Savor flavors created by the hardworking women who make DC’s food and drink scene sparkle.
The nation’s capital has ascended to a world-class dining destination rife with crowded food halls and buzzing pop-ups thanks to enterprising women restaurateurs, chefs and café owners. Going beyond sugar and spice and everything nice, women-owned bakeries, cafes, distilleries, restaurants and bars feature innovative flavors and empowering stories.
From the oak-fired hearth at award-winning restaurant Maydan to a lineup of scrumptious cakepops from Baked by Yael, the landscape of epicurean adventure couldn’t be more intoxicating. Celebrate women in DC by bringing a hearty appetite and unquenchable thirst to the city, where there’s lots to enjoy any time of day.
Bakeries and Cafes
Sticky Fingers offers 100% vegan baked goods by Doron Petersan, whose dietetics degree aligns with a determination to create treats free of animal products for everyone. That personal passion carried her from her kitchen in 1999 to being a two-time Food Network Cupcake Wars champion. Whether you’re vegan or not, it really doesn’t matter; the bakery simply deals in deliciousness. Plus, Sticky Fingers Diner dishes out plant-based comfort foods.
In the heart of Georgetown, Olivia Macaron is the sweet dream of Ana Claudia Lopez. After navigating a career in finance during tough times, the birth of her daughter Olivia and a gift of French macarons, Ana's entrepreneurial flame burned brightly to fill DC’s void of the delicate confections. Discover rows of colors and flavors created to bring joy, love and celebration with every bite.
Sunyatta Amen learned the medicinal value of teas, foods and spices from all over the world while growing up and working at her parents’ health food shop and juice bar in New York City. Now Amen, who has stated a commitment to creating jobs and encouraging wellness in her community, offers 100 tea and coffee blends across her Brookland storefront and online marketplace. You can also purchase aromatic tonics, baked vegan treats, kombucha and much more.
Baked by Yael
Yael Krigman’s career path did not begin on the trajectory of opening DC’s first “cakepoppery.” The owner of Baked by Yael began baking to distract herself from the bar exam and after eight years at a corporate law firm, Krigman decided to leave and pursue baking full-time. Baked by Yael is a nut-free and kosher bakery, which not only serves show-stopping cakepops, but also has some of DC’s best bagels. The café regularly contributes to various causes and donates unsold bagels and other baked goods to Food Rescue USA.
Michelle Brown and Linda Neuman opened the first Teaism location in Dupont Circle in 1996 with the goal of creating a new appreciation for the diversity of delicate tea leaves. Teaism’s expansive drink menu – with fragrant black, white, green, oolong, chai and tisane blends – and Asian-inspired food menu (think: bento boxes with grilled salmon, Korean brisket sandwiches, udon noodle soup) are available from the Penn Quarter, Lafayette Park and Dupont Circle locations.
Ninety Ten by DC Sweet Potato Cake
The beloved DC Sweet Potato Cake began in 1988 when Laurine Helen Lowery shared a family recipe with her son, Derek Lowery, who later started selling the cakes from his car. After facing setbacks, April Richardson, the company's lawyer, joined as Co-Owner and President in 2009, leading a turnaround and partnering with hundreds of local stores. Get yourself a slice, along with other dessert, breakfast and lunch options at Ninety Ten, the storefront bakery and cafe.
The Sweet Lobby
Based in Barracks Row, the Sweet Lobby is owned by Dr. Winnette McIntosh Ambrose, a self-taught pastry chef who concocts internationally inspired sweet treats. Winnette won Food Network’s Cupcake Wars within months of opening the confectionary, turning her into a star and turning the store into a must-stop shop for those craving macarons, shortbread and éclairs that are to die for.
Here's The Scoop
Although a Maryland-native, Karin Sellers knows DC well as she went to school in the area, her siblings attended Howard and her family owned property across from the university – now home to Sellers' own small business, Here’s The Scoop. Aside from offering a variety of ice creams and desserts, the Georgia Avenue sweet shop serves as a community space for events and a source for the latest ‘scoop.’
Donna Faye's Bakery
Jamila Jenkins’ mother founded D’s Gourmet Butter Cookies to share their family’s famous butter cookies. Now, Donna Faye’s Bakery honors her legacy with those same butter cookies, along with pound cakes and granola, in assorted flavors. The Chicago-style treats can be ordered online for local delivery or pickup at pop-up locations, including the Flea at Eastern Market, which can be found on the website.
