Foodbuzz 24-24-24: Boston Cupcake Crawl
Since most of my friends are aware of my love of all things cupcake (check out all the cupcakes I’ve made in the past two years), I often get asked for recommendations on cupcake bakeries in the Boston area. I always feel a bit ashamed to have to admit I’ve only ever eaten one bakery bought cupcake in Boston.
So yesterday I set out to try some more cupcakes here in Boston. On the Boston Cupcake Crawl, some friends and I visited 5 cupcake bakeries in Boston that are accessible via the T. I even made an interactive Google Map to map out where we were going.
View Boston Cupcake Crawl in a larger map
Each person on the Cupcake Crawl filled out a scorecard for each bakery. Everyone rated the bakeries based on cupcake flavor, frosting flavor, cupcake the frosting ratio and other key cupcake parameters.
We started at 1:00 in the afternoon on one of the first hot summer days of the year. (Although they had been forecasting rain, so we were all glad it wasn’t raining). I decided we’d start at Party Favors mostly because Hubby and I live near there, so it’d be easier for us to get there on time (if you know us in real life, you know we’re rarely on time…) Once the cupcake crawlers arrived, I explained how the day would work and we headed inside.
Party Favors has that distinct “I just walked into a bakery” smell, aka you get hit with the smell of sugar from the second you open the door. This place is part bakery, part candy store, part party store, and part baking supply store. I have to admit that I’ve taken quite a few trips to the basement where the have their bakery supplies. It’s one of my happy places. The bakery display cases showcase a variety of cupcakes, cakes, candies, and cookies.
Party Favors has a variety of cupcake sizes including mini, regular, jumbo, and grande. Although if you want anything other than vanilla or chocolate, you’ll need to be getting a grande cupcake. The grande cupcakes are large enough to split and in fact, that’s exactly what Hubby and I did for my birthday a couple years ago. That grande cupcake (I think it was chocolate and raspberry) was the only bakery cupcake I had ever had in Boston prior to the Cupcake Crawl. There is no indoor seating at Party Favors, so once we got the cupcakes, we went across the street to a little park area where we could sit in the shade.
Here are the stats on Party Favors –
1356 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446, (617) 566-3330 www.partyfavorsbrookline.com
Hours: M-F 9:30am-7pm, Sat 9:30am-5pm, Closed Sun
Prices Cupcakes range from $0.85 for a mini to $4.25 for a grande.
Cupcakes tasted: Grande Carrot Cake, Grande Oreo, Grande Key Lime, Regular Chocolate-chocolate, Chocolate-vanilla, Vanilla-vanilla
Based on the scorecards, most of us thought the frosting was too sweet. It had a very sugary aftertaste. If you like carrot cake, the Party Favors carrot cake had a perfect amount of spice/carrot flavor. The bakery was very crowded while we were there, but the staff was very informative and helpful. Some of the cupcake crawlers thought the cake was too cold and it might have been better at room temperature. Party Favors had some creatively decorated cupcakes (and cakes) in the chocolate and vanilla regular sized cupcakes. The best cupcake we ate there was the Key Lime Cupcake. A quote from the scorecards “Sugar buzz already starting!”
Once we had made a decent dent in the cupcakes, we headed over to the Coolidge Corner T stop to head off to Sweet. Since most of us had sticky fingers from eating cupcakes with our hands, Hubby made a pitstop in a drug store to grab some wetnaps. I had planned ahead enough to make the goodie bags, pack sunscreen and TUMS, but I forgot about the post-cupcake-eating-sticky-finger phenomenom. That pitstop turned out to be a great decision for the day. We got out of the T at the Hynes Convention Center stop and headed up Mass Ave towards Sweet.
When we got there, we were gushing over the cuteness of the cupcake bakery. If you go to Sweet, you know you’re going to get a cupcake. The bakery was small with just one big display case full of cupcakes and a nice banquette seating area in front near the huge window. I didn’t even see the menu posted on the wall, I just scanned the flavors seen in the display case (flavors vary depending on the day). Sweet also has a few mini cupcake flavors and frosting shots for true frosting lovers. Before any of us could realize what was happening, the place filled up. The people who came in behind us were smart and snagged up all the seating. We got our cupcakes and headed out to the Comm Ave mall to eat them on some park benches. We were sitting next to a couple who was very intrigued by what we were doing.
Here are the stats on Sweet –
49 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02115, (617) 247-2253 www.sweetcupcakes.com
Hours: M-T 11am-7pm, W-Sat 11am-9pm, Sun 12pm-7pm
Price: $1.95 for a mini cupcake, $3.25 for a regular cupcake, with discounts when you buy as few as 4 in a pack.
