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 Michelin-starred restaurant Maydan to a towering cone of banana bourbon caramel from Ice Cream Jubilee, 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
Ice Cream Jubilee
We promise you’ll crave the homespun frozen confections at Victoria Lai’s Ice Cream Jubilee. Although Lai began making ice cream in her apartment, it was an apprenticeship at a pie shop that pulled her aside from her law career to advance her baking skills. Lai then spent late nights crafting new flavors while working at the Department of Homeland Security, and eventually attended Penn State’s renowned ice cream seminar – the rest is history, as they say. You can find flavors like banana bourbon caramel and cherries jubilee (in honor of DC's famous cherry blossoms) at various locations around the District.
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 café simply deals in deliciousness. The bakery ships nationwide but locals can place pickup orders or visit Sticky Fingers Diner to get a taste.
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.
Culture Coffee Too.
At age 13, ever-energetic Veronica Cooper, also known as Ms. V, had her own business as a seamstress, and nearly 50 years later opened Culture Coffee Too. Ms. V is a matriarch among DC’s Black-owned restaurant community, offering comforts that go beyond what you can sip, eat and enjoy. She mentored budding entrepreneur Sophia, of Little Miss Sophia’s Sweets and Treats, and continues to showcase local artists and small businesses, host food giveaways and pop-ups and always offer a safe space.
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.
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.
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.
Pia Carusone and Rachel Gardner
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.
Hollis Wells Silverman
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, Union Market 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.
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.
Although originally from California, Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley’s culinary journey has taken her from Pennsylvania to New York to Florida, and she eventually landed in DC, where she has been the Executive Chef at St. Anselm since 2017. Meek-Bradley’s portfolio is decorated with accolades from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington and the James Beard Foundation, along with a top-three finish on Bravo’s 'Top Chef', but the early exposure to her parents’ non-profit community dining hall is what inspires her sustainability and charitable efforts. Meek-Bradley shows off her grilling chops at St. Anselm, which evokes hunting cabin vibes with deer busts and bearskin, plus perfectly cooked ax-handle rib-eyes.
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.
Following a move from the west coast, Chef Angela Rose is bringing years of culinary and luxury hotel experience to the AC Hotel Washington DC Capitol Hill Navy Yard. Rose is the Executive Chef overseeing the hotel’s two kitchens and serving the AC Lounge, AC Kitchen and rooftop bar and restaurant Smoke & Mirrors. Rose draws inspiration from her Mexican and African American heritages and passion for fresh ingredients.