What beats a city where cupcakes and doughnuts are en vogue?
Your arsenal of holiday sweets has just run dry. Luckily, Chicago is prepared for this sort of emergency. You’re in the place where locals prefer trends to come in a sugary form. With options from cakes that double as art to cookies that double as pizza, your sweet tooth won’t suffer withdrawal for long.
If You’re Staying at 215 West:
Open since 2002, Sweet Mandy B’s (1208 W. Webster Ave.) was one of the pioneering independent Chicago bakeries aboard the national cupcake frenzy. And it’s still the buzz in the local pastry universe. Why? Just plain ol’ delicious cupcakes… and cakes, and cookies, and whoopee pies, and macaroons…
If You’re Staying at the Elm Creek Apartments in Elmhurst:
The Bleeding Heart Bakery (116 S. York St., Elmhurst) didn’t land a spot on the Food Network’s “Extreme Cakes” competition show by chance. It’s the first certified organic retail bakery in the US, but it puts equal emphasis on simple deliciousness. Try a “punk rock pastry” cake fashioned like a lobster and get it vegan, nut-, sugar-, soy- and gluten-free too. Or taste the flavor of the month, like January’s vegan chocolate cherry cupcake.
If You’re Staying at 400 N. LaSalle:
Single-handedly answering to the cupcake craze is the Doughnut Vault (401 ½ N. Franklin St.). The closing time is “when we run out [of doughnuts],” which is often barely two hours after its 8:30am opening. Enduring the notorious long line for a gourmet doughnut is more of an event than a pastry run. But where else can you get a pumpkin with oatmeal pie crust doughnut?
If You’re Staying at River 595:
Put the days of Oreo binging behind you, meet Cookie Bar (2475 N. Lincoln Ave.). Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like, but healthier. The cookies are made without trans fat, margarine, high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors. Try a giant cookie pizza with a hot chocolate shot, or just go for a funky flavor. Vegan oatmeal chile mango macadamia, potato chip chocolate chip or caramelized crunchy banana anyone?
Get There: Take the UP-NW train toward Chicago OTC from the Des Plaines Metra. Get off at the Clybourn Metra and hop on the 73 bus headed toward Clark/North at Cortland and Ashland. Get off at Armitage and Sheffield and get on the Brown Line El headed toward Kimball at Armitage. Get off at Fullerton and walk west down W. Fullerton Ave. and turn left on N. Lincoln Ave. Commute Time: 1 hour
If You’re Staying at City View at the Highlands in Lombard:
Find a blue house with the big wooden patio nestled in a forest and you’re at Ashbary Coffee House (8695 Archer Avenue Unit 1, Willow Springs). This place of mismatched furniture, used books, board games and sunken couches is the haven for sweet-toothed latte lovers; the list of flavor syrups never ends. Pair your peanut butter chai chocolate banana coffee shake with a homemade brownie and you’ll be set for the afternoon. For the frequent open mic nights, comedy shows and concerts they can hook you up with a beer.
Holidays and birthdays shouldn’t be the only times to indulge in the sweeter side of life. And with such a serious investment in sugary snacking trends, Chicagoans sincerely believe it. Did you know it’s scientifically proven that cupcakes instantly make you smile? Okay, it’s not. Not yet, anyway.