounds delicious, look no further than Doc Burnstein’s. This “super premium” (minimum 16 percent butterfat) is made right in SLO County. The Merlot raspberry truffle is even made with local wine. Other delicious flavors include sea salt caramel, Mexican chocolate, Elvis special and “motor oil” (dark chocolate with fudge and Kahlua). Luckily this ice cream can be found around SLO County, including its own stores in Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo, as well as shops in several other Central Coast towns.

Cookies | Cowboy Cookies

Cowboy Cookie

778 Higuera St. #A, San Luis Obispo | Prices vary

Perhaps you big city folks would like to know where to get the rootinest, tootinest cookie in the wild, wild west? Well, pardner, that’d be Cowboy Cookies in downtown SLO. There’s the cowchip (chocolate chip), outlaw (chocolate chocolate chip), spotter critter (peanut butter chocolate chip), the wrangler (oatmeal coconut rice krispie) and several others. These cowboy-sized, chewy cookies are sure to satisfy the sweet tooth of even the toughest cowboys.