In my research for my trip to D.C. one gluten-free place was an absolute MUST DO (yes the capital letters are justified). Rise Bakery came up on a Yelp search as a 100% gluten-free bakery. Once I clicked on their website and saw pictures of their products I was hooked. The categories online were Croissant, Bread, Bagels, Savory, Muffins, Pastry, Cupcakes, Pie, Cakes, Cookies & Bars. Say what?! So many options! And so many savory options! Generally these days you can find gluten-free bakeries with cupcakes and sweets (or regular bakeries that make gluten-free versions), but savory baked goods are harder to find. That’s unfortunate because they happen to be a favorite of mine. I very much enjoy sweet gluten-free treats, but savory gluten-free baked goods are things I crave (and I certainly crave the regular gluten versions).
I had in fact not come across Rise Bakery in my first couple rounds of research. I just sort of stumbled across it on Yelp and then was shocked my earlier searches hadn’t turned it up. Thank god it did eventually turn up!
D.C. was a trip where I was trying to carefully plan out my gluten-free meals to hit up as many as possible. I first considered going right when I got into D.C. on Friday afternoon. I then noticed that Roti Mediteranean Grill (a favorite from Chicago) wasn’t open on Saturdays. So I did lunch at Roti on Friday and Rise was going to be my Saturday morning breakfast spot.
I was staying in Penn Quarter and Rise Bakery is in Adams Morgan, but it was an easy Uber ride there. I also considered taking Car2Go (link to blog post about Car2Go in Miami), but Uber seemed easier as I don’t know my way around D.C. too well. Rise Bakery is in what looks like a converted townhouse/walk-up apartment building, which seemed to be a theme for the businesses on the street. My aunt at dinner the night before said Adams Morgan is a fun neighborhood for young professionals to live in.
I walked into Rise and staring me right in the face was the coveted savory baked goods! There were ham and cheese croissants, chocolate croissants, regular croissants, muffins, and breakfast “pies” (looks like an empanada) just in one case! There then were sweets like cupcakes in another case. Even though gluten-free options in Miami are expanding and even though I can usually find a gluten-free bakery on most of my trips, I gave myself permission to go a bit crazy at Rise! Self-control and moderation is kind of overrated…
Out of all of the things at Rise, there was nothing in this universe that could have kept me from that ham and cheese croissant. Not a single thing. I was unfortunately guilty of eating a lot of gluten in high school (life-long celiac kids can maybe go a bit crazy when they get some freedom), but the thing I couldn’t say no to the most was a ham and cheese croissant at the bakery a block from my high school. To this day it’s still something I salivate over just thinking about. Luckily in Portland I had discovered the gluten-free ham and cheese roll at Tula Bakery as a “healthy” (as in gluten-free) alternative, but I am only there once or twice a year… I was getting, no I physically and emotionally needed!, this ham and cheese croissant.
My love of croissants reactivated, I also went for the chocolate croissant. I figured I would be okay without the regular croissant and instead focused my attention on the turkey sausage, egg, and cheese Rise pie. I love breakfast, I love those particular breakfast ingredients, I love savory baked goods, so how was I not going to like this one? (You’re right the answer is- I wasn’t). From that point on I moved my attention to the sweets and got a pecan cupcake and a red velvet cupcake. I’m pretty sure by this point I had only taken a few breaths when listing off what I wanted (I kind of saw something and just shouted out). I think the workers waited a sec to see if I wanted more, but I was good (I thought). One of them even kind of commented along the lines of wow that’s a lot of food…
I got the ham and cheese croissant and the Rise Pie heated up to eat there and the rest to go. I went to take a seat and totally realized I hadn’t even noticed another display case along the side. I think there were some cakes and maybe cookies there, but my mind was focused immediately on the bagels! When I really think about it, the ham and cheese croissant is probably something I crave the most. But the two things I crave the most that come to mind easily are mac & cheese and bagels! So of course I was like “um actually I’ll also add an everything bagel…” I got it toasted to eat there with cream cheese.
