One of my favorite guilty pleasures is dessert, especially ice cream and doughnuts. Case in point, when I visited one of my best friends and fellow blogger Leigh Anne of A Genuine Delight in New York City, our first stop after dropping my bags was Doughnut Plant. And I’ll never turn down a peek at the dessert menu. So it’s no surprise that after six months in D.C., I’ve already discovered a few favorites that I return to again and again (in moderation of course). Bonus, most of these are locally grown businesses I’m glad to support.
Astro Doughnuts is probably my favorite find in the District and it’s at the top of my list when people come to visit. The menu features a changing lineup of seasonal doughnuts alongside a few standbys that are always on the menu like vanilla glazed, crème brûlée and PB&J. You can never go wrong with the vanilla but some of my recent seasonal favorites include chocolate espresso and lemon hibiscus. I go to the downtown D.C. location where all the flavors are yeasted doughnuts, but I’m told their Falls Church location offers a few of the flavors as cake doughnuts instead.
However one of my favorite aspects of Astro is that you can get fried chicken with your doughnuts! All of the Astro chicken sandwiches come on a split un-glazed doughnut. The airy yeast doughnut balances out the crisp fried exterior so well. It’s a match made in foodie heaven. The breakfast sandwich is delicious with a honey-butter drizzle, but I think my top choice would have to be the BLT chicken sandwich. It’s got so many of my favorite foods — bacon, fried chicken and doughnut — in one compact meal. Pro tip, it’s not always listed on the board but you can usually get a side of tater tots (especially if you beat the lunch crowd)!
Buttercream has been open for two weeks and I’ve already been three times. Each time, I tried something new be it a brownie, shortie or the latest visit when they finally had some of their filled flakies available. Flakies are Buttercream’s croissant-style pastry and they are formed more in the shape of a muffin, which means you get more of those buttery laminated layers in each bite. Let me tell you the passion fruit flakie was worth the wait, the juxtaposition of the delicate buttery pastry with the sweet tart cream filling was . The flavors took me straight back to Hawaii bite after bite. I ordered the espresso chocolate chip shortie in part because I’ve never perfect the art of baking shortbread, and it immediately reminded me why I shouldn’t try and just find a bakery like Buttercream that’s got it down. The cookie had a prominent espresso flavor that I loved and perfectly walked that fine line between dense and tender.
There’s just something about a good gelato or ice cream on a leisurely afternoon, especially now that we’re getting into summer. My favorite in the District so far is Dolcezza, which serves fruit-based sorbettos and super-rich gelato. I’ve always enjoyed the dense, creamy texture just a little more than traditional ice cream, probably because it just seems more decadent. Like the other sweet treats I’ve discussed so far, they source ingredients locally and change flavors seasonally. As with any gelato shop, my go-to flavor will always be stracciatella with its delicate bits of chocolate woven in. Dolcezza makes a great peanut butter stracciatella as well, if you’re feeling like a more indulgent treat. And for sorbettos, I particularly love the blood orange and champagne mango when they’re available.
I couldn’t write a list of sweet goods in DC without including this NY transplant. I wrote about some of my favorites on their menu here, but really if you’ve never been before you have to try the cereal milk soft serve. It lives up to it’s name and tastes exactly like that sweet leftover milk at the bottom of your cereal bowl that we’ve all been known to sip. Order it with the crunchy cereal bits on top and you almost forget you’re eating dessert. The cookies are a convenient treat that come individually packaged, making them easy to pick up and save for later, be it a snack while sightseeing or a mid-afternoon work treat.