Best: Gold Crust Bakery
501 E. Monroe Ave., Alexandria, (703) 549-0420
2nd Best: Patisserie Poupon
1645 Wisconsin Ave. NW, (202) 342-3248
Still below the radar, Gold Crust Bakery offers breads good enough that both former White House chefs and Five Guys Burgers and Fries have been regulars. Yet the space on an industrial stretch in a colorless warehouse is for takeaway only. If you’re looking for a less spartan experience to accompany your buttery croissant, fruit-filled pastry, or decadent cake, Patisserie Poupon is your place. Delicious coffee, fresh-squeezed juices, old-fashioned bakery boxes tied with string: Details are tended to without the emasculation of cupcake shops, which are becoming the Barney of bakeries—more annoying than cute. Though lunch is available, this is the place to go when you’re missing European café culture. While away an afternoon here as you sip a frothy latte from a bowl.