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Kara’s Cupcakes … kinda good actually … organic cupcakes & Flying Goat coffee

rworange Jan 28, 2007 08:23 AM

I like them. I think they are the best cupcake in San Francisco. I will be back.

I don’t know why … but the few negative comments about Kara’s on the board stuck in my mind and re-reading the thread below, I was surprised to see so many positive comments.

The staff is pleasant and there is a nice picture of the shop on the website (link at end). There’s also a close-up of the cupcakes on the menu page.

They are pricy but they have mini versions of all their cupcakes ($2). I like this from a calorie perspective. I can have my cupcake and not feel too guilty eating it. Regular sized-cupcakes are $3 … $3.25 filled.

If the product is good I have no problem paying for quality. I have no problem with the prices at Kara’s.

Looked at the site and my jaw dropped because there is a map with number on it. What’s this? Chain? Nope … just a list of the organic suppliers like Guistos Organic Flour.

I had:

Meyer Lemon
Perfect crumb vanilla cupcake … this is what I talk about when looking for the classic birthday cake. Nice and buttery without being overwhelming. Lovely light whipped lemon butter cream and dab of lemon curd filling.

Chocolate Velvet - chocolate cupcake with bittersweet buttercream that is covered with grated chocolate. It was a different crumb than the lemon but good.

The buttercream is that light type that is more like whipped cream. I usually like the denser version, but I really liked this frosting.

The organic Flying Goat coffee from Sonoma is brewed with a French press

They bake all day, replacing empty trays with just-baked trays. I was there at 4 pm and fresh cupcakes were still coming out of the kitchen. They are open until 10 pm on Friday & Saturday if you need a late-nite cupcake fix.

OK, the new avatars have made me lose my mind … I might as well throw in a ‘star’ rating … four out of five stars … they are a very satisfying cupcake … some of the best around … I’ll definitely try them all one at a time … but they don’t achieve that rare … whatever … that moves any food for me from very, very good to amazing … then again, I’ve only tried two. Amazing might be waiting in another flavor … maybe fleur de sel?

Previous Post:

Kara’s Cupcakes

3249 Scott St
San Francisco
(415) 563-2253

Closed Monday
10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
10 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

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  1. d
    david kaplan RE: rworange Jan 28, 2007 12:54 PM

    Any opinion about how they stack up against my current favorites, Delessio (SF) and Teacake Bakeshop (Emeryville)?

    3 Replies
    1. re: david kaplan
      Dave MP RE: david kaplan Feb 1, 2007 09:38 AM

      Which cupcakes are your favorites at Delessio? Maybe I'll get one today...

      1. re: Dave MP
        Dave MP RE: Dave MP Feb 1, 2007 09:42 AM

        Found this link from an earlier post. The Cappuccino one sounds good to me. I want it right now. I'm going to get it.

        Dave MP


        UPDATE: I went and got one. The cupcakes are very small, and I was a bit hesitant at first since all the other desserts are so tempting. When I bought the cupcake (chocolate brownie w/ cappuccino buttercream, marshmallow and a single coffee bean) I was even more dismayed because it felt very cold. However, all doubt was erased after the first bite.

        The brownie part was indeed cold, but still soft and chewy, and the buttercream and marshmallow were amazing. The cupcake cost me $1.50 which is a bit expensive perhaps, but the price is a good deterrent that will keep me from eating them too often. As I was walking back to the office, I was thinking about how rare it is to eat something so small yet so satisfying. It took me three bites to finish the cupcake, and even though it was so small, it still felt substantial. Thanks all for the tip...

        Dave MP

        P.S. Just now, they had about 8 different types of cupcakes

        1. re: Dave MP
          david kaplan RE: Dave MP Feb 1, 2007 03:05 PM

          I love the chocolate cupcake cake with malted vanilla frosting. They also make a gorgeous cake with that combination, which has replace Tartine's chocolate souffle cake as my regular gift dessert.

    2. rworange RE: rworange Jan 28, 2007 02:16 PM

      This is a tough one in terms of Delessio. I like Delessio maybe a tad more, but Delassio isn't a classic cupcake. It is a little work of art.

      I think Teacake is tasteless. Like the cookies though. Let's say they have the Teacake look ... but Kara's also has flavor..

      8 Replies
      1. re: rworange
        singleguychef RE: rworange Feb 1, 2007 09:29 AM

        I disagree Teacake is tasteless. I think it's just a matter of preference. For me, Teacake is great because the taste is subtle and not overly sugary. I'm not into major sweets so Teacake is perfect for me. I'm still waiting to try Kara's. Went once during the holidays and they were closed for the week! Ugh, what timing.