My food came out and after rushing through taking some pictures I dug in. First up was of course the ham and cheese croissant. Yes it was everything I hoped and wished and dreamt of! It was flaky, it kind of triggered that “filling” feeling with the carbs and ham and cheese, and the ham and cheese added a bit of richness to it overall. Any gluten-free with a savory tooth has got to try Rise Bakery! I was very very happy.
Next I dove into the Rise Pie, which was good. It’s hard to compete with the flaky, rich croissant, but the Rise Pie was filling and was all good flavors inside a savory pastry with good texture. Only slightly could tell it was gluten-free from being only the little bit, so slightly crumbly once inside your mouth (vs. doughy or flaky). It kind of reminded me of a gourmet Hot Pocket (totally mean that as a compliment).
On the bagel end I think it’s just super super hard to try and perfectly match the flavor and taste of regular bagels. Most gluten-free baked goods I try and compare to the regular and use that as a measurement. Bagels I don’t hold to that expectation. I would say Rise’s bagel was 70-80% of the way towards a regular-gluten bagel on both taste and texture. It was a filling and tasty treat (and who doesn’t love carbs smothered in cream cheese). It was crispy on the outside, but a little “chewy” on the inside (something I’ve found in most gluten-free bagels). Still something worth getting and I think it will make gluten-free bagel lovers happy!
I was pretty full at this point and waited a second to digest my food. While this happened a couple came in and asked about the almond croissants. They weren’t ready yet, but were on its way. Before the worker could say how long of a wait, the man said “we’ll wait however long it takes. I can’t go without one of them.” I forget exactly what they said after, but it was clear the couple wasn’t celiac or totally gluten-free. That’s a pretty big endorsement about Rise Bakery’s croissants!
Again I mentioned I was full, but it didn’t take long for me to eat the my other goodies. I ended up walking from Adams Morgan back to the Mall (there wasn’t a Car2Go nearby and Uber had Surge pricing). I made it to the White House before eating the chocolate croissant. I think making it that long without eating one of the treats deserved a reward- a flaky, chocolate kind of reward. Oh wait… In hindsight I should have just had the chocolate croissant heated up (even to go), because I should have known it wasn’t going to last long. Despite not being heated up, it still was really good. Similar flakiness as the ham and cheese with a really nice ratio of chocolate to croissant.
Once I had that taste of sweetness from the chocolate I knew I just had to give in with the cupcakes. After taking some pictures of the White House I walked towards the Mall and pretty quickly those cupcakes disappeared. I have several times commented that I am not a cupcake lover, but could be described as liking them and even a “fan” in a way. I just would usually go for cookies in terms of urge or cravings. I’ve encountered cupcakes to buck this inclination and these certainly count. They were both very moist (a big win for gluten-free cupcakes). They also had a great ratio of frosting to cupcake. The frosting was also not too sweet (important when having a chocolate croissant followed by two cupcakes…). I thought the pecan one was the most sophisticated in terms of taste, but the red velvet one I also really enjoyed (and I think that sometimes red velvet can easily fall short). For at least one of the cupcakes (I think red velvet) I was left with just the cupcake part and it was able to hang on its own. Not all cupcakes can say that (being a moist cupcake definitely helped with that).
So does the fact that this blog post is over 1500 words and I’ve written about each item in-depth make you realize how much I loved this place?! Rise Bakery is on the same level as some of the best gluten-free bakeries in Portland. Regular gluten-eaters I think would enjoy their baked goods and not really know the difference. In fact I texted a DC friend (regular gluten eater) a pic of my haul and she called out right away it was from Rise. And she said she goes there all the time! If you are gluten-free I implore you, urge you, cajole you, to go to Rise Bakery. Hoping my descriptions and the pics below will make the push unnecessary!
Rise Bakery- 2409 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009