In a fickle landscape for food businesses, many cupcake shops have opened in recent years in San Francisco -- and, happily, they continue to stick around. While not every innovation regarding the dessert has worked out in practice (cupcake and wine pairings should be banned), there's still a clear demand.
SFoodie is a tough customer when it comes to cupcakes. We are not on a diet. We are not lured or fooled by a sky-high swirl of frosting. And we're not swayed by sprinkles, though we do have an appreciation for the occasional edible glitter. Attention must be paid to the cake itself, ideally with a not-too-dense crumb (how the inside looks, not what falls off it). You'd probably not be shocked to know how many places make that an afterthought.
Here are our 10 favorite current spots for cupcakes:10. Miette
1 Ferry Building
This Ferry Building staple has mastered the art of presenting a cupcake that looks like it has no calories; these desserts look precious. Miette is giving up the goods on its best flavor, the Old-Fashioned, in its new cookbook. The chocolate cupcake is topped with boiled icing and a candied peanut, a simple combination that cuts through the noise of fleeting trends.
9. Kingdom Cake
524 Union (at Grant)
Kingdom Cake, a takeout window in the heart of the Italian neighborhood North Beach, is the only place we know in town that sprinkles edible shimmery dust on its creations. But when flavors come in varieties like White Russian, Lemon Lime Margarita, and Grand Marnier Chocolate (along with non-alcoholic shots like Orange Nutella, Thai Tea, and Spicy Chocolate), the extra flair is understandable.
2271 Union (at Steiner)
The Union Street shop relies on cutesy names like Alfred Hitchocolate, Gentlemen Prefer Red, and imPeach My Hunger -- which can be a little bit cringeworthy. But the gimmicks aren't required here, for the cake is proper, and the frosting technique is among the most sophisticated in the city, with petal-like edges that look like flowers and the key secret ingredient of all frostings: a light touch.