Pop Culture: 6 Fancy Pop Tarts to Try Now

The beloved breakfast treat gets sweet and savory makeovers from L.A. chefs

With fifty years on the marketplace, Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts have carved a special place in people’s hearts. The brand even has a cache of swag for true believers, selling hoodies, picture frames, and laptop cases stamped with the brand’s iconic imagery. Luckily for nostalgic Angelenos, the simple dessert has been showing up on menus around the city in ways both faithful to the original and completely different. Here are a few of our favorites.

Nickel Diner
Just what is the allure of the pop tart? As Monica May, chef and co-owner of Nickel Diner puts it, “I’m creating a better version of my childhood.” Fun and amped up with supremely fresh, farmers’ market ingredients, like seasonal fruit, the treats at Nickel are, from pastry to jam, made completely from scratch. Currently on the menu are strawberry, blueberry-meyer-lemon, and chocolate-banana garnished with candied peanuts. “In the summer we feature all stone fruit, and in winter offer spiced pumpkin with chocolate, and apple with bourbon-brown-sugar glaze. The strawberry, though, remains everyone’s favorite,” says May.
http://cdn2.lamag.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2013/09/arrow27.pngNickel Diner, 524 S. Main St., Los Angeles 213-623-8201

French and elegant, Republique does not immediately strike one as a place fit for pop tarts. Look closer, however, and a certain whimsy comes through in offerings like crispy pork rinds “chips and dip.” Also playful, the restaurant’s version of the breakfast treat is flaky (you’ll definitely need a napkin!) and filled with date puree and large chunks of bacon. Umami comes through the sweet and savory flavors with the sugar sprinkled on top providing a nice crunch. Grab one with a hot cup of coffee to ensure a delightful morning.
http://cdn2.lamag.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2013/09/arrow27.pngRepublique, 624 S. La Brea, Los Angeles, 310-362-6115

Fred 62
The Los Feliz spot keeps it simple with pop tarts that play on nostalgia. The strawberry, blueberry, and apple-cinnamon versions come large enough to share, although you are free to resist anyone who wants a bite. The shell is crumbly, a bit like pie crust, and as this modern diner is open 24 hours, you can chow on the treats for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even a midnight snack. There is also a pineapple version—try it with a banana shake.
http://cdn2.lamag.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2013/09/arrow27.pngFred 62, 1850 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, 323-667-0062

Barton G
There’s something a bit subversive about stuffing glamorous ingredients like lobster and Gruyere cheese into the pocket of the humble pop tart, but Barton G doesn’t let high/low snobbery get in the way of a good time. In fact, this tongue-in-cheek restaurant revels in it. The buttery phyllo dough cuddles the shellfish like a duvet, and the blanket of mornay sauce ups the comfort factor. The dipping duo of Tabasco hollandaise and tarragon aioli on the side brings a little heat to the party.
http://cdn2.lamag.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2013/09/arrow27.pngBarton G 861 N. La Cienega, Los Angeles, 310-388-1888

Dia de Campo & Abigail
One of the South Bay’s most important culinary voices chef Tin Vuong has a dedication to pop tarts that cannot be understated. Two of his Redondo Beach restaurants, Abigaile and Dia de Campo, while completely different—the former is globally inspired while the latter can be described as nuevo Mexican—celebrate the beloved pocket of dough.

“It’s a fun and unique way to incorporate handheld food items to the menu, and they’re insanely delicious,” says Vuong.  “While puff pastry isn’t exactly among the first things that come to mind when you think of Vietnamese cuisine, like the baguette and coffee, we’ve taken these items initially introduced by the French and given them a Vietnamese makeover.”

For those who like their pop tarts sweet, Dia de Campo’s mango pop tart, with spiced honey yogurt on the side, will provide just enough exoticism while still stoking your nostalgia. Large enough to share, this buttery treat is filled with puree and chunks of mango then topped with chopped pecans and brown sugar. The creamy dipping sauce is not too sweet, making it a perfect accompaniment to the dessert.

Over at Abigaile, the P.I.G. pop tart is a savory mix of bacon, Gruyere cheese, and smoked pork confit with a yummy tomato jam on the side. Rich and perhaps capable of taking down the almighty breakfast burrito, Abigaile’s version is instantly addictive, urging bite after delicious bite. Pair it with the Callahan cocktail, a play on the Old Fashioned with a mix of house-infused cinnamon, anise and raisin whiskey, black walnut and orange. Aren’t you glad you’re a grownup?
http://cdn2.lamag.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2013/09/arrow27.pngDia de Campo 1238 Hermosa Ave., Hermosa Beach, 310-379-1829
http://cdn2.lamag.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2013/09/arrow27.pngAbigaile, 1301 Manhattan Ave., Hermosa Beach, 310-798-8227