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.
Today, we’re focusing on Levain.
If you’ve never had a cookie from Levain, you may not have ever had a cookie, period. The bakery has developed a cult-like following with its somehow perpetually gooey, decadent, cookies whose deliciousness is rivaled only by their size. For a quarter of a century, co-founders Pamela Weekes and Constance McDonald have been delighting dessert lovers (and skeptics) alike with their baked goods, and while New Yorkers once had an exclusive claim on the bakery, the team has recently opened an outpost in DC. We chatted with the team to learn more about what brought them to the nation’s capital, and what else we can expect.
Photo by Kate Previte
BYT: There have been a slew of new bakeries opening in the DC area (much to our delight)! Can you speak to what inspired you to bring Levain to DC in this moment?
Pam and Connie: We’ve been thinking about expanding outside of New York for a while and we began looking around DC for the right neighborhood. When we finally found our current space in Georgetown we knew it was perfect and the right time for us.
BYT: Why did you choose DC as a second location?
P&C: DC is our 8th shop but our first outside of NY. We love the energy and the community of Georgetown. It has a great mix of locals, visitors, and students. It doesn’t hurt there’s also a good amount of brand awareness as well.
BYT: What distinguishes Levain from other bakeries?
P&C: We have always tried to have a curated selection of things we love to eat that aren’t necessarily available other places. We bake everything freshly daily and what we don’t sell, we donate – and we’ve done it this way for 25 years.
BYT: What offerings will DC residents be able to enjoy exclusively at this new location?
P&C: We are so excited to collaborate with DC chef Paola Velez on a special cookie, Cafe Con Leche, a limited edition cookie with proceeds going to Horton’s Kids. It will be on sale for a month. This is our first cookie collaboration and we were thrilled to be able to work with Paola – she’s such a creative talent but she also has a huge heart; she’s been an amazing friend to us and the bakery.
BYT: How (if at all) did the pandemic change opening plans?
P&C: The pandemic changed everything for everyone, we think, but we’ve been able to adjust. We had planned to open earlier this year, but everything takes longer now. We have to limit the number of customers in the shop at one time and we’re launching local delivery (via DoorDash and Caviar) as soon as we can!
BYT: What are the can’t miss items from your menu?
P&C: We are best known for our 6-ounce cookies which are perfect to share. Our classic chocolate chip walnut is always a best seller. We also love our oatmeal raisin scones, chocolate chip brioche, whole wheat raisin bread, ciabatta..we love everything! But, we suggest trying the Café Con Leche while it’s available!
Levain is located at 3131 M Street NW
Featured photo by Melissa Kirschenheiter