        1. re: singleguychef
          rworange RE: singleguychef Feb 1, 2007 10:31 AM

          Nice description. I may give them another try and evaluate them with that thought in mind. I had the cupcake opening day and wasn't tempted to order anything after that except the cookies ... which are nice to have during a movie. What is your favorite cupcake there?

          1. re: rworange
            singleguychef RE: rworange Feb 1, 2007 11:20 AM

            Were you asking about at Teacake? (I haven't tried Kara's yet.) At Teacake, I used to like this lemon ginger one they made, but I haven't seen it for awhile. I think they're just sticking with vanilla and chocolate versions. I also like their snickerdoodle. It's very comforting in a way because of its chewiness.

          2. re: singleguychef
            chaddict RE: singleguychef Feb 1, 2007 10:35 AM

            um, Kara's is pretty sweet. They even use "sugary sweet" when describing one of their cupcakes: http://www.karascupcakes.com/flavors....

            1. re: chaddict
              rworange RE: chaddict Feb 1, 2007 10:51 AM

              The cupcakes I tried didn't catch my attention as being overly sweet ... no more so than DeLassio's. However, for my personal tastes the only bakery that has some VERY sweet stuff ... though I love other items ... is Bakesale Betty's.

            2. re: singleguychef
              chemchef RE: singleguychef Feb 1, 2007 07:48 PM

              I can't stand Teacake b/c it is WAY TOO SWEET! I have had their cupcakes, cookies and brownie bites, and I think that they were all too sweet with not enough flavor. They were ok, but when I'm spending that much on baked goods, I think they should be exceptional.

              1. re: chemchef
                singleguychef RE: chemchef Feb 2, 2007 08:12 AM

                wow, funny. I guess everyone's tastes are really different.

                1. re: singleguychef
                  MollyGee RE: singleguychef Apr 19, 2007 06:49 PM

                  I absolutely adore the chocolate on chocolate cupcake at Teacake and agree that they are not too sweet (though the vanilla 'cakes were nothing special). I give them a huge plus for the perfect frosting with a perfect subtle saltiness to balance the flavor. I hate paying for cupcakes when homemade ones are, generally, so superior, but these are worth it to me.

          3. chaddict RE: rworange Feb 1, 2007 08:43 AM

            I tried Kara's yesterday. I had the Fleur de Sel (described as chocolate cake with caramel filling, chocolate ganache frosting and the salt sprinkled on top, $3.50) and the Java (chocolate cake with an espresso buttercream frosting, $3).

            I liked the Java: moist cake, light flavorful frosting. Well, what I got to try of it because I dropped it frosting side down. :(

            The Fleur de Sel was an utter disappointment. Neither I nor my friend who also ordered it could discern the filling. What we saw when we cut into it was a small cavity where I presume the filling was but it must have bled into the cake. Could not taste caramel. The ganache frosting was too much, it overpowered the cake. Maybe if you scrape off half of it. But the most disappointing was the salt. Maybe four grains (at most) on top, merely decorative with little taste interaction. You got one bite with the salt hit and then you are left with a plain old (overly rich due to the ganache) chocolate cupcake.

            I will still definitely go back and try more flavors. The Java was very good and the store is quite charming.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chaddict
              rworange RE: chaddict Feb 1, 2007 10:33 AM

              Yeah, there's not a lot of filling in these cupcakes.

            2. foodseek RE: rworange Feb 1, 2007 11:36 AM

              I love Kara's and go as often as I have a few calories to cheat with on my diet. My favorites are the Lemon and the Passion Fruit filled cake. I usually buy 6 and bring them home for dh. His favorite is the Java. What I love about the shop ,which displays the cakes like the jewels that they are , is that the manager and clerks care about your feedback and love hearing about your likes and dislikes. I too like Delassio's but Kara's variety of flavors draws me in every time.

              1. a
                alina555 RE: rworange Mar 3, 2007 04:32 PM

                Hmm, had Kara's cupcakes last weekend and tried out six different flavors. I haven't tried any of the other places mentioned in this thread, but I'm comparing these to Love at First Bite in Berkeley and Sibby's Cupcakes in San Mateo (as well as Sprinkles in LA) and these were the worst, hands down. Agreeing with comments in other threads, I found the cake and whipped frosting bland and tasteless. Filling (I tried passion fruit and lemon) was virtually non-existant. I had three other people give it a try and all three thought they were nothing special - definitely not worth the three dollar price tag. Everyone thought LAFB and Sibby's were fantastic - some even snuck some mini muffins home so their spouses could enjoy it. All four of us agreed to never go back to Kara's.

                Sounds like cupcake "tastes" are very different on this board, indeed!

                7 Replies
                1. re: alina555
                  rworange RE: alina555 Mar 3, 2007 11:58 PM

                  Guess so ... keeps lots of places in business.

