Pity the paralegals, city staffers, and insurance brokers who work downtown. It's a pastry wasteland.
Let's name some names: The coffee shop scene is dominated by chains like Seattle's Best Coffee, Tully's, and Starbucks, each of which sells their own particular assortment of dismal pastries. Independent shops tend to be little delis, like the one in the Alaska Building, that sell sad, plastic-wrapped Costco-like muffins along with their coffee. Pegasus Coffee and Pastry Bar (711 Third Ave) serves tasty coffee from small-batch roasted beans, but sadly relies on my old nemesis Mostly Muffins for its muffins, scones, and pink frosted cookies; the cute little coffee cart at Fourth Avenue and Union Street has more or less the same crummy selection. Online Coffee Company (1111 First Ave), an inviting internet cafe, sells scones that look like cow patties. Hungry Mind Cafe (717 Fourth Ave) is a groovy place with a fab newsstand and yummy Indian fried snack mixes, but its pastry case is filled with bloated, stale-tasting croissants and assembly line muffins.
All these shops can and should do better, particularly the independents. For shame, for shame.
So where do you go for good pastries among downtown's skyscrapers? Plymouth Cafe (Third Ave and Cherry St) raises money for the Plymouth Housing Project—a low-income housing organization—and bakes its own muffins, plus strawberry oat bars that are full of ripe berry flavor. As I wrote last week, Zeitgeist (171 S Jackson St) sells a nice assortment of pastries including Sugar's darling brioche rolls. And finally, I had actually fielded a complaint about the All-City Cafe in Georgetown—something about an M&M scone, which is, I agree, a profoundly bad idea—but when I visited AC's Pioneer Square branch I found nothing of the sort, and instead bought myself a lemon-ginger muffin that was as scrumptious as the cafe's space is cool. ■