Treat your sweet tooth without breaking the bank
Traversing the colorful streets of Washington, D.C., irresistible smells waft through the air. As streetlights glow orange and crimson leaves drift through the brisk autumn breeze, the cozy bakeries lining each street corner beckon you in with glistening pastries and decadent cakes. Don’t expect mom-and-pops in D.C., though – at the ends of bustling, winding lines of hungry customers are some of the U.S.’s most popular bakery chains. However, not every bakery is worth the hefty price tag or the long wait. Here is our review of four overhyped bakery chains located here in D.C: what’s yummy, crummy, and what’s just plain vanilla okay?
Nothing Bundt Cakes - Yummy
Starting with our favorite bakery of the bunch, Nothing Bundt Cakes is nothing but scrumptious. Named Yelp’s second most loved brand in the U.S., their customer’s love is clearly manifested in their delicious, handcrafted bundt cakes. While the shop screams “Hallmark birthday card” more than “bakery” and the expensive bundles are off-putting, the taste is worth the upcharge. Nothing Bundt Cakes adds a modern twist to the traditional bundt cake: the cakes are moist, fluffy, and soft with a cream cheese frosting that perfectly balances the sweet and the savory. The cake and frosting work perfectly together, fusing in the mouth to add a harmonious, silky trail of delight across the palate. As lovers of cream cheese frosting, we found that the sweetness level was just enough to satisfy our sweet tooth without making us feel nauseous.
Still, the actual flavor profile of the cakes wasn’t very clear – notes of white chocolate and raspberry, for instance, got lost in translation. Nonetheless, for the amount of cake you get per bundle, Nothing Bundt Cakes is definitely worth the cost, especially for their specialty cakes. With 15 locations across the DMV, it is a superb bakery to stop by when you’re craving something sweet.
Levain Bakery - Yummy
On a windy fall day, nothing cozies you up quite like a warm, ooey-gooey cookie. Levain Bakery is well known for its legendary cookies – although they may look more like oversized muffin tops or scones. Unlike your generic Chips Ahoy! cookies, Levain’s are dense, fluffy, and huge. They fit the bill for both crunchy and soft cookie lovers, with their golden brown, crispy edges and a gooey core that’s so moist it feels underbaked. The chocolate chips are chunky yet chewy; melting underneath both your fingertips and your tongue as you pull the cookies apart and savor the richness of the chocolate.
For five dollars a cookie, you get a lot – it’s hard to finish a cookie in one sitting. While certainly yummy, the cookies are more like heavy cakes that can quickly overload your taste buds with sugar. Levain’s cookies taste best warm, so don’t wait for them to harden – which can certainly happen in between bites. We recommend keeping a beverage on hand as a palate cleanser since even one cookie was hard to fully devour between the two of us.
Georgetown Cupcake - Vanilla
Other than the beautiful waterfront, Georgetown is known for its delicious cupcakes. Each and every cake is frosted to perfection with a rainbow sprinkle on top. Their menu is full of creative descriptions which, impressively, match the given cupcake. Taking a bite out of the Coffee Cookies & Creme gives you the magical feeling of really dipping cookies in lattes. Each bite confuses your tongue as familiar tastes are recreated within a simple cupcake.
We are not exaggerating either – the long lines in D.C. are more than enough to prove the quality of the cupcakes. However, we will admit that we found that their baking process was missing a noticeable touch of love. The cupcakes didn’t stand out to us: there was nothing that made them special. Sugar, butter, and flour are mixed with calculated proportions guaranteeing success, but unfortunately, it also guarantees an unremarkable sameness. Regardless, Georgetown Bakery is still worth a try. Perhaps not for the four-dollar price tag, but worth it for the memories.
Crumbl Cookies - Crummy
Littered throughout the TikTok For You Page, influencers seem to really enjoy the sugary cookies from Crumbl. Not to worry though — we are here to expose the truth. At first, the price sounds reasonable as they come in sizes comparable to the heads of toddlers, but quantity will never excuse quality. The moment that a Crumbl Cookie hits your tongue is a moment of regret. The sugar ends up being your enemy while the sweetness feels malicious inside your mouth.
Crumbl tries to hide the quality of their cookies behind gimmicks. No one will notice that your menu items are bad if you just change the menu every week. The novelty of the weekly menu keeps people coming back, blissfully unaware that they are consuming lackluster cookies every week. With bakeries like Levain, we question how Crumbl even stays in business. If you are ever in the mood for an unreasonably large cookie, skip Crumbl and go to Levain.
With only so many dollars in your bank account, each purchase should be made with careful thought. We hope that you will remember our review on your next afternoon adventure into D.C. and hopefully, save some money thanks to it. After all, there is a true difference between yummy and crummy!
Angelina Cao. Hi, my name is Angelina and I am a writer! I like animation and crocheting :) More »
Sophia Li. Hey, it's Sophia, SCO's blog editor and fact checker! I love eating hot pot and any other spicy foods. More »