Dear Mr. Gold:
I'm looking for a bakery/café downtown, or better, in Boyle Heights, that's open late and reasonably priced. It should be a good, festive place for a group of friends to talk after a play.
Bakeries are easy. Late night is easy. But the combination, I have to admit — I'm slightly stumped. (I'm also almost certain that you're going to end up drinking wine at Eastside Luv instead, but that's okay too.) What you want is probably something like the great coffeehouse Tierra Mia, which is unfortunately in South Gate, or Homegirl Café, on the fringe of Chinatown, which closes at 5. If what you want is a slightly groovy bakery still open at 11, you could try La Mill, which has amazing coffee although the made dishes tend to be better than the baked goods, or Lark, which is cute, both in Silver Lake.
I'm a huge fan of Nickel Diner, more an evolved diner than a bakery, but with wonderful baked goods — not just the justly famed maple-bacon doughnuts, but red-velvet cake, a weirdly delicious peanut-butter cake topped with crumbled potato chips and a smores cake that they blast into submission tableside with a blowtorch. A more traditional choice is Blu LA Café, just around the corner from the Nickel, which is a nice, quiet place to eat late-night dessert — it's open until 2 a.m. on weekends. And if you should decide that cakes and French-press coffee aren't exactly what you want, it's just next door to Cole's French-dip sandwiches and the Varnish's perfected cocktails.
Blu LA Café: 126 E. Sixth St., downtown., (213) 488-2088 or www.blu.la.