You can find a bakery on nearly every corner in Washington, DC, which is great for the tired tourist needing nourishment or the metro commuter who wants to grab a quick bite on their way to the office. Luckily, when you’re in search of the best bakeries in DC, you don’t need to look too far to find one that will blow your mind.
Where to Find the Best Bakeries in DC
Our guide to the best bakeries in DC will tell you just where to find that perfect morning pastry or an afternoon dessert to share with girlfriends. We’ve rounded up the top bakeshops in DC, all of which offer a wide variety of treats and baked goods. It’s definitely a guide you will want to work—or eat, rather—your way through!
Ellē is a darling little gem in the very trendy Mt. Pleasant neighborhood and is one of the best bakeries in DC. One of our favorite things about walking up to Ellē is the 80-year-old “Hellers” bakery sign that still adorns the building with only the letters “elle” still illuminated. This bakery and café serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but their baked goods are what have people visiting from far and wide. Ellē rotates a lot of their offerings each day, but they still have a few daily mainstays that we love. They always offer a honey goat cheesecake with seasonal flavors like cranberry with gingerbread crumb. Their guava turnover is one of the most unique and delicious pastries you’ll ever try—you really can’t visit Ellē without ordering it. It always sells out quickly, so make sure you arrive early. We also love Ellē’s loaves of bread, scones, and fresh doughnuts, all of which are served on adorable antique china. It gets very busy here on weekends, but if you’re visiting just for the baked goods or desserts, you can order them to-go right from the counter so you don’t have to fight for a seat (although we have a feeling you might want to stay awhile).
For years, Tatte Bakery and Café was something you could only visit on trips to Boston, but DC lucked out when Tatte decided to expand to DC with three locations: Dupont, West End, and Bethesda. Their cakes, tarts, and pastries taste as good as they look. And the ambiance in their cafes is bright and charming. If you need to order a whole cake, pie, or tart, this is the place—they have a huge variety available, as well individual pastries, desserts, and beautifully wrapped gifts for any foodie in your life. The earlier in the day you go, the better selection of pastries you’ll have. We love the gorgeous pear tart, the chocolate or cinnamon roses, or the chocolate snail (made with flaky croissant dough with chocolate pastry cream and chocolate chunks). Their individual cheesecake cups, pavlovas, and meringues are all incredible. But our very favorite thing here is the passionfruit krembo, which is a little tart with passionfruit curd, topped with a vanilla meringue swirl, and dipped in passionfruit chocolate (looks just like the top of a soft-serve ice cream cone). For us, the krembo alone makes Tatte one of the best bakeries in DC!
10. Sidekick Bakery
If you’re a lover of the famous DC chain Ted’s Bulletin (our go-to local place when friends come to visit DC), you’ll be happy to know they have introduced their first exclusive bakery. Located in Arlington at Ballston, just across the river from DC, Sidekick is next door to the newest Ted’s Bulletin and is quickly earning an incredible reputation as one of the best bakeries in DC. Of course, they have the homemade Pop-Tarts that made Ted’s famous—we love the strawberry and the brown sugar ones best. Their Cinnamon Toast Crunch banana bread is also unique and yummy. We definitely recommend Sidekick’s savory and sweet croissants, which are huge and feature fun, creative flavors such as their seasonal offering that’s filled with tart cranberries and rich orange pastry cream then covered in sweet pink icing for the perfect balance. Don’t forget to try one of their beloved salted chocolate chip cookies. If you already know and love Ted’s desserts, this is the DC bakery for you!
Mah-Ze-Dahr is a very well-known James Beard-nominated bakery from New York City and is now one of the best bakeries in DC, with two locations—one in Navy Yard and the other in Arlington. If you go, expect to spend a small fortune because you will want to try one of everything. Start with their cherry scone, which is studded with sour cherries from Michigan, and is our favorite thing in their gorgeous pastry case. A close second is their brioche doughnut, which is filled with a delicious vanilla pastry cream (they even include the doughnut hole on top). Mah-Ze-Dahr is known for their cheesecake which has a dark cookie crust. Besides that, their selection is always plentiful with various cookies, brownies, choux pastries, croissants, you name it! And if you need a little gift for someone, they have a great selection of treats in elegant packaging. If you go, go early—they run out of their most popular items by the late morning.
8. Pluma by Bluebird
For years DC’s acclaimed Bluebird Bakery only delivered their signature pastries to local restaurants and coffee shops. But in 2018, proprietors Camila Arango and Tom Wellings opened their very own café, Pluma by Bluebird, serving up their delicious pastries and baked goods at NoMa’s Union Market. The café is bright and cheery, with blue floor tiles that they ordered from Columbia, where Camila is from. Bakery favorites include their pistachio-chocolate croissants, the morning buns with orange zest and cardamon sugar, and their chocolate rye & sea salt cookies. If you’re there in the morning, grab a coconut yogurt with homemade granola to go with your pastries—you won’t be sorry.
7. Un Je Ne Sais Quoi
Un Je Ne Sais Quoi (pronounced uh-juh-nuh-say-qwa) has the prettiest pastries and desserts of all the bakeries in our guide. You’re going to fall in love the moment you walk in and see their gorgeous display, which could easily rival those found in Belgium or Paris. Although they have a huge variety of baked goods, they are famous for their Merveilleux (French for marvelous and pronounced mair-vay-yuh). This “marvelous” dessert is very light and airy, made of meringue and whipped cream, then covered in chocolate shavings. They offer the Merveilleux in dark chocolate, coffee, white chocolate, and Speculoos—which is our absolute favorite. There are other delicious pastries at Un Je Ne Sais Quoi, but trust us when we say the Merveilleux is the thing to order.
