City Sweets: Cupcakes of Chicago

Marino Castillo, contributing reporter

From celebrities to fashion, trends come and go in all different ways. The same applies to food and desserts. One rising trend in the food industry is the classic confectionery cupcake. Cupcakes have recently been receiving the celebrity treatment. They’ve been featured on TV shows and red carpets, and have been seen popping up in all major cities. Chicago is no exception; residents have seen cupcake shops springing up on all parts of the city. In a quest to find the most trendy and exclusive cupcakes Chicago has to offer, I visited several cupcake shops all over the city. From exotic flavors to colorful atmospheres, I found that there is more to a cupcake than just cake, frosting and a few sprinkles on top.

Phoebe’s Cupcakes, located at 3327 N. Broadway Street in the Lakeview area, offers the biggest and best variety of cupcakes, with over 200 flavors being displayed in one year. Year round cupcake staples include tuxedo, black and white, and peanut butter fudgy brownie. They have six or seven flavors that change weekly or biweekly, including Mexican hot chocolate, Rocky Road, strawberry Pop Rocks, as well as hundreds more. A signature cupcake they offer is their breakfast cupcake, which is a buttermilk cupcake, maple syrup frosting, topped with hot, crispy bacon. Phoebe’s cupcakes cost $2.75 each, with half a dozen running around $17 with tax, and a dozen is $30 with tax. Phoebe’s is a Chicago exclusive; you won’t enter Phoebe’s without finding a flavor you don’t love.

Molly’s Cupcakes is only a short drive away from Phoebe’s, located at 2536 N. Clark Street in the Lincoln Park area. Molly’s is becoming a well-known shop, recently being featured in the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” which they won. Molly’s offers regular cupcakes, but their best come in the form of filled cupcakes. Molly’s was voted by Chicago Magazine as having the best red velvet in the city. A regular cupcake costs $2, and all-filled cupcakes are $3.75. Molly’s restaurant was the best of the four shops I visited, offering swings as chairs and board games to play while enjoying their delicious cupcakes. Overall they provide a great atmosphere; perfect for work or play.

Sweet Mandy B’s, also in Lincoln Park, on 1208 W. Webster Avenue, offers cupcakes as well as many other sweets and delicious deserts. Their cupcakes are traditional with different options on a biweekly basis. Along with the cupcakes, the bakery’s other sweets are just as exceptional. The location itself is very colorful, and the people are just as cheerful as their colors. The cupcakes run a little less than $2, so they were the cheapest of all the shops I visited. Sweet Mandy B’s is definitely worth a visit when you need that sweet satisfaction.

Sprinkles, the most recognized cupcake bakery in the nation, is a shop down on 50 E. Walton Street, near the restaurant filled Rush Street. Sprinkles was the smallest shop visited, but the cupcakes were worth it; although I’d recommend heading there early to avoid any cupcakes that have been sitting for the day. Offering plenty of variety, Sprinkles creates each in a very neat and presentable manner. A cupcake will cost you $3.50, while a dozen is $39 without tax. Although the most expensive of the shops, a true cupcake connoisseur must try the originator of the cupcake craze in order to experience a delectable cupcake.