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is there a cupcake phenomenon in sf like in la?

okay, i go back and forth pretty often between the 2 areas and for some reason all the cupcake discussions have got me thinking.. is that la's latest and greatest trend??? i asked my friends, and they seem to think that the latest and greatest trend is the pinkberry phenomenon.. which i am more aware of myself..

does the bay have the same fascination with cupcakes? and if so, where would i find it here?!?!?! (not the city though 'cause its kinda of a hassle to get out there from where i am...)

mahalo =)

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  1. The short answer is "no" -- although there has been some upswing in the popularity of cupcakes, it's not as hot a "phenomenon" as in LA or NY. There was actually a discussion about the cupcake phenomenon on the General Topics board a while back: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/362545

    1. There is a place called Kara's Cupcakes in the Marina - I think on Steiner maybe - and now also in Ghirardelli Square. I haven't been to either as I don't share the fascination, but she must be doing well to open a second shop!

      1 Reply
      1. re: dinnerout

        Kara's Cupcakes is on Scott Street, between Chestnut and Lombard. Wonderful flavors, prime LOCAL ingredients. Their website is: www.karascupcakes.com.

      2. I think a lot of the appeal of cupcakes is portion control, hence their popularity in places like NYC (in Sex and the City, anyhow) and LA. Skinny people get to play with small pieces of pretty food. Unfair? Maybe.

        However, cupcakes do seem more popular here than a few years ago when they were basically kiddie food. There's a cupcake place on Bay Street in Emeryville, too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Glencora

          I'm in LA, and as a whole, I think the general SF population looks more fit than the general LA population. All those cupcakes and driving instead of walking. :)

        2. I have had 3 people in the past week tell me that I "HAVE TO TRY" teacake bake shop in Emeryville. Coincidence or the beginning of a phenomenon? The menu sounds delicious.


          1 Reply
          1. re: Fussy Foodie

            I think cupcakes are still a hot thing though maybe slightly on the wane in SF. Citizen Cupcake (an offshoot of Citizen Cake) opened near Union Square a couple of years ago, seemingly at the cusp of a cupcake revolution. I do like theirs a lot (excellent true buttercream frosting) and it's a cute place for lunch or a snack (top floor of Virgin mega-store). Also, Delessio Bakery makes these tiny ones that are really delicious. I like cupcakes but not because they're trendy. I think it's because I love old fashioned cake, yellow or devil's food and cupcakes are often the closest you get to that, albeit in smaller portions.

          2. read on yelp that you can get Red Velvet Cupcake from Marita Sweet Potato Pie Co for $2.25.

            Marita Sweet Potato Pie Co
            600 Dutton Ave # C
            San Leandro, CA 94577
            (510) 562-3844

            1. i was at noe valley bakery this morning (24th at castro) and there were eight or ten kinds of cupcakes for $2.25-$2.75 each. red velvet, mocha, peanut butter, lemon, coconut, chocolate, vanilla, and i forget what else. we may not have a fascination with them up here (i got an almond croissant), but someone must be buying them.

              1 Reply
              1. re: artemis

                Skip Noe Valley Bakery's cupcakes. Ugh. I tried the chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting, caramel filling, and fleur de sel sprinkled on top. I remembered a recent post on this (turned out to be rworange's post here <http://www.chowhound.com/topics/416878> on Kara's Cupcakes, which has an identical flavor). Noe Valley Bakery's cupcake was cold, so the frosting was so hard that it broke off in pieces and the cake was stale. The allegedly caramel filling had no caramel flavor. It was a total waste of my personal cupcake allowance.

              2. I don't think the Bay Area has the same obsession with the cupcake trend as NYC or even LA. But that said, there are an increasing number of bakeries that either specialize in cupcakes or are offering it.

                There are a few well known places: Kara's Cupcakes, Teacake Bake Shop, Citizen Cupcake, Delessio Market, etc. But with the execption of Sam Godfrey's cakes from Perfect Endings (which are special order anyway), I have yet to find an easily accessable cupcake that was out of this world.

                I also found this article from the Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                But besides Sarah Jessica making them popular a few years back, I think the portion control factor and the pretty little package of a generously frosted cupcake are hard to resist. And of course there's the nostalga factor.

                2 Replies
                1. re: VirgoBlue

                  Since one can buy a slice of cake anywhere, how important is the portion control? Perhaps it's the ability to buy something that looks cutely "just for me" and is easy to serve and dries out less quickly. Or maybe it's a fad.

                  1. re: lintygmom

                    I think it's more about nostalgia for us boomers. Also, unlike a piece of cake which you really need to eat with a fork, a cupcake is self-contained like a banana. You peel off the wrapper, eat and dispose of the wrap, pretty convenient!

                2. THANKS FOR ALL THE REPLIES ALL =)

                  funny how i own all the seasons of satc and LOVE the show, and yet i never really picked up on the whole cupcake thing... hahaha i'll have to rewatch all over again... =)

                  the red velvet cupcake sounds very intriguing.. as does the one in emeryville.. but parking over at bay is always a hassle if i remember correctly..

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: kinipela

                    Teacake Bake Shop in Emeryville is in the Bay Street shopping complex, so they have parking on site. However, it's $1 an hour. So there's no real parking hassles there.