6. Fresh Baguette
Fresh Baguette is the closest thing you will find to an authentic French café in DC. It’s the perfect spot to grab lunch and then sample all their delicious pastries. Their ham & cheese baguette will transport you straight to the cobblestone streets of Paris. Their desserts and pastries are incredibly gorgeous, but they taste even better than they look. Their Berryline Croissant with strawberry cream and a Sable Breton biscuit baked inside is one-of-a-kind and delicious! Their brioche knots with Nutella are unreal and just melt in your mouth. We always devour their perfectly-filled apple chaussons. But, as their name implies, the real show-stoppers at this little patisserie are the French baguettes, which are baked fresh every two hours and taste exactly like the ones in the City of Lights. The original two locations are in Maryland, but we especially love the one in Georgetown.
5. Seylou Bakery
Seylou Bakery is certainly the most unique and understated bakery on our guide to best bakeries in DC. From the moment you walk into this bright, beautiful bakery, you know these guys take things seriously. They have bags of organic grains piled high, a giant mill that is busy grinding all their own flour, and an impressive oven brought all the way over from Spain that permeates the air with the heavenly smell of freshly baked bread. Everything is good at Seylou, but you absolutely cannot come here without trying their 100% whole wheat chocolate croissant. It. Is. SO. Good. You should also order their Pain Aux Raisin, which is so rich, flavorful, and filled with moist, tea-soaked raisins. If you visit on a weekend, go early—many of their customer favorites sell out very quickly. And don’t forget to take home a freshly-baked loaf of bread for dinner—we loved their Pain Au Levain.
4. Levain Bakery
Now that Levain Bakery has come to DC, there is no reason to go to New York City (kidding, of course). The iconic New York City bakery has drawn huge crowds from their first day open, and has quickly become one of the best bakeries in DC, with locations in Georgetown and Bethesda. Levain is most well-known for their huge decadent cookies, but they have many other noteworthy baked goods. Their baguette with butter and jam is mouthwatering and one of our favorite things to eat in the morning (get it early as it often sells out quickly). Their various loaf cakes, chocolate chip brioche, blueberry muffins, and sticky buns are all definitely worth trying someday. But the cookies are definitely what you are here for; they are huge, warm, and absolutely scrumptious. The most popular one is the chocolate chip and walnut cookie, but we also highly recommend grabbing one of the chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips.
3. Baked & Wired
The lines are often out the door, but don’t let that stop you. If you ask a DC local where to find the best cupcake in DC, without a doubt they will tell you, “Baked & Wired!” This cute, little bakery on a quiet side street in Georgetown offers delicious, moist cupcakes that are big enough to share (if you’re into that) in a wide variety of flavors. You should never leave Baked & Wired without ordering a strawberry cupcake—our personal favorite flavor, with Texas sheet cake being a close second. Even though they are known for their cupcakes, Baked & Wired is a full-service bakery with cookies, brownies, ice cream sandwiches, homemade marshmallows, and at least a dozen other delicious goodies offered each day.
2. Buttercream Bakeshop
Buttercream Bakeshop opened its doors in the Shaw neighborhood a few years ago and DC has never been the same. It’s near the top of our guide of the best bakeries in DC because of its huge selection of thoughtfully crafted, jaw-dropping desserts offered on the daily. We can’t ever seem to escape without a full box of treats because we have too many favorites here. If we had to choose, our number one pick would be the 808 Bar—the pasty chef’s nod to growing up in Hawaii; it has a chocolate-macadamia nut crust, a pile of coconut cream, and a decadent chocolate ganache topping. The Cinnascone (cinnamon roll-scone mashup) is their most iconic item—make sure you have them warm it up slightly so the cinnamon glaze is just perfectly melted when you take that first bite. Buttercream’s brownie, pie, cupcake, and cream puff flavors rotate daily, which always keeps us coming back for more. You can box your treats up to take home, but you may want to take the time to sit and enjoy a pastry (or four) amongst the shop’s delicate decor and gorgeous fresh flower arrangements that are delivered each week. (Buttercream is temporarily closed due to the pandemic–watch their website for information on special orders and opening details.
1. Rose Ave Bakery
Rose Ave Bakery is an Asian-American bakery located inside The Block in DC. Owner Rosie Nguyen was a pediatric nurse for nine years who loved to bake for her co-workers and friends. As a self-taught baker, she opened Rose Ave during the pandemic and it became one of the best bakeries in DC overnight. The menu changes every week, but always consists of a few fan favorites. The list of pastries you must order is as long as the lines around the block. The passionfruit donut is made of a fluffy brioche, filled with passionfruit curd, dusted with pink raspberry sugar, and garnished with rose petals. It’s so good that they say they will never take it off the ever-changing menu. Also always on the menu is the Ensaymada cruffin, a sweet Filipino cheese roll made with flaky croissant dough and topped with grated cheese. You can always find unique Asian flavors like ube, mochi, pandan, and matcha. They also have some amazing savory choices like their scallion pancake bun, inspired by Taiwanese scallion pancake, but in a croissant/cruffin form, sprinkled with Asian inspired “everything bagel” seasoning. If it’s your first time at Rose Ave, you may want to order the Rose Ave Special Box with six of their best sellers. Picking up baked goods at this favorite DC bakery takes some planning. Check the website for the order ahead details, but currently, you have to place your order Sunday at 5 pm for pick up the next Friday or Saturday (they usually sell out in a few minutes, so set that alarm!). If you want to try your luck and walk-in, check the hours online, but they usually are open Wednesday through Saturday. Weekend lines are very long, so bring a bottle of water and a book to read. Bottom line: these unique pastries are worth every bit of effort, and why Rose Ave Bakery is top on our guide of best bakeries in DC.