Café Dulce’s original location in Downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo neighborhood has become a destination cafe and bakery. Located in the middle of an outdoor mall with restaurants, a market, and gift and food shops, the shop is known for its coffee, milk teas, ande delicious housemade treats like their green tea donuts and Korean cheesesteak sandwiches. Recently, Cafe Dulce has been having a series of pop-ups, culminating in a new second permanent location at Alameda Square near Little Tokyo. The new location at 777 Alameda is also home to a collection of outlet stores and offices from American Apparel, Ella Moss, Splendid, and 7 For all Mankind. We checked in on the first day of the new Cafe Dulce’s soft open to see what the team has in store for this rapidly developing part of Downtown LA.
Cafe Dulce first ventured away from home earlier this year with a pop-up at 11th and Hope, in a building owned by the same people as 777 Alameda. In June, this transitioned into a coffee cart inside the lobby of the newly remodeled 777 Alameda Building, now known as “Building #1” of the Alameda Square property, which is also home to American Apparel’s manufacturing, outlet shop, and flea market project. The Dulce cart was an instant hit amongst the many workers in the building, with a strong group of regulars forming. To serve that interest, Cafe Dulce’s James Choi has now opened a sleek new permanent coffee bar inside Building #1, open to both the public and the many people who work at Alameda Square.
You may remember Cafe Dulce from our recent coverage of their bow-topped Hello Kitty donuts and lattes during Hello Kitty’s Hungry Hunt, part of the Hello Kitty 40th Anniversary Celebration. For Dulce Dos at Alameda Square, Choi is offering the same pastries, sandwiches and salads, prepared at their original Little Tokyo location and ferried a few (not many) blocks over. For coffee, Dulce Dos will be offering Heart Coffee Roasters as espresso, batch-brew and pour-over.
The cafe is appropriately modern and eye-catching for such a location, with a mural painted by Dulce regular Steven Daily and a character wall by illustrator Annie Seo. Hanging above the bar are a beautiful set of vintage orbital speakers that were owned by a tenant of the previous building on the property. Choi had the internals of the speakers reengineered and hung in Dulce Dos for a very Deadmaus/Daft Punk kind of look.
The cafe started its soft open last Friday, to the delight of the old coffee cart’s regulars. Choi and co. are planning a grand opening in January, and as the new location gets going, they hope to use this more spacious and flexible coffee bar as a place to incubate ideas and launch special menus like drink and dessert pairings. Though the new Cafe Dulce is only about a mile from the first location, with the explosion of new shops and offices opening in the Downtown Arts district, Choi is clearly not worried about not enough demand for their delicious coffee (and donuts).
Julie Wolfson is a Sprudge.com desk writer based in Los Angeles. Read more Julie Wolfson on Sprudge.