Magnolia Bakery

108 North State St.
Chicago, IL 60602

Magnolia Bakery may not ring a bell here in the Midwest, but odds are you’ve probably heard the name. The Manhattan bakery has been a point in conversation for many a girly movie, from Sex and the City to The Devil Wears Prada and plenty of TV shows in between. With so much media focused on New York, it’s actually pretty easy to catch a mention of this place. With that level of fame, I figured it would almost be “name enough” to be blown away by this place; they claim to have started the cupcake craze. Sadly, I was disappointed.

So the bakery has a number of confections, of which the cupcakes are only one. In fact, the cupcakes are the most famous of the menu items, well regarded as having been among the first novelty cupcakes that whet the fanatical apetite we see today. The cakes aren’t quite right, though. They taste good, though a common complaint around review sites is the dryness of the cake. I’d contend they are on the drier end of the spectrum, but not uncommonly so. It does detract a little from the experience though, because it almost makes even fresh cupcakes feel either overcooked or old.

As for the well-renowned icing on the cakes, I like it too, though I would consider it a little sweet for me. There’s too much of it. I’ve discovered the best cupcakes tend to be a little more balanced with the sweetness between the cake and the icing. Now I see why. The icing is a shock to the taste buds, but the cake leaves you wanting. The flavors of the cupcakes were good. I tried the coconut and then the vanilla, and both were good. I just get an overarching feeling like these are more like a good homemade cupcake: we all like them, but with all the places out there now baking cupcakes, it’s hard to feel like this place is that special.

All of this said, the service was great. The people were exceptional, and unquestionably the best part of the experience.

I’m taken aback at how unremarkable I found the experience, when I expected so much more from all the hype. I even went to far as to look around at other reviews to see if I was imagining things. In the end, though, as much as I respect Magnolia’s place in cupcake history, either it has gone downhill since its glory days, or the newer cupcake places have become so creative and so numerous that Magnolia’s classier cupcakes have been lost in the shuffle. I’m sorry to say it, but the cupcakes were only good. They weren’t amazing.


  • People who love this place make light of the banana cream cupcake, so maybe that’s a safe place to start.
  • There are other bakery items, though, like cakes. They’re also worth a try.
  • Magnolia’s place in history is hard to dispute, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say the place is worth a special trip.

Magnolia Bakery on Urbanspoon


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