Far from the cupcake wars of Georgetown, Lavender Moon Cupcakery is a far more low-key spot, baking delicious cupcakes in an adorable space in Old Town Alexandria, just off King Street. In fact, it does little other than bake cupcakes. While they have bottled cold drinks like water and soda for sale, they don’t offer coffee like Georgetown’s Baked and Wired does. While I appreciate having coffee or hot chocolate with my cupcake, Lavender Moon is in the business of doing one thing and doing it well. The cupcakes are smaller than the massive ones you’ll find at other cupcakeries, but $3 doesn’t seem too unreasonable of a price for premium cupcakes such as these, especially when the La Boulange crap at Starbucks costs about the same. I ordered a chocolate peanut butter cupcake and really enjoyed it. If you’re in Alexandria, check it out!
Lavender Moon Cupcakery is located at 116 S Royal St. in Alexandria, VA.
I have a friend who is obsessed with macarons. So obsessed that she researches macaron places whenever she moves to a new city and samples them, mercilessly critiquing them with her exacting standards until she finds a place where they have the flavors she likes, the proper cookie to filling ratio, and the requisite crunchy exterior but soft interior. My friend’s exacting standards took me to Olivia Macaron, a small bakery in Georgetown. The macarons (please, please, please don’t call them macaroons- those are made from coconut and are a completely different dessert) were delicious and, as is usual for macarons, grossly overpriced at $2.50 for one small cookie. My friend is especially fond of the seasonal cherry blossom flavor, and it was indeed very tasty. So, if you don’t mind paying a pretty penny for your tasty treat (as is always the case with macarons), this place is worth checking out. Just don’t expect cutesy French decor- it’s pretty minimalist, which is too bad in my opinion. And for my kosher-observant friends, their macarons are certified kosher!
Olivia Macaron is located at 3222 M Street NW in Georgetown, with additional locations in Bethesda and Tyson’s Corner.
All anyone sees on the news these days about Syria is war and the refugee crisis. But Syria is also home to an ancient and rich culture, including delicious food. Lamis Sweets, an online order bakery based in Chantilly, Virginia, specializes in delicious Syrian sweets such as mamoul (shortbread pastries usually filled with dates and walnuts) and ghraybeh (butter cookies topped with an almond). I first tried their sweets at a benefit event for Syrian refugees hosted by Moishe House, an organization that puts on events for young Jewish adults. They were so delicious that I immediately ordered a box of ghrayben to bring to my weekly staff meeting at work. At $10.99 for a beautifully packaged box of 30 delicious home-baked cookies, the prices are pretty reasonable (though shipping is extra). They make really great gift items for a holiday or a dinner party and I will definitely be ordering from them again!
You can order from Lamis Sweets on their website.
Jenin Pastry is an authentic Palestinian sweets place located at 5820 Seminary Rd in Bailey’s Crossroads, VA. Since I’ve lived in Jordan , where it’s easy to find excellent kunafeh and baklava, I always appreciate finding Arab sweets in the US, but only if they’re done properly. Fortunately, Jenin Pastry delivers. From the delicious, hot kunfeh, to the wide variety of baklava, to on-point Turkish coffee, to the plastic watering can in the bathroom (if you don’t know what that’s for, look it up), this place is the real deal. They also offer boxes and baskets of assorted baklava, which makes a great gift item. While the kunafeh wasn’t quite on the level of Habibeh in Amman, which possibly has the best kunafeh in the world, it was good (and that’s hard to find in the US).
Simit + Smith is a Turkish bakery, sandwich shop, and coffeehouse located at 1077 Wisconsin Avenue NW in Georgetown. Simit + Smith is a small chain that currently has a handful of other locations in the NYC area, but this location is its first in the DMV. The namesake food at Simit + Smith is the simit, a Turkish, ring-shaped bread somewhat similar to a bagel but a much closer cousin of the Jerusalem bagel aka Jerusalem ka’ak. It’s covered in sesame seeds, savory and delicious. I had a classic simit sandwich with feta and tomato, which reminded me a lot of the delicious “bagel toast” sandwiches I ate almost every morning for breakfast at the famous Arab bakery called Abulafia when I lived in Tel Aviv. They also make spot-on Turkish coffee which is an excellent accompaniment to a simit sandwich. Friendly service and a very cute atmosphere rounds out the experience. The only additional thing I’d like to see is a cheaper way to buy plain simits in bulk. Since this bread has a unique texture and flavor, I’d love to be able to buy a dozen to host a brunch. However, at $3 per simit, that would be awfully expensive just for some bread, however excellent that bread may be.