Cake-Wich Craft Bake Shop
From decant and extravagant cupcakes and cakes to custom cookies, Aleatra Dimitrijevski’s Cake-Wich Craft Bake Shop hits a sweet spot. The former local high school culinary arts teacher and Food Network competitor continues to give back to the community by hosting fundraisers for her Cupcake Dreams DC Scholarship and serving as a role model for success. Donations and orders can be made online.
Founded and owned by Shannon Boyle, Uncle Chip's serves up cookies and treats in Truxton Circle on North Capitol Street. Boyle wants to deliver a one-of-a-kind cookie experience, whether you pick-up in store or have the confections shipped nationwide. She spent a year working on the shop's secret recipe and that comes as no surprise as soon as you take a bite. The store is named after Shannon's own Uncle Chip, emphasizing the homespun atmosphere and offerings of the business.
Restaurants and Bars
Five-time James Beard Award finalist Amy Brandwein has been presenting authentic and elevated Italian cuisine to the DC area for six years through her flagship Centrolina and fast-casual Piccolina. As a female chef and owner, Brandwein has used her experience to inspire other women chefs and accepted the James Beard Foundation's Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership Program fellowship in 2017. Brandwein advocates for healthy eating and ending hunger through charitable efforts and has partnered with DC Urban Greens, a nonprofit urban farm located in Wards 7 and 8. The farm provides fresh and affordable produce to the local community.
Opening Republic Restoratives may have seemed like a risky move for Pia Carusone and Rachel Gardner, as the female duo had no prior distillery experience and were taking a shot at a male-led industry. However, Republic has been nothing short of a spirited success. Offering distilled spirits that range from rye to vodka to apple brandy, the DC company is both women-owned and LGBTQ+-owned, as both Causone and Gardner live in DC with their same-sex partners. Republic is also the largest crowdfunded distillery in America and continues to promote community outreach and inclusivity.
After moving to the U.S. from the Philippines when she was just a baby, Patrice Cleary connects with her heritage through her Filipino-American restaurant, Purple Patch. Cleary spent eight years in the Marine Corps and worked for a Venture Capital firm before she gained restaurant experience by bartending and helping other restaurants open for another eight years. Cleary then opened Purple Patch, which features her mother’s recipes and has been recognized as one of the first Filipino restaurants in DC.
La Collina/The Duck & The Peach/The Wells
Not one, not two, but three establishments along Capitol Hill are the works of Hollis Wells Silverman, former COO of José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup. La Collina, an Italian neighborhood spot, shares a kitchen with The Duck & The Peach, which offers a New American menu inspired by California and New England. In between the two is The Wells, a gin-focused cocktail bar. Each location delivers thoughtfully curated menus with a focus on fresh and seasonal ingredients led by Executive Chef Katarina Petonito.
Chef Dina Daniel is the mastermind behind Fava Pot, which serves up delicious, homespun Egyptian cuisine in a cozy atmosphere. Fava Pot began as a food truck back in 2013 and four years later, Food Network named it one of America’s 26 Best Food Trucks and the rest is history with brick-and-mortars now in Dupont and Falls Church. Fava Pot’s menu features a signature falafel made from scratch with no premade dough, as well as famed fava beans slow-cooked for 12 hours.
Hank's Oyster Bar
Jamie Leeds Restaurant Group oversees the three Hank’s Oyster Bar locations and is led by none other than Jamie Leeds. A self-taught chef, Leeds began her career in 1980, opened the first Hank’s – named after her father – in 2005 and formed her Restaurant Group in 2015. Leeds serves as a mentor to other female business owners and is a supporter of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s “Save the Bay” efforts.
On top of working for her mother’s catering business and restaurant, Rose Previte was able to immerse herself in the diverse and rich world of food when she and her husband traveled to more than 30 countries over the course of three years. Previte wanted the community to experience the same food journey and thus Compass Rose was born. Within a year of opening its doors, Compass Rose was on every "Best Restaurant in DC" list and Previte was named one of DC’s “40 Under 40” top professionals to watch in 2017. Later that year, she opened Maydan, which quickly garnered accolades of its own and landed Previte on the coveted list of Michelin-starred restaurants.
Bettina Stern and Suzanne Simon initially bonded over their shared love for local, seasonal vegetables, which eventually lead to a culinary business journey combining Bettina's background in editorial publishing with Suzanne's expertise in environmental sciences. They started by sharing seasonal recipes online in 2009, then brought their talents to a farmer's market tent by the White House and expanded to a brick-and-mortar shop in Georgetown in November 2015. Now with a second location in Chinatown, Chaia thrives in offering delicious tacos with a focus on seasonality and sustainability.