Cupcakes tasted: Caramel Macchiatto, Pink Lemonade, Boston Creme Pie, Strawberry Shortcake, Dark Chocolate Chocolate, Red Velvet
Based on the scorecards, most of the cupcake crawlers thought these cupcakes had too much frosting on them. The chocolate cake itself was good, but the chocolate frosting was a bit underwhelming. Everyone agreed that the selection was great but that some (but not all) of the cupcakes were a bit dry. The Boston Creme Pie cupcake was the best of all the Boston Creme Pie cupcakes we tasted yesterday and the favorite from Sweet. A quote from the scorecards “Need to grab tables before customers behind you in line do”.
Once we finished up, we decided to take a detour to Johnny Cupcakes. We figured it was fitting. In case you don’t know, Johnny Cupcakes doesn’t sell cupcakes, they sell tshirts. Very cute ones at that. All of the clothing is displayed in bakery display cases. While we were casually shopping around, Hubby pointed out the time. We needed to hit the road ASAP to make it to Babycakes in Quincy before they closed. We headed out before anyone had a chance to buy anything (and before I had a chance to snap any photos) and headed over to the Copley T stop. We met up with two more cupcake crawlers as well, so our group had grown to 9. While we were walking to the T, I called Babycakes and explained that a group of 10 of us were coming (another crawler was meeting us there) to see if we’d have enough time to get there. It was about 3:10 at the time. The employee I spoke to on the phone was very nice and said we would be fine. She also asked if I wanted her to set aside some cupcakes for us. I asked her to set aside 6 of her most highly recommended favorites for us.
If you know anything about taking the T in Boston, you know that it’s always hard to predict how long it’s going to take you to get somewhere. Especially if you have to change lines. We made it to Park St in great time, but that’s where we had to wait for a Red line train. This took about 20+ minutes. So of course we were all a bit panicked that we wouldn’t make it in time. Once we got above ground, I called Babycakes again to let them know we were still coming and that we’d be there a few minutes late. Luckily the tenth cupcake crawler got there ahead of us.
We got off the T at the Wollaston stop and headed (in the wrong direction at first) up the street towards Babycakes. We knew from the minute we got off the T that we weren’t in Boston anymore. The hustle and bustle of the city was no where to be found. Babycakes was a few blocks down and we could see the flag flying outside long before we reached the bakery.
Once we got there, it was almost 4:10. The owner/baker was very kind and told us about the cupcakes they had set aside for us. We felt bad for coming so late and the owner/baker kept saying she had a wedding cake to deliver, so we got the hint that there wasn’t much time for chit-chat. The bakery itself was very cute and I have no idea if they sell anything other than cupcakes because everything was cleaned up for closing. All they had out was a tray of the cupcakes. In all honesty, I can’t even remember if they had any indoor seating because we were rushing to get out of their hair. Apparently there is a beach back down the road past the T stop where you could enjoy an afternoon of cupcake eating. We opted to head back into Boston and eat our cupcakes in the Common (got off at the Park St stop).
Here are the stats on Babycakes –
163 Beale Street, Quincy, MA 02269, (617) 773-4458 www.babycakesshop.net
Hours: T-F 10am-6pm, Sat 9am-4pm, Sun pickup Only, Closed Mon
Price: Cupcakes range from $1.75-$2.25
Cupcakes tasted: Boston Creme Pie, Snowball, Strawberry Shortcake, German Chocolate, Babycakes signature cupcake, Chocolate Raspberry, (and not pictured) Red Velvet, and Lemon Coconut
Based on the scorecards, everyone loved the chocolate cupcakes here. The majority of the cupcakes we had were filled which is always a fun surprise. We all agreed that this bakery is off the beaten path, but worth the effort. If you like chocolate, the chocolate cake and ganache here are amazing. If you’re a German chocolate cake purest, you’ll probably think the cake in that cupcake is too dark. The lemon coconut cupcake (filled with lemon curd and topped with coconut frosting) was a favorite of the entire day. A quote from the scorecards “Strawberry shortcake was amazing. Tasted just like real strawberry shortcake”.
Once we finished up, we could have jumped back on the T to head over to the North End, but we all agreed that a nice walk was in order. Being 3 bakeries in, we were all feeling the sugar. We took our time, so the walk over took about 15 minutes. It was a great opportunity to get to know the various cupcake crawlers. We had a pretty random collection of people on the crawl. There was Hubby and I (obviously). Then there was a friend of mine who I met online but haven’t been in touch with in a while. She brought her Hubby and baby girl (who was an angel and adorable). A coworker of mine (a fellow baking enthusist) and a friend of hers also joined us. Another couple who Hubby and I hang out with regularly came along. We just had homemade pasta, tomato sauce, and ice cream at their house on Thursday night. It was awesome! Then there was a friend’s wife’s friend who was the only cupcake crawl veteran of the day. Last but not least, we had a cupcake celebrity join us who happened to be in town for the weekend. I love that cupcakes brought this random group of people together.
Anyways, back to the cupcakes. We arrived in the North End and headed to Lyndell’s. It’s in the location that used to be called Lulu’s. When I was organizing this cupcake crawl, I couldn’t find a website for Lulu’s, so I called to get their hours. The girl on the phone explained that Lulu’s had gone under and Lyndell’s decided to expand to the North End (they have a location in Cambridge). She also explained that they had kept many of the bakers and some of the recipes from when it was Lulu’s.
