I live in Seattle and have been a blog follower since you started. My daughter just moved to Philadelphia and I am visiting her in two weeks. Please you suggest some bakery "musts", cupcakes included, for us to visit.
Coast to Coast Sweets-Chaser
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dear Coast to Coast,
First, let me commend you on your fantastic choice in website reading. CakeSpy rules! And so nice to hear from a reader who lives in the city I lived during many of the CakeSpy Years--Seattle--and is soon to visit the city I currently in which I currently reside, Philadelphia.
Now, I don't like to give blanket suggestions, and if you were a buddy calling me on the phone, I would probably follow up with "well, where are you staying?" so that I could personalize my suggestions based on places you could reasonably get to. But assuming you're staying in the Center City area, and probably not staying too long, let me say that if you were MY guest, I'd probably take you to these places.
Even if you were only here for 2 hours, I would make sure to take you to the Reading Terminal Market. Preferably between Wednesday and Saturday, because on those magical days, the Amish vendors are present. The Reading Terminal market is Philadelphia's equivalent to the Pike Place Market, but it's housed in the former terminus of the Reading Terminal Railroad. There are foods aplenty to enjoy there, but since we are talking dessert, I'd focus on showing you:
Bassets Ice Cream, which has been doing it since 1861 and doing it well.
Miller's Twist, where they also have ice cream and can serve it to you in a Pretzel cone.
Beiler's Bakery, an Amish bakery where they wrap baked goods in plastic wrap like supermarket meat for some reason, but golly-me do I enjoy the Snickerdoodle Whoopie Pies. I would whizz right by the classic whoopies and go straight for the snickerdoodle. If you've never tried Shoofly pie, this wouldn't be a bad place to do it.
If you're there in the 4 o'clock hour or so, I'd take you to Famous Fourth Street Cookies, where at the end of the day the cookies are a dollar each. That is a steal, but other times of day they charge by the pound so you can be adding up a hefty bill.
If we had even more time, I'd take you by Termini Brothers Bakery for a cannoli and to Metropolitan Bakery for just about anything. Oh, and across from Metropolitan Bakery is a chocolate/candy counter where you can try a Wilbur Bud, which some say was the inspiration for the Hershey's Kiss.
Next, I'd once again ask what part of town you're going to be staying in. If you're staying in Old City, I vote that you simply must go to:
Franklin Fountain, an old timey ice cream spot and the next-door candy store, Shane Confectionery.
Tartes, AKA The cutest petite pink bakery ever; a walk-up window only, but very nice cookies and tarts.
Tiffany's Bakery, which is a great bakery in an unlikely location--a mall food court.
Wedge + Fig, for a fantastic grilled cheese and a cheese tart for dessert!
If you're further up, number-wise, in the street numbers in Center City (12th Street and up), I say that you simply must visit:
Brown Betty Dessert Boutique: They have a mini-location here, because you're probably not going to find yourself in the neighborhood where their main location is. Try the sweet potato cake!
Cake and the Beanstalk, for a homey and casual bakery spot owned by a dude who knows his baking--he was a pastry chef in a number of fancy restaurants before opening this cute place, which has the catch phrase "Fee fi fo YUM"! Though not a bakery, pop into Garces Trading Co. across the street too.
Capogiro Gelato: DO IT! One of my absolute favorites.
DiBruno Brothers, which is a gourmet food store but has a lot of sweet treats from various good bakeries in the city, and a case which is nom-worthy to gaze upon.
Federal Donuts, for donuts fried to order, and a tasty new location in the center city area!
Philly Cupcake Company, for very good cupcakes in a nice variety of flavors.
Scoop DeVille, for custom-made soft-serve including the mix-ins of your choice.
Swiss Haus Bakery, for some nice pastries and cakes.
You might not wander southward, but if you do, I also suggest:
Isgro Pasticceria, for a pricey but fun Italian bakery experience--try a cannoli!
Morning Glory Diner, for their delicious biscuits (not necessarily sweet but I will suggest it).
There are a ton more bakeries, of course. I do not mean at all for this to be a comprehensive list. But, the ones listed above are very easily visited alongside with the Liberty Bell and all of the popular Philadelphia attractions, so they're the ones I am going to suggest for your first visit! Feel free to check out the Philadelphia tag to see more bakeries I've visited, of course.
Oh! And a regional specialty you'll see around at this time of year in Philadelphia: Irish Potatoes!