Uprising Muffin Company is a cafe and muffin bakery located at 1817 7th St NW. Given the fact that cupcake bakeries are all the rage these days, it’s unsurprising that the close cousin of the cupcake, the muffin, now has it’s own dedicated spot. I had a pumpkin muffin, which was tasty, though didn’t knock my socks off. Fortunately, unlike Baked and Wired, there’s a decent amount of space and good WiFi. They serve Stumptown Coffee and this is a good spot to hang out and work for a bit, even on the weekends.
Captain Cookie & The Milkman is a food truck serving cookies, milk and ice cream. You can check for their location on their Twitter. They also have a brick and mortar location at 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Foggy Bottom. The whimsy of the concept of serving up milk and cookies to downtown workers and others from a food truck is charming. Maybe I caught them on the wrong day, but their cookies just aren’t that great. I ordered a nutella cookie and an oatmeal raisin, but it wasn’t until I got back to the office that I discovered that I had actually been given chocolate chip instead of the oatmeal raisin. The chocolate chip cookie had a weird banana flavor to it that I wasn’t all too fond of (plus I wanted oatmeal raisin!) and the Nutella cookie really didn’t have a distinct Nutella flavor to it; it really just tasted like chocolate. Again, I love the concept, but I either had an isolated subpar experience or they need to work on their execution. Call me crazy, but I’d rather go to Subway for cookies (I secretly really like the cookies at Subway).
Fine Sweet Shoppe is a bakery located inside Eastern Market at 225 7th St SE. Despite its name, Fine Sweet Shop is not just fine, it’s great! They have a wide variety of baked goods, but I especially love them for their New York Jewish baked goods, like black and white cookies, ruggalah and hamentashen. As a native of Long Island and an honorary M.O.T. (member of the tribe), I was raised on this stuff. For the uninitiated, hamentashen are a traditional sweet for the Jewish holiday of Purim, which celebrates the story of Queen Esther (and which is an occasion on which Jews are supposed to get so drunk that they can no longer keep the names of the protagonist and antagonist of Purim straight). They are basically a triangular cookie with a filling, named after Haman, the villain of the Purim story (sounds like great drunk food to me). The hamentashen at Fine Sweet Shoppe are HUGE and come in both apricot and chocolate chip cookie flavors. Both flavors are delicious.
Astro Donuts and Fried Chicken is located at 1308 G Street NW (there is an additional location in Falls Church, VA, as well as a food truck whose location can be found on Twitter). They serve absolutely delicious donuts, as well as fried chicken and fried chicken sandwiches served on unglazed, plain donuts. I have had both their maple bacon donut, which is phenomenal, as well as their chicken BLT sandwich. The chicken blt sandwich is fried chicken, bacon, lettuce and tomato served on a donut- it is an utterly delicious and satisfying lunch but I have no desire to know what its calorie count is. Ignorance is bliss. They also serve coffee but don’t really have seating, so it’s not the sort of place where you can hang out. It’s a great place, for a fattening breakfast or a comfort food lunch (which those of us who work downtown could use sometimes). It also doesn’t seem to get as jammed as other downtown spots, despite its popularity (probably because it’s not the sort of stuff you should eat everyday if you don’t want to die of a heart attack at age 40). Highly recommended (in moderation- or not, #yolo).
Cafe Mozart is a German market, deli, bakery, coffee shop, bar and restaurant located at 1331 H St NW. It has been said that Austria’s two biggest accomplishments have been:
- Convincing the world that Beethoven was Austrian.
- Convincing the world that Hitler was German.
Cafe Mozart attempts to undo some of this by implicitly calling Mozart German. Cafe Mozart is a true DC institution that has been in business since 1981. It is kind of bizarrely laid out. When you walk in, immediately to your left there is an assortment of German non-food items for sale. To your right is a small cafe section with Viennese coffee and delicious-looking pastries (like . Straight ahead is the deli section, which serves such items as schnitzel, sausages, sausage sandwiches, kosher pickles and knishes. I took a peek at the restaurant in the back which has warm, old-fashioned decor and
My delicious sausage sandwich.
a menu that is significantly pricier than the deli menu. As I was there on my lunch hour (and I’m not exactly drowning in money) I opted for a sausage sandwich with sauerkraut and mustard (very tasty) and a plain knish. The knish was disappointing and lacked the savory flavor that as a culturally-Jewish New Yorker I expect from a knish; it was dry and bland. This place still earns four stars, though, for its tasty sausages and for being a quirky place with character downtown that’s one of the only spots where you can find a huge variety of authentic German
The less-than-optimal knish.
items in DC.