All words by Elsie Yang
Fast, delicious, carbacious offerings are getting a major upgrade in the DC area thanks to a flurry of new cafes and bakeries that have opened in the recent weeks. We’ve chatted with the teams behind some of our favorite new spots to learn more about what has catalyzed this delightful new influx of eateries, and what can’t-miss options they’re offering.
It’s not often that film producers become pastry chefs, and it’s also not common that a bakery becomes a lifestyle. Tzurit Or and Tatte, however, are anything but common, and the goods that this Israeli-born, European-inspired entrepreneur and resulting cafe offer are some of the most distinctive and delightful you’ll ever come across. While Tatte has long been a crucial part of the Boston bakery scene, it’s never left its hometown…until now. With a new location in the West End, Tatte’s first non-Boston location is now open in DC, and it’s serving up all the halva bombs and Jerusalem bagels you can get your hands on.
BYT: First and foremost, please set the record straight — is it Tatte like lot or Tatte like latte?
Tzurit Or: That’s one of the most common questions we get, actually, and we’ve recently started printing on our coffee cups that it’s Tatte like latte!
BYT: Now that that’s out of the way, can you speak to what inspired you to bring Tatte to DC in this moment?
TO: I started my journey of getting to know DC almost four years ago. Boston is our home base, but I fell in love with DC when I would walk the streets and get to know the many amazing neighborhoods and the very international food scene. I really believe that you have to do the literal legwork and get to know a place before making a decision about opening a restaurant in a new city — you have to consider if the city and the neighborhood is one that can welcome and understand and hug the brand. Because DC is so international, I felt that customers would understand our food, our pastries, and our ethos. It’s meaningful for me to be able to build relationships and partnerships with the community here.
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DC! Whoa so much love! Opening a new location during a pandemic is strange (and hard) enough, doing it in a new market outside of our home market is scary… we were not sure what to expect… At 6:55am a line formed outside our doors and it didn’t stop all day long. Your love, massive support, many messages, emails, beautiful pictures and stories, watching how you share Tatte with your family, friends and the neighborhood filled our hearts. Thank you! We are so grateful ❤️ Team Tatte, wow! What a day, we were on a cloud all day. So much love. We did it! THANK YOU! 🙌🏻🙏🏻👊🏻 Thank you DC and the West End neighborhood, we will see you tomorrow bright and early, we tripled our bakery and kitchen pars so we are ready 🤞🏻🙏🏻👊🏻🙌🏻❤️ massive love! #tattedc #dayone #dc #grateful #teamtatteyouaretheverybest #thankyou #washingtondc #letsdoitagain #tattebakery #biglove #❤️ stunning pictures @thetangledtomato thank you!
BYT: How did the pandemic change opening plans?
TO: Originally, we were supposed to open in March, and then it was delayed to May, and finally to August. Because many of our locations in Boston are located near universities, we’re used to Tatte being a home base for parents moving their kids into college; when we pushed our opening date to August, we hoped to be able to capture some of that move-in day energy.
Beyond that, however, it’s difficult to open a community-centric bakery like Tatte during the pandemic. We’re so used to having folks come in for breakfast and stay for the day, doing work, chatting with friends, or otherwise enjoying our space. We’re very intentional about designing our cafes as spaces where you could truly stay all day. Unfortunately, that’s not an option for diners in this moment, but we still want to capture that sense of welcome and hospitality. Even though we can’t have diners stay all day, they’re able to enjoy our menu on the patio, and we also strive to make even the five-minute interaction with our staff as delightful as possible.
BYT: Tatte blends such fascinating flavors from across the world – can you speak more to the inspiration behind this truly international bakery?
TO: Before I moved to the U.S. about 16 years ago, I was a film producer and a creative. I grew up in a kibbutz, and had a pretty international upbringing. I was exposed to so many different cultures and cuisines, and that made me very curious about food and pastry and design and aesthetics. I’ve brought all of those elements to Tatte.
As a child, we would plant, grow, and harvest everything we ate. This very much affected my approach to ingredients—I am always looking for ingredients that speak to me. When I started Tatte, I was just creating the food that I used to eat and bake with my mother as a child. There isn’t a single menu item that doesn’t have a story associated with it; it can be an element of my childhood, a moment from travel, or just a fond memory. In the last several years, the menu has expanded to include creative ideas from the baking staff at Tatte. We do things that inspire us or things that we just love to eat and believe will provide both comfort and inspiration to guests. I fundamentally believe that you have to enjoy every moment of your meal, whether it’s a shakshuka or a pastry. Otherwise, the meal won’t end up on the menu.
BYT: Are you offering any DC-specific menu items at the West End Tatte?
TO: I’m emotionally attached to food, and so when I visit a restaurant, I’ll get the same thing over and over again. Because so many of our guests are familiar with Tatte from Boston, I wanted to open our doors and give folks a familiar experience—something they knew and were expecting. So for the time being, our menu is identical to our other locations. That said, we are always listening to customers, and if they’re asking for something different, we’ll certainly begin to adjust our menu to reflect their wants and needs.
BYT: What are the can’t miss items from your menu?
TO: I love everything so this is always a difficult question for me. That said, the Jerusalem bagel is a favorite—I tested the recipe multiple times in my home kitchen before bringing it to Tatte. Our cheesecake is so fluffy and light, and one of the cheeses in it comes from Israel. I also love our pear pie, our French toast, and our Greek pancakes. And of course, you have to get a breakfast sandwich on a croissant.
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Ham + cheese egg in a hole in a JB! We make this bagel daily and you can enjoy it as is or as a egg in a hole with or w/out ham+cheese #brunchallday #egginahole #jerusalembagel #brunch #breakfast #food #hamandcheese #weekend #sunday #tattebakery #boston #dc pic @courtperkins ☕️🥐🍳🧀🥓🥞🧈🥖🍞🥑
Tatte is located at 1200 New Hampshire Ave NW
Featured images via Tatte’s Instagram