You can always pick up dessert at a grocery store or indulge after dinner at a nearby restaurant, but once you find a truly talented bakery, nothing can compare to the treats they create. Store-bought sweets will no longer do, and you’ll find yourself daydreaming about the mouthwatering creations they serve up. We asked you, our fans, to tell us what bakeries and desserts stood out in your area for our annual Culinary Challenge, and the results didn’t disappoint. Here are the fourteen sweet spots around Virginia that are crowd-pleasing customer favorites.
Argyle Cupcakes and Frozen Yogurt—North Chesterfield
The cupcakes at Argyle Cupcakes are made with frozen yogurt as a healthier alternative. They also have probiotic cultures that provide a number of health benefits, making it a better alternative to traditional cupcakes. They bake cupcakes in over 30 flavors, including Crème Brulee, Twinkie, Cherry Cheesecake, and Strawberry Lemonade, and the shop introduces new limited-time flavors on a weekly basis.
Smithfield Gourmet Café & Bakery—Smithfield
Smithfield Bakery makes everything from scratch, using local produce from their garden garden when in season and also from local farmers. They have been in business for 24 years, always working to make the best product possible. As one of the few bakeries left that still believes in handcrafting every product, their baking style is best described as old-world. A few customer favorites include the Danish rings, sticky buns, custard bread pudding, and many different flavors of cheesecakes. This Smithfield dessert destination prides themselves on being community and detail oriented.
Glimmer Cake Shop—Norfolk
Glimmer Cake Shop is bringing the American Bakery back to America! They craft incredible cakes from the most simple to the custom-made three-dimensional with the best flavors so that you can have your cake and eat it, too. The menu also features gourmet confections that America is known for, such as dessert bars, cookies, brownies and cupcakes. They hand select all of their local ingredients, such as apples, strawberries, melons, pumpkins and more, to create their own extracts and flavors. They love Virginia so much that some of the treats are tweaked to suit a specific Virginia fashion, such as the 7-layer bar that uses local pecans and toffee instead of butterscotch and walnuts.
Bonnie Blue Bakery—Winchester
Award-winning Bonnie Blue Southern Market & Bakery in Winchester celebrates traditional Virginia style baked goods, featuring local apples, berries and peaches from the Shenandoah Valley. The Washington Post called the bakery “Road trip Inspiration” and their signature cheddar bacon biscuits “amazing”. Led by Chef Brian Pellatt, Bonnie Blue is a regional favorite for Virginia foodies and is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The owner of Eileen’s Bakery, Trista Couser, moved from Vail, Colorado to Fredericksburg in 2005, and shortly after, she opened Eileen’s Bakery and Cafe. Since then she has not had a chance to look back. Quality, consistency, and a courteous staff are key ingredients in what makes Eileen’s a local favorite place to relax and enjoy delicious desserts and other bakery items. Come to Eileen’s to surround your senses with the smell of freshly baked bread, delicate pastries and scones made with fresh cream. All of the pastries and breads are made fresh by hand daily at this Fredericksburg bakery. They pride themselves in using an array of fresh local ingredients baked into every enjoyable bite.
Sub Rosa Bakery—Richmond
Sub Rosa is a wood fired bakery and stone-milling operation located in the historic neighborhood of Church Hill in Richmond. They specialize in the timeless craft of bread and pastry baking, using high-quality organic, regional, and heirloom grains. Everything they bake comes from the on-site wood-fired masonry oven. They use a large selection of organic Virginia fruits, meats, & vegetables in their recipes, resulting in rich pastries and breads.
Carrot Tree Kitchens—Williamsburg
A Yorktown tradition offering breakfast, lunch, bakery and deli items, Carrot Tree Kitchens prepares all their dishes from scratch, including fresh-baked goods, wraps, deli sides, salads, soups, and desserts. Owner Debi Helseth is one of the few bakery owners for whom food remains a love, not a business. As you would expect from the bakery name, the carrot cake is what they are famous for.
Mrs. Rowe’s Bakery—Staunton
At Mrs. Rowe’s Family Restaurant & Bakery, they know what quality Southern cookingl, smells and tastes like. Providing Staunton area residents with delectable home-style cooked meals for more than 65 years has allowed them to perfect both the recipes and the service. When folks in Northern Virginia crave decadent pies, as well as many tasty entrée options like fried chicken, they head straight to Mrs. Rowe’s.
Buttermilk Bake Shop—Petersburg
The pastry shelves at Buttermilk are stocked with donuts, scones, muffins, cakes, cinnamon rolls, cheesecake, pies, and cupcakes, all of which are homemade. In addition to their daily pastry selection, they lovingly bake hand-kneaded batches of their own brioche bread each day. They also bake wedding and special occasion cakes to order, crafting inspired confections for every unique and valued customer.
The Family Bakery—Gate City
This small family owned and operated bakery is located in a beautifully restored century old building in historic downtown Gate City. They pride themselves in serving traditional home baked sweets as well as delicious seasonal specialties highlighting regional flavors. Their selection changes daily, infusing local and seasonal flavors into their delectable desserts.
Proper Pie Company—Richmond
Upon making a stop at Proper Pie, famed Food Network Chef Alton Brown tried a few slices of their exceptional pies and had this to say: “Their savory pies are out-of-this-world, but their pumpkin pie is the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever had in my life. That’s right, best ever. Not only is the consistency creamy and not too sweet, but they top it with a salted caramel. If you’re in the area, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not trying a slice of this pie. I will also go on to say you should probably try the coconut cream pie too. Yes. Get both.” He pretty much said it all.
When you visit Blackbird Bakery, it is as though you stepped back to a time when neighbors and shop owners knew each other on a first name basis. One of the first things that stands out is the pleasant, inviting atmosphere that awaits you when you step through the door.
Although they are well-known for their doughnuts, you’ll find delicious pastries and desserts ranging from rich baklava and chocolate croissants to cupcakes, brownies, and pies. Baked in-house daily, these desserts will make you realize at the first bite that the products are handmade using only the freshest, finest ingredients.
Red Truck Bakery—Marshall
Red Truck Bakery is a beloved rural bakery born in a farmhouse in Virginia’s Piedmont hunt country 50 miles west of Washington, D.C. Three classically-trained bakers work together to create great foods in the heart of Old Town Warrenton. The bakeries namesake is a cherry red 1954 Ford F-100 truck that came directly from designer Tommy Hilfiger’s Connecticut farm. The bakery is receiving praise from The New York Times, Esquire Magazine, Southern Living, & Washingtonian for their baked goods. Even the President, Barack Obama, requested seconds when he recently tried a pie from Red Truck Bakery.
Hill High Bakery—Berryville
The pies cranked out by this little bakery have traveled around the globe as gifts for diplomats, but it’s the local fans that return from miles away who give this humble operation its real notoriety. Along with their regular menu items, seasonal specialties such as the Strawberry-Rhubarb Custard Pie and tomato pies appear on the menu once they come into season in the area. The smiling faces reveal that both the service and the desserts make this bakery stand out as a favorite spot for the locals.
Stop by one of these Virginia bakeries today to indulge in one of the mouthwatering desserts that they have in store for you. Where do you like to go to satisfy your craving for a sweet treat in Virginia? Share your favorite bakeries in the comments below!