Hobbyist-turned-professional-baker Cindy’s pastel-hued cupcakes aren’t ready to eat until they’ve been topped with sprinkles. The cutesy creations embody the vibe at Sweet Mandy B’s, described by Centerstage Chicago as “the happiest, warmest, most delicious old-fashioned comfort shop in Chicago.”
Locally made butter. Nielsen Massey pure vanilla extract. Zingerman’s goat cheese. The cupcakes at Southport Grocery & Café come in simple flavors—red velvet, chocolate, vanilla—but these rich ingredients, according to CS Magazine, render them “big enough to share but addictive enough that you won’t want to.”
High demand for Flirty Cupcakes, which once operated exclusively out of a food truck, required the staff to open a permanent location. The University Village café, called the Dessert Garage, doles out the same oreo cupcake, banana-chocolate, and pineapple rum cupcakes as the baby-blue truck, which continues to circle the city on a weekly schedule.
Though their red velvet had a Chicago Magazine reviewer “waxing nostalgic about dessert tables in the Deep South,” Molly’s Cupcakes is not a one-trick pony. The staff churns out classic cupcakes alongside those that hide a tasty filling — such as mousse, Boston cream, and peach cobbler — in their center.
After spending years building a career in finance, Teresa Ging made a radical move — she spent eight months perfecting cupcake recipes, then opened Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique in 2007. Today, the shop features 21 flavors that rotate daily, including chocolate peppermint and orange creamsicle.
The creativity of the flavors on the Swirlz cupcake calendar—including pumpkin chocolate chip, brownie batter, taffy apple, cinnamon honey bun—might distract from the fact that almost half of them are gluten-free or vegan and gluten-free. Each is also topped with a two-tone tuft of the shop’s signature Italian butter cream frosting.
More’s slick glass-and-chrome shelving system makes Patty Rothman’s cupcakes look like the modern art that they are — according to The New York Times Style Magazine: “[her] cupcakes skew more Ferran Adría than June Cleaver.” Flavors have included foie gras sour cherry and twice-baked potato.
Though his cake designs have been featured on TLC’s “Amazing Cakes,” Alliance Bakery & Café’s pastry chef Peter Rios deserves equal recognition for what’s inside of his cupcakes. Indulgent fillings, such as a red-raspberry confit, salted caramel, and passionfruit, burst forth from five of his 15 flavors.
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Third-generation owner Norm Dinkel told the Redeye that he has nothing but confidence in Dinkel’s Bakery’s ability to compete with the city’s new crop of cupcakeries: “We’ve been making cupcakes since 1922.” Each cupcake comes with a generous dollop of frosting, and the bakery staff can customize designs for holidays or parties.
Skinnie Piggy’s cupcakes come in three sizes—hog, skinnie, or piglet. The menu juxtaposes classic flavors, including birthday cake and german chocolate, with seasonal selections such as the piña colada, a coconut-infused cake topped with pineapple-and-coconut buttercream.
Inside Lovely, customers perch on barstools, pore over computers, and catch up over lattes; this is exactly the welcoming vibe that owners Bob and Gina Hartwig had in mind before opening the shop. The menu features sandwiches and coffee, as well as four cupcake flavors: chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, and carrot.
Deal or no deal, our editors strongly recommend these businesses based on their reputation, popularity, and quality of service.