Like most places in the North End, Lyndell’s is pretty small inside and felt a bit crowded with all of us in there. They sell a variety of baked goods and only a few cupcakes. I think we ended up getting one of each of their flavor offerings. We grabbed our cupcakes and again since there was no indoor seating, headed outside. At this point it was about 5:00 so the day was starting to cool off. We headed over to the Rose Kennedy Greenway to enjoy our cupcakes. It’s always so fun to watch all the little kids playing in the fountains there. We joked about Hubby stripping down to his underwear to run through the fountain like a little 4 year old boy had done. A couple of the cupcake crawlers grabbed some non-cupcake food at this point too. That was probably a really good idea that Hubby and I didn’t partake in…
Here are the stats on Lyndell’s Bakery –
227 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02113, (617) 720-2200 www.lyndells.com
Hours: M-Th 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 10am-11pm
Price: Cupcakes range from $1.75-$2.25
Cupcakes tasted: Vanilla-chocolate, Vanilla-vanilla, Lyndell’s signature cupcakes, Chocolate-chocolate, Creamsicle, Oreo, Red Velvet, Peanut Butter
Based on the scorecards, these cupcakes were a bit dry, but everyone enjoyed the size of the cupcake. Again, if you’re a chocolate fan, the chocolate frosting here is very chocolatey and smooth. We loved that these cupcakes were an inexepensive dessert option in the North End. The favorite cupcake here was the creamsicle mostly due to the flavor in the frosting. A quote from the scorecards “Hands down the best chocolate frosting ever”.
The group of 10 headed over to the Haymarket T stop to make our way to our last bakery. I’m not sure where the time went, but it was already 7:00. We were all shocked at how late it was, but we kept going. The train ride to Davis square takes a bit of time. We caught the Orange line and again had to change over to the Red line. Once we arrived in Davis Square, the day had started turning into a pleasant summer evening in Boston. Davis Square has a lot going on, especially on a Saturday night, so there were people all over the place.
We headed the couple blocks over to KickAss Cupcakes. This is another bakery where you know you’re going to be eating cupcakes. They have all their cupcakes on baking racks behind plastic. It’s great because you can see all the cupcakes right there in front of you. Behind the baking racks, there was a girl decorating some cupcakes and answering questions for us. We were all a little burnt out from eating cupcakes all day, but we wanted to be fair to KickAss so we kept right on eating cupcakes.
While the bakery itself didn’t have any indoor seating, there was a bench and some tables outside. KickAss has a large variety of flavors including some of the most creative flavors we saw all day (and some alcholic beverage inspired cupcakes!) KickAss also had one vegan and gluten free cupcake on the menu. Being lactose intolerant, it was refreshing to see this! I asked about those specialty diet cupcakes and they said they have one each day, flavors vary from day to day.
Here are the stats on KickAss Cupcakes –
378 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02144, (617) 628-2877 http://www.kickasscupcakes.com/
Hours: M-W 11am-7pm, Th 11am-8pm, Fri 11am-10pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12pm-6pm
Price: Cupcakes are $2.75
Cupcakes tasted: Vanilla-vanilla, Chocolate-chocolate, Vegan Ginger Peach Bellini, Margarita, Mojito, Green Monster
Based on the scorecards, everyone appreciated the variety and creativity of the flavors here. The cupcake crawlers agreed that the mojito cupcake didn’t have much of a mint flavor. KickAss puts almost the perfect amount of frosting on their cupcakes, most of the crawlers rated their cupcake to frosting ratio as good. The Vegan Ginger Peach Bellini cupcake was the favorite cupcake we tasted here. A quote from
the scorards one of the cupcake crawlers “It [the Green Monster cupcake] is like having a really good chocolate cupcake in an alley behind Fenway park after a game”.
The group hung out outside KickAss for quite some time enjoying the great Boston evening, popping TUMS to counter the sugary stomach aches, and recounting the day of cupcake eating.
We all had a great time eating cupcakes all day and in the end, you can’t go wrong with any of these bakeries in Boston. The overall consensus was that if you had the time to make it to Quincy, head to Babycakes, especially if you love chocolate cake. If you can’t make it to Quincy, or if you need to grab cupcakes while you’re out doing other things, head to KickAss Cupcakes in Somerville. The variety and creativity of flavors there is unmatched in Boston.
If you’d like to know the actual scores from the day, I averaged everyone’s ratings. I just averaged all the categories together into one final score. As a reminder, the categories for scoring were Overall Flavor, Moistness, Cupcake to Frosting Ratio, and Frosting Flavor. Everyone scored each bakery on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the best. With that, here are the results:
BabyCakes – 4.6
KickAss – 4.4
Sweet – 3.6
Lyndell’s – 3.5
Party Favors – 3.2
Be sure to check out my Flickr collection for all of the photos I took yesterday.