Whereas most cupcakeries are located in hip neighborhoods with heavy foot traffic, Polkatots is tucked away in a deserted mini-mall across the way from a botánica. In spite of its unlikely location, Polkatots has found an audience and a great deal of success. Most notably, the cupcakery won two first-place prizes at the 2009 Cupcake Challenge—the Dolcissimo cupcake took Best Original and Best Overall at the competition.
For the longest time I thought the shop was named Polkadots. It wasn’t until I snapped the picture above that I realized it wasn’t the case at all. I’m quite used to establishments with nonsensical and awkward names in the San Gabriel Valley (See: Ducks, Mama’s Lu, JTYH, and Qing Dao Bread Food), but it’s a rare occurrence when it happens in Pasadena. What the heck is a “polkatot”?
Anyway, as is tradition with cupcakeries across the land, Polkatots is dolled up in pretty pink tones with colorful candy accents. There are fourteen standard flavors available each day and a featured flavor of the month. Regular-sized cupcakes, also known as “Biggies,” are priced at $3, while “Minis” go for $1.50.
With an extra pair of chompers in tow, I was able to sample four flavors, including (clockwise from top left) the Lucky Charm, Red Diva, Strawberry Shortcake, and Dolcissimo. Each cleverly named mini-cupcake was meticulously decorated and provided 3.7 bites of joy.
The Lucky Charm (pistachio cupcake with pistachio buttercream) successfully captured a pistachio ice cream experience, minus the chill factor. The Red Diva (red velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing) was appealingly chocolaty, but the crunchy sprinkles detracted from the icing’s tang. The Strawberry Shortcake (strawberry cupcake with strawberry buttercream) was a favorite of mine because it tasted like real strawberries were employed in the cake and batter. However, I could have done without the coarse red sprinkles. The Dolcissimo (dulce de leche cake with dulce de leche buttercream) was sticky and sweet, just the way dulce de leche ought to be.
In regards to texture, Polkatot’s cake was moist and dense, with just a wee bit of gumminess. The frostings stayed true to their flavor and weren’t overwhelmed by sugary sweetness. Overall, Polkatot’s straddles the fine line between in-the-box and out-of-the-box cupcake experiences.
720 North Lake Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91104