As much as I eat out, dedicated gluten-free bakeries are relatively rare discoveries, as there are not an abundance in the Baltimore-D.C. area. While staying in Tysons Corner, VA for my recent D.C. trip, I was excited to see that I was in close proximity to Falls Church location of The Happy Tart, a dedicated gluten-free patisserie that I first found out about through a rave review from Alexis at Alexis’ Gluten-Free Adventures.
While most gluten-free bakeries stock cupcakes and cookies, The Happy Tart’s goal is to not only have a plethora of gluten-free baked goods, but to produce top-quality pastries that will make you forget that gluten is missing at all.
I visited early on a Sunday morning, and the shelves were stocked with all sorts of pastries, cookies, cupcakes, macarons, and breads. You really have to remind yourself that everything in the bakery is gluten-free, because the assortment is quite dazzling.
While other allergies besides gluten are not marked, the staff is knowledge about ingredients and was able to point me to the items that were both gluten and dairy-free. The day I visited those items included macarons (with jam filling), chocolate chip cookies, a raspberry chocolate petit four, cupcakes (see the five flavors below), and baguettes.
I selected to try two sweet items, and one savory. In the first category, I tried the s’mores cupcake and raspberry chocolate petit four (the carrot cake cupcake was tried by my dad).
The petit four was so luxurious and decadent, clearly crafted with upmost care. The dark chocolate outer layer gave way to carefully layered chocolate and raspberry filling. I savored every bite, and the raspberry helped bring a wonderful fruity tanginess to ensure the tiny cake wasn’t too heavy and rich. I honestly haven’t had a pastry so well crafted and executed since going gluten-free, and it was a total treat to eat.
I debated about which cupcake to order, and settled on the s’more one because it was so unique. I loved the soft, marshmallowy peaks on the cupcake’s top and the rich dollop of chocolate fudge at the base of the marshmallow “mountains.” The base of the cupcake was a chocolate cake, and it achieved the perfect chocolate flavor and texture- not crumby or dense as most gluten-free cupcakes are. I’m not a huge cupcake person, but this one was absolutely incredible.
The baguette is the only vegan item at this gluten-free bakery. The loaf I picked up must have been just pulled from the oven, because it was still warm, and oh, so soft. The baguette is perfect for making sub rolls or garlic bread, or for those who just love bread, eating as-is. The bread has a wonderful crust and soft, fluffy interior, and
I have been to many a gluten-free bakery in my career as a gluten-free blogger, but The Happy Tart definitely stands among the best of the best. Not only is the taste and flavor spot-on, but the craftsmanship is undeniable. I felt like a kid again, my eyes wide, incredulous that absolutely everything is gluten-free. It’s easy to forget that gluten-free doesn’t have to be an afterthought, and The Happy Tart is definitely a place to have a reunion with the pastries you might have thought you would never eat again.
The Happy Tart has a second location in Alexandria, VA.
Update 2/11/17: On a recent visit, I picked up a batch of their English Muffins, which are just delightful. They are fluffy, yet chewy, and full-sized, so each half can withstand toppings (I like smashed avocado on them). While they’re the best toasted, the step isn’t necessary to enjoy them.
I also tried selected the vanilla cupcake with chocolate icing. The cake is light and vanilla-y, with moist crumb. The frosting is the size of the cake itself, and is deliciously decadent, both chocolatey and creamy. While I normally prefer more cake than frosting, it was so good I didn’t mind at all. It was sweet- as cupcakes should be- but not so much that I could feel my teeth rotting out with every bite, which is a mistake many other bakeries make.
The third new item I tried was their chocolate chip cookie- the only dairy-free cookie in the case. I loved the intensity of the cookie, which balanced the brown sugar base with chocolate chips spread evenly throughout. It was huge and thick, just the way I like my cookies. Don’t overlook it’s plainness against the flamboyance of the cupcakes- this cookie should not be missed.
Address: 410 S Maple Ave, Ste 110, Falls Church, VA 22046
Ideal For: Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert
Price: See prices on the menu here (Falls Church).
Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible
Special Feature: Order online right here
Special Feature: Order online right here
Disclaimer: This review is based upon the information I have at the time of the review and does not reflect changes in ingredients or availability of items. Please contact the restaurant directly for up-to-date information and feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. I was not compensated for this review and it is a reflection of my personal opinion.