Ah, the Tenderloin, it's the new hot neighborhood for restaurants and gentrification--though I'm just passing through to cover the food. A handful of the places opening are quite affordable, which means they are at least taking the hood into consideration. But, beyond the new places, are a fair number of spots that have been kicking around the 'Loin for some time and they are serving up tasty delights. One such spot is a dessert place I tried when it first opened 5 years ago (before I started this blog) and figured enough time had passed I should try it again. It's called Hooker's Sweet Treats, a name that is both seemingly unfortunate and highly fitting for the neighborhood (I'm not going to give a history of the Tenderloin here--better just to Google it while you are enjoying the treats).
That's not a knock, just an observation, and let's face it, the name is memorable (and the moniker of the proprietor to boot). It still fits into my hole in the wall theme I've got running recently. It's a small cute place on Hyde Street full of dark wood and warm colors to make it feel comforting and homey. This will come in handy once you have their sweets. The specialty that got this place noticed initially are the caramels. They offer a handful of flavor combos but the base on them all is a salty buttery caramel that is both creamy, chewy and doesn't stick to your teeth. Seriously, how often do you find that? They have about 7 or 8 flavor choices that all run $2 a pop and considering the size and hand made-ness of them all, it's pretty worth it. I was in a crunchy salty mood and went with the Party Girl Caramel.
See? It's a biggun'! Toasted almonds, coconut, rice cereal, pretzel bits on caramel atop a sea salted dark chocolate base. That's a mouthful and so is this hunk of what I'm gonna call a dessert bar instead of candy--it's more than that. Salty sweet is my dessert pleasure point and this fires on all cylinders. Crunchy, salty, buttery, chocolatey, creamy, did I say buttery? Yeah, it's all that and more than just a couple bites here. It was a piece of caramel to sit for savoring and enjoying. The other flavors available also looked tasty but these buttery delights were not my only reason for visiting. Beyond the caramels Hooker's has another dessert that has also gotten notice for very good reason--bread pudding--this is what dessert is all about.
The day's flavor was cinnamon raisin bread pudding with toasted pecans swimming in a bourbon caramel sauce. (Plus it gets served in this lovely dish--like something grandma made) For $6 this is a whopping piece of sweetness and bigger than many desserts I've had in this town. This was spongy, cinnamon-ny yumminess. It was like slipping into a warm comforting bowl of down home goodness. Is it sweet? Yes, it could be overwhelming to some, for me, I finished it all-duh. The sauce was a great addition with it's tangy bourbon butteriness (is that a word?) and there was enough to soak through the whole dish. The pecans on top were a nice touch to add some crunch and texture--plus I'm a fan of pecans. The whole dish was one of the best desserts I've had in this town and I didn't have to scramble to make a reservation, wait in line or for a seat or pay exorbitant prices.
It's these kinds of special things that make tiny spots like this in town local faves. They offer up off the beaten track treats worth seeking out and trying. The buttery caramels and home made bread pudding goodness are a sugar shock to the system in a tasty and comforting way that can put a smile on anyones face and warmth in your belly. You don't have to try it alone either, take a friend, they give more than enough to share--you'll be glad you did. And what's better than sharing dessert? Okay, having it all to yourself, or maybe that's just me, whatever.