Fun fact: did you know that DC was one of the first pilot cities where Starbucks taste-tested their now-iconic PSL (aka pumpkin spice latte)? So we’re basically responsible for making pumpkin spice a cultural phenomenon. In fact, maybe we should go ahead and write our congresspeople to officially change “Fall” to “Pumpkin Spice Season” in the United States (winter, spring, summer, pumpkin spice… it has a ring to it).
A quick Google search or Yelp perusal reveals hundreds of responses when it comes to coffee shops in DC. But we don’t just want to know which coffee shops are serving up pumpkin food and drinks; we want to know who’s serving up the best pumpkin food and drinks. We’re talking pumpkin drinks and treats so good you’ll be all “Starbucks, who?”
Compass Coffee features single origin coffee at their 5 DC-area locations and showcase a number of fantastic drinks year round. As far as autumnal offerings go, Compass always comes up with fantastic seasonal drinks, and their fall and winter specialty coffees usually feature their homemade pumpkin syrup pretty prominently. Although they’ve yet to release their 2018 flavors, you can bet that whatever they end up serving will be pumpkintastic.
Ebenezers Coffeehouse puts a lot of emphasis on using only fair trade coffee and reinvesting all of their profits into community outreach efforts. In addition to doing good in the community, they also do a really good seasonal cup of coffee. For fall, they offer 2 options: the pumpkin pie latte and the pumpkin spiced chai. While both are solid options, the pumpkin spiced chai features a harmonious blend of pumpkin and chai and lots of fall spices that warm you up like a fuzzy blanket.
Bread and Water Company
When it comes to a solid pumpkin latte, it’s hard to beat Bread and Water Company. They offer the drink–made with cinnamon, allspice, pumpkin, and cardamom–at their Alexandria and Pentagon row locations. It’s basically a hot cup of fall, and the fact that it’s made with real pumpkin should give you all the feels.
I dare you to find a better treat than a pumpkin donut stuffed with pumpkin pie topped with bruleed sugar. Every bite tastes like you’ve died and gone to pumpkin spice heaven. Find them (and more tasty fall creations) at District Doughnut’s locations in Barrack’s Row and Georgetown in mid to late September, so keep up with them on Instagram to make sure you don’t miss out on this limited-time treasure.
Baked and Wired
Consistently on the menu–and consistently delicious too–the Pumpkin Ginger Bread is always a winner at Baked and Wired. The pumpkin loaf (which tastes much more like a pumpkin cake) is delicately interspersed with bursts of crystallized ginger, and topped with a ginger buttercream. We recommend pairing with one of their handcrafted espresso beverages–like a cappuccino or macchiato–for a perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
Macarons are already little bites of happiness, but when you add in some pumpkin spice… you’ve got something close to nirvana. Olivia Macaron–a minority and women-owned DC local business–handmakes this seasonal flavor every year only in October and November, so stock up while you can! Can’t make it to their Georgetown location this fall? No worries, because they ship nationwide.
One of Sweetz’s best sellers every year is their pumpkin cheesecake–and for good reason. It’s super creamy and packed with pumpkin flavor, layered on top of a graham cracker crust (oh, btw, you can also get it vegan and gluten-free if that’s your thing). They usually start serving it at their Maryland brick and mortar as well as their cheesecake truck in mid September, so keep an eye out to make sure you get a bite!
Pumpkin pie is the OG fall food that’s since been overshadowed by its trendier cousins and offshoots. But there are few things that can beat the simplistic goodness of a slice of well-made pumpkin pie. Luckily, Pie Sisters live up to their name and make a mean pumpkin spice pie that’s available from October 1st till the end of February. Be the winner at your holiday party by pre-ordering one of these bad boys.
The great thing about pumpkin is that it’s often just as good in sweet dishes as it is in savory, and Sotto Sopra does a great job of toeing that line. Their Raviolini di Zucca con Salsiccia is a dish that features pumpkin raviolini, amaretto cookies, and sausage. It’s the perfect autumnal dish. Make reservations sooner rather than later, because this is one fall pasta you shouldn’t miss!
Mari Vanna’s pumpkin soup is technically available year round, but for some reason it just tends to taste better in the fall (it probably has something to do with the weather outside). It’s a big bowl of savory pumpkin soup with flavors of onion and garlic, served in a homemade bread bowl, and topped with pumpkin seeds.
The pumpkin curry is another year round staple, and has even been called a “dish you shouldn’t live without,” a sentiment that speaks some serious truths. The pumpkin curry has an outrageous depth of flavor and features big chunks of perfectly-cooked pumpkin ready for you to devour. We recommend making reservations at any point during the year, but especially during the fall to take advantage of this beautiful bowl of perfection.
Let us know your favorite Pumpkin Spiced thing by tagging us using #FrayLife and #DCFray!
View More Articles By Sydney Gallimore