Excellent | Worth a Detour
Old West Cinnamon Rolls
Review by: Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom
Old West Cinnamon Rolls is one of the most famous cinnamon roll bakeries in the country. This is due to Betty Clemens’s decades of selling on the State Fair circuit. The famous rolls are available at Downtown Disney in Disneyland and at dozens of festivals around the West. But they are at their best in the the home bakery in Pismo Beach, right off of the Pacific Coast Highway.
Betty opened the bakery in 1981 after a decade of baking at local events and fairs. She has since become a culinary preservationist, writing cookbooks about historic Central Coast recipes.
Her plain cinnamon roll is a sticky bun with a gooey caramel sauce soaked into the bread. Variations include several kinds of nuts, raisins, a crumb topping, and a fruit compote finish. Of course, there are icing-topped rolls too. Crucially, Old West cinnamon rolls are iced fresh throughout the day. This means that the icing is a sauce rather than a set sugar coating. It makes them extra sloppy and extra delicious.
Both the rolls and the icing are mouthwatering, but a sweet enough combo to cause sugar-induced delirium. Unless you add sugar to your root beer, consider getting icing on the side. We prefer the original or nut-topped versions, especially the one with slivered almonds. It celebrates California’s signature nut (technically a drupe pit). Every roll has intense flavors of cinnamon, something lesser rolls are missing.
The bakery also has a separate espresso counter. The coffee is unremarkable, but the selection of Torani syrups is one of the most exhaustive that we’ve seen in years.
If you aren’t going to be in Pismo again soon, pick up a pack of dry mix to bake cinnamon rolls at home.
Directions & Hours
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