Los Angeles is home to numerous dessert shops that feature a range of treats from cupcakes to doughnuts to shakes. Urban Confections will select dessert restaurants whose only West Coast location is Los Angeles, highlighting students’ opportunities to taste the city’s distinctive flavors. Follow columnist Lindsay Weinberg around Los Angeles as she samples local confections and suggests how students can take advantage of these iconic desserts.
It’s not often that fried dough, cheese and guava go well together. However, two miles south of UCLA, Churros Calientes serves just that – one churro grande stuffed with cream cheese and topped with tangy guava sauce for $6.60.
The price is steep for just one churro, but it is truly a special combination of Spanish flavors in Los Angeles. The crispy-yet-chewy dough encircles a sweet-yet-savory cheese center with a scarlet drizzle of guava sauce on top, almost like a dessert rendition of stuffed manicotti pasta.
I noticed the homemade guava puree was syrupy like fruit jam as it was dribbled across the churro and decorated the dish with bright dots. The guava, which I’ve only tasted before in Hawaii, reminded me of tropical islands with ripe fruits aplenty.
Churros Calientes is recognized for Venezuelan and Spanish churros, which are typically airy and crunchy; however, modern churros have evolved to include Mexico-grown guavas, merging cultures’ specialties. I had heard this trio of creative tastes was the highlight of Churros Calientes, and I was not disappointed by its fresh and organic confection.
The scent of these churros wafted through the air along with sounds of authentic Mexican folk music, as a television projected a concert to set the mood. Blue wicker-style chairs filled the cozy shop and poured out onto the sidewalk to accompany small tables with umbrellas like a European cafe.
After enjoying the somewhat difficult to cut guava churro, I was compelled to order a classic: churros con chocolat for $7.85. A spiraled metal basket held five thin, crispy churros the size of a dime in diameter; a teacup brimming with thick creamy chocolate was delivered next to the fried pastries.
Although the churros were pleasantly crunchy when plain, dusting my fingers with sugar as I ate them, they functioned best as a vehicle for the rich chocolate. Made from cocoa, the sauce was thicker than hot chocolate yet thinner than chocolate pudding. Using a churro to scrape off the fine layer of film that had formed on the surface of the cup of chocolate, I tried to pile as much chocolate as possible into the churro’s indented channels.
This satisfied any craving for chocolate in traditional churro fashion, but overall I would advise food adventurists to experiment with the guava cream cheese churro. Despite the surprising combo of fruit, cheese and dough, the flavors do not clash.
While the restaurant offers soups, salads and Bocadillos – described as Spanish paninis – Churros Calientes’ name implies its true strength. I’d hoped to try one of its coffees, like the cortado leche y leche or chocolate latte with a music note design on the foam, but paying about $17 for six churros seemed a high enough price calorically and monetarily. I found Churros Calientes to be welcoming, though pricey, and a genuine cultural experience with innovative flavors.
– Lindsay Weinberg
What toppings go best with this fried creation? Email Weinberg at [email protected]