What would Henry Huntington think of the newest tenant to occupy one of the storefronts in his Pacific Electric Building? Manhattan-based Babycakes opened shop on the 6th Street side of the 1905 landmark this past Sunday near Cole's. The menu of vegan and food allergy-sensitive baked treats are hardly the staples of turn-of-the-century robber baron diets, and yet taste so good you won't even know they're animal product and/or soy-, gluten-, etc-free. (Although the prices clearly fall into the specialized niche product territory.)
Agave sweetened cupcakes, cookies, brownies, loaves, and macaroons have moved light years beyond the era of oats and carob, and are served in a space that's been curated by someone with a knack for assembling miscellany, a love of flea markets, and a sizable collection of Domino back issues (RIP). Plus there's coffee made with Portland's Stumptown beans.
Back when Lower East Side-dwelling babycakers selected the historic core of Downtown over Beverly Blvd. near Fairfax for their first L.A. store, some eyebrows were raised. But so far, this business is buzzing while staying true to Huntington's approach to creating his dynasty of sprawling streetcar lines and far-flung real estate subdivisions: build it and they will come. The opening is also fortuitously timed vis-à-vis new year's resolution diets; you can have your (vegan) cake and eat it, too.
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Babycakes: 130 East 6th Street, Downtown; (213) 623-5555.