Best bakeries in Washington, DC
Cupcake cynics don’t stand a chance at Baked and Wired. The Georgetown café serves irresistible “cakecups” in flavors like the Elvis Impersonator (banana cupcake topped with peanut butter frosting and chocolate drizzle) as well as brownies, cookies and muffins. A wall covered with customer-drawn napkin doodles and products like “Hippie Crack” granola add to the charm.
On the walls of this Georgetown bakery are signs that read “Baking a difference.” That’s because the sugar shop not only employs wounded veterans, it also puts them through a six-month education program with Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. The soldiers masterfully prepare confections like muffins made with local honey and sweet and savory scones with the help of a trained culinary team.
From legendary baker Mark Furstenberg—the founder of Marvelous Market and BreadLine—comes this sunny café and bakery in Van Ness. You’d never suspect that the sweet spot, wedged between a barbershop and a Burger King, was cranking out Paris-worthy croissants, top-notch baguettes and Montreal-style bagels (which are more compact and smaller than their New York cousins).
Buzz Bakery may be best known for its cupcakes (including the Cookie Monster, made with chocolate chip cookie cake, raw cookie dough, Oreos and oatmeal cream pie), but you shouldn’t overlook the red velvet brownies, turtle cheesecake and gourmet rice crispy treats. Two additional locations (in Alexandria and Ballston) make getting your sugar fix as easy as pie.
This family-run bakery is helmed by a chef who spent more than 20 years learning how to bake bread in France. Translation: Order the croissants, which are some of the best in DC. Like its offerings, Le Caprice’s interior is retro-leaning, with baguettes stuffed in wicker baskets and classic glass display cases filled with tarts, ornate cakes and crispy cookies.
Pastry chef Rebekka Baltzell’s cakes are worth the Metro ride to Old Town. In particular, a slice of the Big Ass Chocolate Cake with a glass of milk, which will take you right back to childhood. Enjoy it in the café portion of the food emporium, then shop the more age-appropriate collection of house-made cocktail mixers.
This Penn Quarter newcomer, from the same owners as the adjoining Red Velvet Cupcakery, specializes in European-style pastries. Chef Lindsay Meehan whips up creations like Danish topped with blueberry compote and slices of butterkuchen—a thin German sheet cake stuffed with pastry cream. Lunchtime brings sandwiches served on house-baked bread.
At Bloomingdale’s lone bakery, owner Sara Fatell supplies sugar addicts with treats often ripped from her grandmother’s recipe book. The former politico dishes out fan favorites, including rugelach (a Jewish cookie with a sweet filling) and chocolate peanut butter chip cookies. Select treats are gluten free or vegan, and Fatell offers custom cake orders (options include Bananas foster and chai latte cake) for special occasions.
Are chef Meredith Tomason’s signature mini-cakes not enough to satisfy your sweet tooth? Perhaps a cinnamon roll, blondie or glazed donut will do the trick. Baked in an open kitchen at her sleek new space at CityCenter DC, the sweets—many of which were developed from vintage cookbooks and old family recipes—will have you questioning the virtues of gimmicky hybrid baked goods (if you don’t already).
We imagine baker Doron Petersan spends a lot of her time telling customers that, yes, what you’re eating is completely vegan. It’s just so hard to believe that the plush sticky buns, peanut butter fudge cupcakes and tiramisu cakes are, in fact, dairy free. Pink vinyl booths and Petersan’s tattooed, retro look lend the Columbia Heights bakery a rockabilly vibe.