                  For Kara fans, it looks like it will be opening another store in Ghiradelli Square.

                  1. re: alina555
                    Atomica RE: alina555 Mar 4, 2007 05:17 AM

                    I thought Love at First Bite was mediocre at best. Looks like it's time for another visit.

                    1. re: Atomica
                      rworange RE: Atomica Mar 4, 2007 08:20 AM

                      Good. alina's passion for Love at First Bite had me almost biting at revisiting. I'll await your report. I'll gratiously let you play Russian roulette with this one.

                      What are the better flavors at Love at First Bite, alina ... or any LAFB fans.

                      1. re: rworange
                        alina555 RE: rworange Mar 5, 2007 01:16 PM

                        I know I have sweeter taste buds than most (I love their strawberry), but most of my co-workers enjoyed the hummingbird, banana, and red velvet cake the best. (I've read mixed reviews on the red velvet, so maybe it's had off days? But I enjoy their red velvet better than Sprinkles, which is my favorite cake from them.) The vanilla is okay, and I didn't really care for their chocolate cupcake. They all have great (albeit sweet) cream cheese frosting, which is something I think Kara's can improve on.

                        1. re: alina555
                          rworange RE: alina555 Mar 5, 2007 02:57 PM

                          Thanks. I didn't find them too sweet. It has been a while, so if I'm in the area I'll give some of those a try.

                        2. re: rworange
                          chemchef RE: rworange Mar 5, 2007 06:20 PM

                          I loved the Hummingbird cupcake!

                          1. re: chemchef
                            rworange RE: chemchef Mar 5, 2007 07:29 PM

                            BTW, hummingbird cupcakes are NOT savory ... NO hummingbirds were harmed while making this cupcake ... "hummingbird - a delicious Southern cake with bananas, pineapple & pecans, topped with cream cheese frosting"

                            The LAFB menu

                    2. singleguychef RE: rworange Apr 3, 2007 09:55 PM

                      I finally got to try Kara's Cupcakes. I bought three: banana, passion fruit and meyer lemon. I have to say the passion fruit is my favorite, and the banana was not bad. It was interesting having a filled cupcakes, but they're slightly smaller than the regular unfilled cupcakes. I like how they have a lot of varieties. Most places just stick with vanilla and chocolate and then have a varieties of frostings. It's a nice place for a special occasion cupcake but I wouldn't go there on a regular basis. And it wasn't as sweet as I thought it might be. I may have to rescind my comment that Teacake in Emeryville is not as sweet as Kara because now I think Kara is not as sweet as Teacake. But Teacake is closer to me.

                      Below are some photos of the cupcakes at the store, and more here: http://singleguychef.blogspot.com/200...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: singleguychef
                        rln RE: singleguychef Jan 9, 2008 06:19 PM

                        I brought a dozen Kara cupcakes to a birthday dinner party this past weekend and included a passion fruit one in the mix so I could try it. My lucky/smart friend who chose this one liked it a lot, as did I. The lemon one was also a hit as were the variety of chocolate ones I brought. There were eight at the dinner, 12 cupcakes and the one coconut-vanilla cupcake I included in the mix was left on the plate, a carrot, and lemon one. I learned that chocolate seems to always be a favorite.

                      2. l
                        lj2899 RE: rworange Apr 4, 2007 10:22 AM

                        i love a good cupcake, but i felt for the money, i made a better batch at home. we tried the passion fruit, one of the chocolate, the banana caramel and something else forgettable. the banana caramel was pretty good...the only one of the 4 we tried where i liked both the cake and the frosting. i personally was disappointed with the buttercream frostings and felt some of the cakes were a tad dry...not to mention that i completely agree that they were extremely conservative with the filling...too conservative. anyhow...rather than going back, i'd rather opt for a slice of cake elsewhere...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: lj2899
                          singleguychef RE: lj2899 Apr 4, 2007 12:00 PM

                          I think you're right that the banana caramel is good because when I got there pretty early, they were already almost out of it. So it looks like it's pretty popular. I think the cream filling cupcakes are good but too small. You're right on the frosting. It was just OK.

                        2. chaddict RE: rworange Apr 19, 2007 06:25 PM

                          Okey dokey, I tried the Meyer lemon filled cupcake today. Guess what? There was filling! Quite a bit! And it was tasty lemon curd! Maybe they listened to us...

                          I really enjoyed the the lemony flavor and I, for one, liked the light, whipped frosting...not too sweet at all. While I liked the cake itself just fine, it did start to implode on itself so that the last few bites were difficult. Next up, raspberry!

                          Now, if you'll excuse me, I must hop over to Craig's List to post rant on the seeming inability of Bay Area drivers to master the art of the four-way stop sign!

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