Chicago may be known for all things savory, but the city has a sweet tooth, too. Just ask any Chicago bakery owner, and they’ll advise you: save room for baked goods! After all, you’ll need a long walk after indulging in local favorites like Italian beef, a Chicago dog, or a slice of deep dish . . . so you might as well slowly wander on over to a nearby bakery and continue the culinary adventures. The following three never fail to satisfy.
Sweet Mandy B’s and Sugar Fixe
Sweet Mandy B’s is a Lincoln Park institution. The chic pastel colors and old-fashioned flair welcome you upon arrival, but it’s the award-winning cupcakes that encourage you to stay. Traditional flavors like carrot cake taste even better, thanks to a heap of indulgent cream cheese frosting. If cupcakes aren’t your thing, try an assortment of baked goods—including cookies, cakes, scones, and more—there’s something for everyone. The popular Chicago bakery often has long lines filled with families and super fans, especially on Saturday afternoons. You may feel too overwhelmed to place an order, but don’t worry—the charming café seating ensures you can leisurely consume your treats.
If you haven’t satisfied your sweet tooth, walk on over to Armitage, the main shopping street of Lincoln Park, and make a delicious stop at the aptly named Sugar Fixe. The patisserie’s authentic French macaroons are perfectly chewy, and they’ll even wrap some up to go if you can’t stomach any more treats just yet.
Alliance Patisserie and Alliance Bakery
Alliance Patisserie is an upscale upgrade of a neighborhood favorite. The River North location is the sister café to a Chicago bakery with very limited seating in Wicker Park known for its incredibly creative cake decorating and delicious assortment of baked goods. (Alliance Bakery is worth a stop too, if you get a chance, especially for breakfast pastries.) But for those looking for sweets, head downtown.
When you step into Alliance Patisserie, you feel like you’ve been transported to a European boutique, and visions of Paris may dance through your head. It’s a quiet respite from the busy bustle of downtown. Try the balsamic fig macarons, the mango coconut éclairs, or a cup of hot chocolate—or all three—and relax in the light-filled seating area that overlooks a picturesque ivy-filled courtyard.
Mindy’s HotChocolate is exactly what it sounds like—and so much more. The Bucktown “dessert bar” is a full-blown restaurant, but it might be the best-known Chicago bakery. While the food is great, don’t get sidetracked—you’re here for the baked goods. As you can imagine, chocolate lovers won’t be disappointed.
Take a seat at the bar and begin with an incredibly rich mug of artisan hot chocolate. There’s a variety to choose from, including peppermint, Mexican, chai, and “affogato.” Chef and author Mindy Segal is a James Beard award-winning pastry chef, so move on to the dessert menu, which changes seasonally. Choose from donuts, cookies, cake, and more—and don’t be afraid to order something a little unusual. Her desserts are plated beautifully and always taste as good as they look.
Hungry anymore? Of course not. Now it’s time to take a leisurely walk back to your hotel . . . and head to bed.