Check out seven of the best bakeries in Washington DC.
This is a good time to be a Washingtonian: in recent years, bakeries have been opening their doors in neighborhoods across the city, with still more operating as pop-ups or farmers market stands soon to unveil their own brick-and-mortar space. Together with local baked goods stalwarts, such as Georgetown’s beloved Baked & Wired and the vegan-friendly Sticky Fingers in Columbia Heights, these newcomers have made DC a terrific town for both breakfast and dessert. Here’s a look at some of the best.
Baked & Wired
Baked & Wired isn’t just one of the best bakeries in DC—it’s often considered one of the very best in the country. During the height of the cupcake craze, food writer Corby Kummer declared in The Atlantic that Baked & Wired was home to “the only just-right cupcake” he’d sampled among all the trendy shops of the time. And just as the joint predated cupcake mania, it has lasted long past that time, too, remaining the place to go in DC for coffee cake, zucchini bread, caramel blondies, fudgy brownies, custom cakes, chocolate chip cookies, cherry hand pies, homemade ice cream sandwiches, and, of course, perfect cupcakes.
New Orleans native David Guas has been educating Washingtonians on the wonders of Cajun cuisine since opening Bayou Bakery in Arlington in 2010. Though the shop, which recently opened a location on Capitol Hill (pictured), offers classic entrees like jambalaya and crawfish etouffee, Guas first made his name in DC as a pastry chef. So it’s no surprise that the glass case in front full of beignets, praline scones, cornbread, cookies, layer cakes, and more is such a popular stop. Bayou Bakery also sells some goods that make terrific gifts, such as PorKorn, a bag of salted caramel popcorn studded with Benton’s bacon and Virginia peanuts.
Legendary James Beard Award-nominated bread maker Mark Furstenberg has been elevating the bakery scene in DC for decades, first with Marvelous Market and then with the sandwich-focused phenom BreadLine. He returned to great acclaim in early 2014 with the neighborhood bakery Bread Furst. It’s well worth the journey out to Van Ness for a loaf of challah, a bag of bagels, fresh baguettes, cookies, coffee eclairs, and pies and cakes made to order. Not to mention Furstenberg’s popular Palladin rolls—a type of ciabatta inspired by another local luminary, Jean-Louis Palladin—which are available by the pound.
It may not be open just yet, but Buttercream Bakeshop is certain to be a success when it unlocks its doors in Shaw (hopefully this winter), thanks to the loyal following owner Tiffany MacIsaac has cultivated during her years as head pastry chef for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group (Red Apron Butcher, Birch & Barley, Iron Gate, and more). MacIsaac has since struck out on her own with cake decorator Alexandra Mudry to create Buttercream Bakeshop, creating from-scratch confections such as peanut butter buckeyes, tangerine twix bars, oatmeal cream pies, and flawless special occasion cakes and cookies. Buttercream Bakeshop delivers across the DC area and operates pops-up occasionally in town, so keep your eyes peeled in the meantime.
Founded in 2011, Frenchie’s built up a dedicated following through the years at local farmers’ markets, particularly enthralling Washingtonians with baker Erica Skolnik’s airy croissants. Earlier this year, the bakery found itself a full-time outpost at Maketto, H Street’s hot new restaurant/men’s lifestyle store/coffee shop. During the day, you can head upstairs to grab some coffee and Frenchie’s croissants, sticky buns, kouign amanns, cookies, nutter butters, and more. Maketto is also where you can pick up your orders of Frenchie’s cakes and pies—including a carrot cake with pecan praline filling.
Washingtonians eagerly anticipated the opening of RareSweets in the upscale downtown retail complex CityCenter late last year, having first gotten hooked on owner Meredith Tomason’s baked goods at the Union Kitchen incubator. Before that, Tomason developed a taste for seasonality as pastry chef at Tom Colicchio’s flagship Craft Restaurant in NYC. At RareSweets, she offers a menu of cookies, bars, and breakfast items like cheddar drop biscuits and brioche doughnuts filled with plum jam. Cakes come in classic and seasonal flavors (think: graham and concord grape, or pumpkin and bourbon cocoa), while ice cream rotates among options like sour cream and sorghum, and milk chocolate and peanut.
Since 1999, Sticky Fingers has proven that you don’t need butter and eggs to make really delicious desserts and pastries. Baker Doron Petersan—a two-time winner on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars—has kept both vegans and carnivores satiated from her storefront in Columbia Heights. The cupcakes are classics, but so are the sticky buns, and vanilla cream-filled chocolate cake sandwiches known as Little Devils. Order ahead for cakes like tiramisu (made with organic espresso), peanut butter fudge, grasshopper, and various “fancy” custom-designed treats for special events.