                    1. re: VirgoBlue

                      how is teacake? i'm reluctant to try a bakery that's in a mall complex but if it's especially worth it maybe i'll give it a go. on the cupcake topic, someone told me there were some great cupcakes in the gourmet ghetto above a clothing store at shattuck/vine. i've looked when i've been in the area but don't seem to see anything bakery-esque aside from masse's. anyone have any tips?

                      1. re: linz

                        Teacake - my 1 time experience w/ the red velvet cupcake, skip it $3. Get the cookies instead $2 ea, read they sometimes have ugly cookies that are sold in a bag for cheaper but didn't see any on my visit. My report: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/40989...

                        The one in Berkeley in the gourmet ghetto is "Love at First Bite", nothing special either. Edit: other's like it: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/36497...

                        I'm hoping Kara'a Cupcake in SF, or Delessio's in SF are good -lots of chowhound reports on both. Both have websites.

                        1. re: hhc

                          Yes, my daughter was on a mission from God to try Love at First Bite--I can only assume this was at the beginning of the cupcake craze in SoCal where she lives. She and her boyfriend got several and said none had much taste.

                          1. re: linz

                            I love Teacake, they make my favorite cupcakes in the East Bay (though I haven't yet tried Love at First Bite). I like the cupcakes better than the cookies, the cookies are good but a little sweet for me.

                            1. re: JasmineG

                              I think Teacake was good in the beginning but lately they've been a bit inconsistent. I love Kara's cupcakes for the filling. Frosting and filling, how can you beat that!? I think Kara's shop is very similar to the "hot trend" that was written about in the LA Times about fancy boutique like cupcake shops. But I agree that Pinkberry is more the hot food trend in LA.

                              1. re: singleguychef

                                Loved Teacake on my first visit when I had their devil's food cake cupcake with dulce de leche frosting. Wasn't all that impressed with their vanilla and chocolate frosting cupcakes on my second visit.

                                1. re: katya

                                  I agree, they're good when they do interesting, unusual flavors. But they fall short in the regular vanilla and chocolate versions.

                            2. re: linz

                              I wasn't impressed with the cupcakes at Teacakes.. It also got an 'eh' from the East Bay Express. However, I love the cookies. I want to try the ice cream sandwich made out of

                              Similarily I haven't had good luck at Love at First Bite. There were a couple of reports that make me want to re-visit ... and a recent report about the other desserts they added like the banana pudding

                              1. re: rworange

                                I've found that it matters what you order at Tea Cake. I've had some very good items (dulce de leche cupcakie, pink velvet cupcake), but I've also had some pretty mediocre stuff (I can't remember specifics, but I know that many of the other "regular" cupcakes that my husband and I tried were just... eh. We've determined that the cupcakies are usually the way to go). Having said that, I find the cookies ok, but way to sweet for my taste, although I like the flavors in the Orange DaVinci (orange zest, hazelnuts, chocolate chunks).

                              2. re: linz

                                I liked the devils food at tea cake the skip the pink velvet

                              3. re: VirgoBlue

                                Parking at Bay St is $1 for 3 hours (and free if you stop into Barnes & Noble to have it validated). Best parking deal in the bay area if you ask me!

                            3. I dunno.. I think the cupcake phenomenon is pretty big here as well.. most already mentioned: Kara's (2 locations), Miette, Teacake, Citizen Cake, Love at First Bite, Sibby's, Noe Valley Bakery, Delessio, Marita's, and other bakeries that don't necessarily specialize, but I've had them at Boulangerie, Market Hall, Sweet Adeline... . Plus, they're showing up on dessert menus -- Two, Namu.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: calieskimo

                                Add Della Fattoria who sells both the big and small cupcakes.

                                1. re: calieskimo

                                  Just to clarify, Miette, Citizen Cake, Noe Valley Bakery and Delessio sell cupcakes as part of their larger product line -- they're not cupcake specialists like Kara's, Love at First Bite, etc. Bakeries selling cupcakes isn't a new thing. The "cupcake phenomenon" is something else; when interest rises to the "phenomenon" level is hard to judge. All I can say is that I haven't noticed an appreciable upswing the the interest in cupcakes among my acquaintances, nor is it a particularly hot topic on this board. It comes up periodically, but there certainly hasn't been an plethora of threads where a large number of people passionately discuss the merits of various cupcake purveyors (you're more likely to find such threads discussing BBQ pork buns, XLB (aka Shanghai soup dumplings), etc.).

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    No one's mentioned these yet, but I think that the cupcakes they sell at Belgano in Noe Valley (gelato & chocolate shop - 24th and Sanchez) are far superior to Kara's, Miette's and Teacake. Noe Valley Bakery's are just okay - I just had their vanilla frosting and it was awful. They should stick to just plain cake.

                                    Belgano's cupcakes come from Kookez Cafe, which is up the street and replaced Miss Millie's. Absolutely worth a try!

                                    Delessio's mini cupcakes are also excellent. They have some wonderful chocolate brownie cupcakes.

                                    1. re: mariamargarita

                                      It has also been noted another thread that if you buy the cupcakes directly from Kookez (rather than from Belgano), they are much cheaper.