Bayou Bakery is the full package – good food, fresh pastries, and a focus on community service.
It’s before 9 am on a weekday, and my husband and I are looking for someplace where we can enjoy a sit-down breakfast at this hour. Bayou Bakery pops up as open and serving in our search, and I realize I’ve heard about it before but we have never visited in the ten years we’ve spent in the area. It’s supposed to be good – so we finally try it out.
Situated on a busy street corner across from the local justice department, parking can be a bit tricky in the surrounding block. We hit on a spot several streets down, but Bayou Bakery’s location is also easily accessible by metro. One of the first things you see upon entering the café is a sign recognizing owner and chef David Guas’ contribution to providing food to Ukrainian refugees on the Polish border with World Central Kitchen. Somewhat of a celebrity, having been featured on television in numerous capacities, Chef Guas has worked to build community support and volunteerism into his business both at home and abroad, all of which is highlighted on the Bayou Bakery website – a huge plus, in my book.
Bayou Bakery is a casual eatery, where you order first at the counter and then find a seat – all first come, first served. Luckily, we had a plentiful choice so early in the morning. The dining room is decorated in all things reminiscent of New Orleans. An enormous fleur-de-lis hovers beneath brightly painted shutters; the flags of LSU, Tulane, the University of New Orleans, and Loyola University grace the back wall; and an array of down-home décor ranging from pelicans to voodoo signs can be found hanging in the bright space. Despite its kitschy appeal, there is nothing that feels cluttered or out of place, and a large exposed brick wall and wooden tabletops help to create an open and airy feeling.
One of the draws at Bayou Bakery is, of course, their baked goods. Pastries are made fresh daily and per their menu “when we’re out, we’re out”! From the case, we opted for a seasonal scone – cranberry and orange – and an everything croissant stuffed with chive cream cheese. I’m not normally a scone lover, but this one was an exception. The outside was crisp and the inside was soft, moist, and not as dense as you normally find. The flavor hit first with bright orange zest and followed with the sweet-bitter cranberry. Paired with a light and sweet glaze drizzle, it was perfect, without the need to be dunked in a beverage.
The Everything croissant was on another level, however. My mouth is watering now at just the memory of it – perfectly flaky croissant pastry enclosed a thick layer of cream cheese that was seasoned, but not overwhelmingly so, with fresh chives. The layer of Everything seasoning on top was generous, and the combination of sweet and salty provided an experience like biting into a light and airy Everything bagel. If you are a lover of savory, this is a must-eat treat.
For our main dishes, we ordered the yogurt with granola and fresh fruit and the avocado Benedict. The yogurt is simple and effective – whole milk plain yogurt is topped with rotating fresh fruit and Bayou Bakery’s homemade granola – which changes seasonally. The fruit in this case was apple, which was tart and crisp. The granola, consisting of nuts, oats, and seeds, was also dotted with dried cranberry and flavored with a wintery spice mix. The effect was an apple-crumble flavor and made for a great light breakfast.
The agreed-upon star at our table was the avocado Benedict. Served in a bowl over a portion of crisply fried, golden-brown tater tots, a tender sliced avocado is set beneath perfectly poached eggs and citrusy hollandaise. Labeled as “lazy man’s hollandaise” on the menu, this is not a sauce to snooze on. It tastes as though it has been perfected over years of patient experimentation. So fine is its distillation that its effect is simply to enhance the dish, not to bludgeon the other flavors into submission. Slightly charred cherry tomatoes provide a warm vegetable accompaniment, while a topping of flaky sea salt and fresh chives offer an unexpected but welcome hit of zestiness at the end of each bite. The avocado Benedict is so well balanced that you will not even notice the absence of meat. It is one of those rare dishes that elicits an audible “mmm” with each mouthful.
After finishing our meals, we could take our coffees with us, as they’d been conveniently served in to-go cups. We’d ordered two vanilla lattes (delicious, unsurprisingly), but their coffee bar also offers several specialty drinks with unique twists as well as French press, regular hot or iced coffee, tea, and some “harder” options as well.
Bayou Bakery is definitely a must-try in the DC area. Its laid-back, warm atmosphere and fresh-baked pastries are welcoming to everyone. An all-day brunch menu is served on the weekends, and in addition to their cocktails and coffees, they offer a selection of frozen daiquiris that honor New Orleans and change seasonally. Around Mardi Gras, you can order whole king cakes to take home or enjoy a slice in the restaurant. In warmer weather, you can opt outside and sit on their dog-friendly patio. Bayou Bakery has just moved into my rotation of go-to restaurants.