In honor of Christine & Karen‘s upcoming trip to visit me in DC, I thought I’d share a little insight as to my planning process when it comes to what to show them when they are here. I am, by no means, an expert on the DC food scene, but these are the impressions I have of it. While we won’t be able to visit all of these places, I hope you will be able to at some point!
DC was not immune to this dessert trend in the slightest. In fact, DC became something of a gourmet cupcake capital (badum-psh!) because of a TLC show called DC Cupcakes. As across the nation, we had a bit of a cupcake bubble in DC: they were the HUGEST thing and then suddenly the Crumbs locations were closed. (Some have started opening up, though?) What wasn’t to love about being allowed to eat cake any day of the week in a socially-deemed-appropriate size? You didn’t have to deal with awkward uneven cake cutting, the cakes themselves are beautiful, and you can get them for any occasion really. Buy an ice cream cake just because and you’re a sad human unwilling to let go of your childhood. Buy a cupcake just because and you are treating yo self. And you know how they get you to come back? By having a rotating menu day-by-day. You want to eat Monday AND Thursday flavors? You’ll have to come in on both days.
And before you get mad at me because I’m torturing you with cupcakes but you have dietary restrictions…. gourmet cupcake places are basically required to satisfy your cupcake cravings, too. Gluten-free? Yup. Vegan? Of course. If there’s a will to eat cupcakes, there’s a way to eat cupcakes.
Let us begin with our most famous cupcake bakery. Cupcakery, if you will.
Good old GC, the star of DC Cupcakes and the bane of several Georgetown residents’ existence. I say this from experience, the only time I ever visited Georgetown Cupcake. We arrived 30 minutes before the bakery had even opened and there was already a long line outside the door. (This was during the summer that the show premiered on TV.) GC sits on a corner and directly behind it is a residential area. Tourists had been waiting there for goodness-knows how long and were sitting on steps, on the sidewalk, whatever. A woman tried to get past another woman on one of the stoops; the woman on the stoop was less than pleased. “This is my house, get off my front step so I can get inside,” was the excellent response.
I do like their cupcakes, and if you play your cards right, you can even get free cupcakes, that’s right. But the hype is way too much for me and the cupcakes do not live up to the hype or the wait. I am unwilling to wait in that long of a line for cupcakes that are only good. They do have more locations now, but people love to visit the Georgetown location for Georgetown cupcakes at Georgetown Cupcake. The original remains one of the most reviewed businesses in DC. You can usually spot a GC cupcake by its smooth frosting.
Popular flavors include chocolate ganache, salted caramel, and red velvet at $3 each/$32 a dozen
3301 M St. NW; (202) 333-8448; georgetowncupcake.com
Baked & Wired
This is the name you will hear when locals scoff at your request for GC. Baked & Wired offers many baked goodies and coffee but they are famous for their delicious, LARGER “cakecups”. However, after taking a photo with their iconic pink bike with flowers growing in the basket (yep, it’s as cute as it sounds), be sure to order other items in addition to cupcakes. Reviewers would suggest the OMG Bar (next level s’mores) and the hippie crack (granola).
Go on and stop by GC while you’re in town. But don’t get more than one cupcake there; sneak off to Baked & Wired afterwards and put yourself in a food coma there. You can usually spot a B&W cupcake by how enormous it is, especially if it’s still wrapped in paper, but is NOT a muffin. Because it’s frosted!
Popular flavors include dirty chai, Elvis impersonator aka the Unporked Elvis, and menage-a-trois at $3.65 each
1052 Thomas Jefferson St. NW; (703) 663-8727; bakedandwired.com
The Cake Room
The Cakeroom is part of the Sugar Daddy’s franchise, owned by Jordanian pastry chef Fadi Jaber who just loved Western desserts. You go for the delicious pastries with just a hint of a not-from-around-here goodness as well as for the adorable atmosphere. They are White House-approved (they made the cake for the Easter Egg Roll this year!) and make a variety of really delicious looking cakes, not cup-sized but still good and available by the slice.
Popular flavors include banoffee, date, and lemon lavender at $2.50 each/$27.50 a dozen
2006 18th St. NW; (202) 450-4462; cakeroombakery.com
Hello Cupcake was actually my first DC cupcake experience, thanks to my friend Camden bringing some to campus when I was but a wee freshman. They have a super convenient location near the Dupont Circle metro entrance. I like that their cupcakes deliver just what they say they will and don’t try too hard, if that makes sense. Reviewers don’t rave about them as much as they do Georgtown cupcakeries, but it has survived the fall of the cupcake trend and has its own following thanks to its signature flavors.
Popular flavors include peanut butter blossom, strawberry fields, and dulce de leche at $3.50 each/$36 a dozen
1361 Connecticut Ave. NW; (202) 861-2253; hellocupcakeonline.com
You can count on DC for cupcakes, that’s for sure. Even though this trend has been officially declared over, the District and many other foodie cities will still continue to love cupcakes.
Do you like cupcakes? What’s your favorite flavor and place to get cupcakes?
What did you think of the cupcake trend? What do you think the next dessert trend is?