Sugar Rush: Pain Au Chocolat at Estelle's Patisserie in Sacramento, CA

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[Photographs: Erin Jackson]

In my mind, traveling and treats go hand in hand. So when left to my own devices on a recent trip to downtown Sacramento, my first mission was to hunt down a great bakery, preferably one with decent coffee. I found both almost immediately at Estelle's Patisserie. Inside, the French-style bakery and espresso bar oozes cozy warmth, while outside, you get a sprinkling of local color as people congregate around the trolley line.

The display case holds a knee-buckling assortment of tempting French pastries, including macarons, madeleines, tarts, and cakes sold by the slice. But when confronted with so many options, I go with a more dependable pastry: pain au chocolat.

Estelle's version ($2.95) is delicious. The pastry is flaky, yet simultaneously soft and moist, with a sweet and mellow buttery undertone. Inside, there's a stripe of smooth milk chocolate, and a darker, richer-tasting drizzle on top. It's sweet, but light enough that pairing it with a sugary latte, made with beans from local roaster Temple Coffee, is totally reasonable. And while it looks large enough to share, you're going to want the whole thing for yourself. I tried saving some for later, and even that didn't work out.

Estelle's Patisserie

901 K. Street, Sacramento, CA 95814 (map); 916-551-1500; estellespatisserie.com