Best Cupcake

(Photograph by Darrow Montgomery)

Best: Georgetown Cupcake

1209 Potomac St. NW, (202) 333-8448

2nd Best: Baked & Wired

1052 Thomas Jefferson St. NW, (202) 333-2500

Cupcakes can save your marriage. At least that’s what the man in front me is saying. We’re standing just outside Georgetown Cupcake on a pleasant, unremarkable February weekday at 3:30 p.m. The line is at least eight people deep just to get in the front door and the wait for a cupcake is at least 15 minutes.

None of that matters to the UPS guy in front of me. After walking up to peruse the day’s selection, he comes back to report the highlights to his buddy, also in signature brown. He’s pumped about the red-velvet and key-lime varieties—and his wife will be, too. “If you ever get in the doghouse, this is your out,” he tells his friend.

For UPS drivers and their wives, there are, of course, plenty of other options when it comes to D.C.’s adventures in cupcakery: Hello Cupcake in Dupont Circle, Buzz Bakery in Alexandria, and newcomer Red Velvet Cupcakery in Chinatown, for example.

But, yes, Georgetown Cupcake is our unoriginal top choice. By now, any enthusiast knows it’s D.C.’s finest. The nation’s top food critics have said all the right stuff already. Yes, the cake is “moist and rich,” and the frosting’s “creamy and buttery,” according to the New York Times’ Frank Bruni. And, yes, these cakes won the Washington Post’s ridiculous eight-week-long “Cupcake Wars.”

The best among the rest, however, is Baked & Wired, also in G-town. These treats—more like mini cakes than cupcakes—with names like “Chocolate Cake of Doom” and “Fat Rabbit’s Carrot Cake Cupcake” have heft, heart, and a hell of a lot of frosting. An entire one will, within a few minutes, send you into a sugar coma with your head dangling over the edge of the nearby canal.

The homemade look and taste of Baked & Wired’s cupcakes, however, is still not enough to edge out the frontrunner, but the frontrunner is not without fault.

First, the shop’s way too small. If the owners care enough about their customers, they’ll quickly find a spot that fits more than one table and will have some room for lined-up customers to wait inside.

Also, the employee and customer interaction is problematic. To exchange money, arms and hands move directly above the treats—no refrigerated display case in cute cupcake land!—exposing them to all manner of random hairs, employee under-armpit odor, and just general jostling. It’s unnerving.

But nonetheless forgivable—as my UPS friend attests. “I started coming when they first started up,” he says. A year later, he’s still giddy when he gets to the front of the line.

“Two red velvet—no, make that three,” he says. “Two key lime and a strawberry.”

He plunks down $16.50 for a half-dozen and turns to grin at his friend.

Goodbye, doghouse.