Eat DC: Cupcakes

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.

Georgetown Cupcake

(Photo source:

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 ganachesalted caramel, and red velvet at $3 each/$32 a dozen

3301 M St. NW; (202) 333-8448;

Baked & Wired

(Photo source: Coral Gundlach on trulia)

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;

The Cake Room

(Photo source: Fadi J. on Yelp)

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 banoffeedate, and lemon lavender at $2.50 each/$27.50 a dozen

2006 18th St. NW; (202) 450-4462;

Hello Cupcake

Hello Cupcake Dupont Favorable
(Photo source:

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 blossomstrawberry fields, and dulce de leche at $3.50 each/$36 a dozen

1361 Connecticut Ave. NW; (202) 861-2253;

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? 

Eat DC: Tapas/Small Plates

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!

Tapas. Small plates of yummy food, typical of Spanish cuisine.

Or, if you are in DC and not Spain, then tapas are associated with one name and one name only: José Andrés, the celebrity chef who I hear is single-handedly responsible for bringing small plates to DC and America at large.

Personally, I am not really into the tapas/small plates trend. It just seems like an excuse for restaurants to serve me very small servings of food with a side of this insult: “You can order several and share with friends.” Excuse me, this is barely enough for me and you want me to share with my friends? They will not be friends after we attempt to share these teeny portions. I prefer standard-sized portions. (I also feel slightly wrong calling dim sum “Chinese tapas”, because you’re only being charged $4 for an order versus being charged $9 for two bites of food. But I digress.)

Whether you’re a fan or not, small plates are a huge part of DC food culture, especially because we have so many José Andrés establishments here. All of these are intensely popular for happy hours — after all, weren’t small plates invented for happy hour? — and brunch, because DC is a city that brunches and brunches hard.

Here are a few that are an important part of the DC small plate scene:


Yes, those are foosball tables (Photo source:

We must start with José Andrés’s flagship tapas restaurant, Jaleo. This is THE restaurant that to be named when discussing tapas in DC. There are a few locations now in the DMV (DC-Maryland-Virginia), but the DC location is the original and most popular, so it helps to have a reservation when you go.

Popular items include gambas al ajillo (shrimp with garlic), patatas bravas (home fries), croquetas, and sangria

Come for happy hour aka “Jaleo hour” aka “sangria hour”

480 7th St. NW; (202) 628-7949;


Pinxtos (Photo source:

This Logan Circle tapas place tries to make shelling out your dinero for tapas a bit easier as the portions are larger than some other places and they are almost always a hit. It’s a treat-yo-self kind of place, but if you get really into small plates (as DC clearly has), it’s a great treat.

Popular items include manchego cheesecakemusselspork belly sandwich, and white sangria

Come for brunch, dinner

1520 14th St. NW; (202) 319-1404;


(Photo source:

Another José Andrés establishment (and for the sake of variety, the last one I will have on this list), Zaytinya serves Mediterranean tapas, aka mezze restaurant. Instead of Spanish tapas, the menu is inspired by Turkish, Greek, and Lebanese cuisine

Popular items include any vegetables especially brussel sprouts and baba ghannouge (eggplant), falafel, and kibbeh (burghul w/ a mince).

Come for happy hour and brunch

701 9th St. NW; (202) 638-0800;

Masa 14

(Photo source:

Deviating from the others a bit, Richard Sandoval’s (more celebrity chefs!) Masa 14 is neither a true tapas or a mezze restaurant. Rather, it is an Asian-Latin fusion small plates joint that is known for their great happy hours and bottomless brunch. It really doesn’t get more DC-trendy than that, folks. Also, this is the one spot on this list that I have actually visited! Although it is, by far, not the only small plates restaurant I have visited.

Popular items include the mushroom flatbreadyucca fries, crispy shrimp,and fried rice.

Come for happy hour and bottomless brunch

1825 14th St. NW; (202) 328-1414;

Cure Bar and Bistro

(Photo source: Ken on Urbanspoon)

Let’s veer even more away from the traditional Spanish tapas or even from Mediterranean mezze into small plates of classic American fare, which is what Cure Bar and Bistro offers. This hotel lounge has an emphasis on cured meats (as the name indicates) and pairing your food with the right drinks. Also staying with another food trend, Cure uses locally sourced and sustainable food.

Popular items include mac and cheesechicken pot pie, roast chicken, and pork belly BLT

Come for lunch and dinner

1000 H St. NW; (202) 637-4906;

That’s just a tiny sampling of our booming small plates scene in DC. If you visit and you haven’t been offered a small plate, you are kind of missing out, to be honest!

Do you like small plate restaurants? Tapas? Mezze?
What are the big food trends in your city? Even if your city is DC, what do you think it is?