Christina Tosi’s Biggest Milk Bar Opens in L.A.
“L.A.’s been one of my favorite places to come just in general, because it’s so similar to New York and is a busy first-tier city but also so different,” Tosi says. “That’s so compelling to me. It’s got a different grit than New York.”
Powered by her love for Los Angeles, Tosi has exclusive-to-L.A. items like chorizo-and-egg pastries and elote cornbread. Making the cornbread, which is obviously influenced by L.A. street corn and happens to be gluten-free, is a natural progression for Tosi, who already bakes a popular corn cookie.
“You’ve seen me running through a cornfield in Chef’s Table,” she says. “That’s truly part of my makeup.”
Tosi and her kitchen staff, some of whom are local, have been eating around L.A. for the past few years as she’s thought about how this Milk Bar should be different than others. But, as always, Milk Bar is about expressing “who we are through the food we’ve been obsessing over,” she says.
There’s an exclusive-to-L.A. dairy-free treat that Milk Bar is calling Pineapple Fo’ Sho Whip, which is pineapple-lime soft-serve inspired by the Dole Whip that people flip out for at Disneyland. Milk Bar’s Ritzy Business dessert is a buttery cracker cone filled with Pineapple Fo’ Sho Whip (or cereal milk soft-serve, or a twist with both flavors, if you prefer) and layered with strawberry sauce, crunchy cracker bits, and freeze-dried strawberries.
Some new, exclusive-to-L.A. savory pastries are inspired by New York City (where Milk Bar was born in 2008) and filled with pepperoni or pastrami. But Tosi, a chef who understands where she is, is using pastrami from L.A. deli institution Langer’s for her pastrami-and-rye bomb.
The new 4,000-square-foot Milk Bar is Tosi’s biggest outpost to date. She likes that it’s in a strip mall, on the site of what used to be a laundromat and a Baskin-Robbins. She prefers this over a shiny new building. This Milk Bar, which includes a classroom, is a place where you’re welcome to make a mess.
“I like textures,” Tosi says. “I like layers. I like the imperfection of the human spirit, and I like that you find a different version of that in L.A. than you do in New York. That has a lot to do with why we chose this location.”
Milk Bar’s L.A. classroom (Tosi will be there to lead a birthday-cake-and-truffles class from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday) has windows that open up to a commissary kitchen and R&D lab, so visitors can see how the compost cookies and the confetti cookies are made and also perhaps get a glimpse at some new items Milk Bar is developing.
Tosi wants Milk Bar’s opening day to feel like a party, so she’ll offer cake tastings, crafts, and a chance to win a spot in a dessert class. Selling cereal milk soft-serve for $1 on Saturday should also get guests in a festive mood. For Tosi, this isn’t just about opening her first L.A. store or her 15th outpost of Milk Bar. It’s about planting a flagship where she and her team can interact with customers and get immediate feedback on new flavor combinations. It’s about having a West Coast hub where she can fulfill online orders as her e-commerce business continues to grow.
L.A.’s Milk Bar is a lot of things all at once, and that’s the point. This Milk Bar is a bakery and coffee shop where you can bring your family and hang out, or you can just preorder some treats and pick them up at the takeout window if you’re in a rush. You can come here to learn about dessert-making, or you can hire Milk Bar to cater your parties. Beyond her brick-and-mortar location in the middle of L.A., Tosi is also debuting her Milk Bar Ice Cream Truck, which can be booked for events.
Milk Bar, 7150 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, 323-297-3250