In a city where you can get a great cup of coffee 'round the clock, why is it that finding a decent dessert place seems

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Top 5 Places for Dessert

In a city where you can get a great cup of coffee 'round the clock, why is it that finding a decent dessert place seems to require a G.P.S and a treasure map? We're not talking about the cutesy storefronts laden with cupcakes and ice cream, but the type of sugar parlors where you can stop in after dinner for a sophisticated sweet treat; the type of place where you're not banished to the dark corners of the bar to consume your confections; the type of place that serves dessert until at least midnight. You know, a proper nightcap destination.

With that said, and with an insatiable sweet tooth as our guide, we found the Top 5 dessert places in Seattle that would make Willy Wonka's pancreas sigh with delight.

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Le Pichet's chocolat chaud
5. Le Pichet (left)

1933 First Ave., 256-1499

Not only is Le Pichet uber romantic and cozy year round, but there's something deliciously cliché about popping into this charming Francophile haunt on a cold winter night for a caramel pecan tart or a decadent cup of chocolat chaud. A chalkboard showcases a selection of half-a-dozen daily specials - each for only $6! On a recent Saturday night, there were several empty tables at 11 p.m. which still gave us plenty of time to induce a sturdy sugar coma before Le Pichet's midnight closing.

4. Sambar, 425 N.W. Market St., 781-4883

Who knew this tiny Ballard bar had fawn-worthy cocktails and dessert? It makes sense, seeing as how Le Gourmand is on the other side of the wall, but we weren't expecting to be handed the entire Le Gourmand dessert menu. The extensive list includes everything from seasonal fruit crepes to chocolate mousse with single-estate chocolate from Valrhona. One of our favorites is the hazelnut soufflé that comes with a little pitcher of warm chocolate to pour on top. Oh, and a chocolate truffle that has the texture of a dense brownie. Desserts aren't cheap (they peak at $14), but hey, consider it the price of admission if you're lucky enough to score a table at this popular drinking hole.

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Mistral Kitchen's Ultra Brownie
3. Mistral Kitchen (right)

2020 Westlake Ave., 623-1922

When we heard ex-Canlis pastry chef Neil Robertson was now at this new downtown culinary funhouse, we knew we had to stop by and sample some of his (more affordable) creations. An order for his highly recommended coconut tres leches cake with mango sorbet was soon followed by the pineapple-maple baba with bacon ice cream and the ultra brownie with caramel-espresso ice cream. Neil's menu features about six thoughtfully crafted desserts, each for $9. The portions are small -- perfect for an after dinner treat. But the real treat is snagging one of the three seats at the pastry station where you can watch barside as Neil plates your desserts. Plus, he's a super cool guy to talk to.

2. Tavolata, 2323 Second Ave., 838-8008

Ethan Stowell recently hired himself a pastry chef to tend to all four of his restaurants. But Tavolata gets the dessert prize for its zeppole which now comes with a side of chocolate dipping sauce that's good enough to eat on its own. Not only are the lemony donuts light and airy, you can scarf down about two dozen for only $7. The donuts aren't going anywhere anytime soon, but if you're not too late, the seasonal bread pudding with cinnamon gelato and pumpkin chocolate tart with bay leaf crème anglaise are also worth a try.

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Poppy's sweet thali
1. Poppy (left)

622 Broadway E., 324-1108

Words can't describe the pure bliss of eating one of Dana Cree's desserts. At Poppy, you can order them ala carte for $8 a pop, but we highly recommend ordering the dessert thali. For $15, you get to choose one of five main dessert courses and an ice cream to compliment an array of sweet bites, like nutter-butter squares and ginger chip cookies. If you see chocolate chip licorice ice cream on the menu, order it. Just do it. The dessert thalis are made to share, but who are you kidding? You can easily polish one off by yourself.

 
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