Once a humble, orange gourd best known for adorning dining room tables and decorating doorsteps, pumpkin has become a divisive element of the fall culinary landscape. Each year, pumpkin in all forms appears in coffee shops, grocery stores, and restaurants across the country, to the delight of some and exhaustion of others. We’re taking a stance, though, however controversial: we love pumpkin. Whether it be the ubiquitous pumpkin spice latte, a creamy, comforting bowl of soup, or a hot-from-the-oven bread, we’re all in. However, pumpkin desserts reign supreme in our diets. From tiramisu to fritters to the most distinctly autumn ice cream sandwich, check out how chefs from around the country do justice to our favorite fall flavors.
Ginger Snap Cookie and Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwich, CBD Provisions, Dallas, Texas
This modern-yet-inviting brasserie in the heart of downtown Dallas is open all day, but make sure to stop in for lunch or dinner for a taste of fall on a plate. Executive pastry chef Keith Cedotal combined two of the season’s best, most quintessential flavors in his Gingersnap Cookie Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwich with housemade cookies and a coating of pumpkin seeds for a little added texture. If we could dole these out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween, we’d officially be the most popular house on the block. Make a reservation at CBD Provisions.
Pumpkin Spice Gelato, Alla Spina, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Among the many reasons to love chef Marc Vetri’s Italian gastropub is the extensive beer selection (including the Victory Verde, a saison made exclusively for the Vetri family restaurants,) the comforting yet impressive, pork-centric menu, and, not least, the soft serve gelato. Flavors change seasonally, but this fall enjoy a Pumpkin Spice swirl in a cup, on a cone, or, for a little pick me up, an affogato with a shot of espresso. Make a reservation at Alla Spina.
Pumpkin Basque Cake, The Bristol, Chicago, Illinois
Renowned chef Grant Achatz has called the Basque cake at this beloved American restaurant in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood one of his favorite desserts in the city. A staple on the menu, pastry chef Amanda Rockman has given the cake an autumn spin, adding pumpkin marmalade — made from scratch by cooking a mixture of small diced pumpkin tossed in maple sugar and lemon zest — and a garnish of candied sage, spiced pumpkin seeds, and maple chantilly to the classic Spanish dessert. “If you can find them, the best pumpkin for marmalade that I have found is called a Long Island Cheese Squash,” asserts Chef Rockman. “Odd name, but great pumpkin.” Make a reservation at The Bristol.
Tiramisu’ Alla Zucca, Lago, Las Vegas, Nevada
At this stylish spot in the Bellagio, get a front row seat to the resort’s famous fountain show while enjoying plates like crudo, small pizzas, and focaccia. And for those celebrating Thanksgiving in town, don’t miss the seasonal spin on the traditional Italian dessert. Tiramusu’ Alla Zucca layers pumpkin mascarpone mousse onto espresso-soaked lady fingers in an indulgent, impressive — and appropriately Vegas — presentation. Make a reservation at Lago.
Pumpkin Cake in a Box, BOA Steakhouse, Santa Monica, California
The classic steakhouse gets an L.A. twist at this perpetually buzzing Santa Monica hot spot. After treating yourself to a juicy steak — the 40-day, dry-aged New York Strip or bone-in Kansas City filet mignon are among the many menu heavy-hitters — the Cake in a Box is an apt ending. With moist, spiced pumpkin cake, vanilla cream cheese icing, anisette cream, and candied pecans, the “box” aspect of this dessert means taking it to go is just as easy as diving in on site. Make a reservation at BOA Steakhouse.
Baked Pumpkin Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts, Taste on Melrose, West Hollywood, California
Paired with a hot coffee at brunch or saved for dessert at lunch or dinnertime, the Baked Pumpkin Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut — made with a soft pumpkin brioche, drenched in butter, and covered in cinnamon and sugar — makes for a perfectly autumn indulgence at this warm little neighborhood spot. Or, opt for the spicy Pumpkin Crumb Cake, topped with an almond nutmeg crumb layer. With ample outdoor seating for L.A.’s 364 days of sunshine, enjoy either one of executive pastry chef Katie Shyne’s house-baked creations and win fall. Make a reservation at Taste on Melrose.