Judging Restaurants – Paul Bakery

801 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

Paul Bakery is located at 801 Pennsylvania Ave, NW in Penn Quarter and their Georgetown location at 1078 Wisconsin Ave, NW opens this week. Anyone try the Penn Quarter location yet? You can see their menu items here.

1078 Wisconsin Ave, NW

Ed. Note: The transformation at 1078 Wisconsin Ave, NW is pretty amazing. Below is what it looked like in Aug. ’10

1078 Wisconsin Ave, NW, Aug. 2010

29 Comment

  • The quiche and pastries are divine. I can’t stop talking/thinking/dreaming about the quiche though. I asked the manager if they sell cookbooks and she informed me that all of their recipes are secret.


  • Bread is amazing. Sandwiches are very good (very Euro styled, not overstuffed American Sub style). Desserts awesome.

    And, their regular black brewed coffee is pretty close to perfect.

    But, this is not going to be a place that your visiting midwestern relatives like. Sandwiches are too small, don’t have flavorless tomatoes, not enough mayo, etc. Coffee is too strong and probably not hot enough.

    And, it is pretty expensive.

    • Apparently Paul is perfect for arrogant types who like to make generalizations about regions that they most likely know little about. Be sure to say thanks on Thursday for your cultural superiority.

    • Native Midwesterner here. I can find better bakery in Cleveland than in DC (it’s one of DC’s shortcomings) and I’ve been all over the world and sampled the best.

      • Sorry, should have labeled the irony for some of the earnest types on this blog. I’m from the Midwest, and was basically parroting the comments I hear from visiting parental units every time we take them somewhere vaguely European. I forgot to add, “This doesn’t taste that much different from Campbell’s soup”.

        And, I don’t argue that there are better bakeries in Cleveland than DC. Paul is the first place I have been in DC that seems to actually know how to make bread.

        — A myopic little twit.

      • Midwestern bread snobs? get in line, behind the Tex and SoCal Mexican food snobs, the Southern BBQ snobs, the SF Asian and organic snobs, and the everything NY snobs.

  • Went to the Georgetown one this weekend during their soft opening and it was a disaster. Their seating upstairs is a sit-down restaurant, so the sandwiches and quiches at the counter are only to-go — there’s no downstairs seating. I got the wrong change from the woman checking us out, and it took 15 minutes to get our food heated up, after which the woman heating up our food tried to make us pay again. By the time we got it, our food was cold. At this point not looking good for me to try it again — it’s even more of an upsell than the PQ location.

  • I’ve only been to the downtown location and here are my thoughts:

    1. Food is excellent. It’s as close to a Parisian bakery as you will find in DC. The croissants are better than Patisserie Poupon and the quiche is about the best I’ve had in Washington. The coffee is strong and good. And they have fresh OJ that tastes like it was actually squeezed in-house.

    2. Service is poor. If you order something that has to be prepared the staff are supposed to bring it to you, but this “system” is a disaster and everthing come out at different times and sometimes cold. Tables are frequently left uncleared and piled with dirty dishes. The people behind the counter seem clueless and unaware there are such things as customers.

    3. It’s expensive.

    • Agreed. The service is absolutely horrible. The staff walks around with their heads up their you know what. Last time we were there, our order was botched so badly that the server told us to tell him what kind of dessert we would like and he would get it to us, free of charge. Not even kidding, he got that order wrong too!

  • The staffing at the Archives location had problems, but they’ve improved on that front since opening.
    Their pastries are great – especially the gourmandise, macaroon, and strawberry rhubarb tart. I think the salmon quiche could use some more salmon (the one I had tasted more like it had some sort of salmon flavoring), but they are good too. Looking forward to seeing how the Georgetown location compares.

  • +1 on the gourmandise, and I love the chocolate croissants, too. I’ve only ever done pastry/coffee pickup to go, so cannot speak to the table service, but everything has always been very good.

    As a green line commuter I love getting off at my stop (Archives) and popping in for a quick bite on the way in to the office.

  • My dog loved the pain au chocolat and chocolate macaron that I brought home. If you think the food is pricey, try adding a vet bill for doggie stomach-pumping. Sadly, I still haven’t managed to try the pastry myself!

    • I hope that you are joking. If not, you are the moron of the day.

      • Now don’t be ass, What. Jess was clearly joking or the dog jumped on the counter and got the stuff while Jess wasn’t looking. Unless Jess is part of the 1%, in which case dismiss everything I just said.

    • Chocolate for your dog? Come on! I second what’s comment.

      • Yeah, I thought it was obvious that my dog pulled the pastries off the counter or otherwise got them accidentally. Why on earth would I intentionally feed chocolate to a dog just to get her stomach pumped? No need to jump to mean conclusions.

        • Ahhhhh….from first reading your comment, I thought you bought fancy chocolate specifically to feed your dog. My bad.

          Yes, dogs will eat anything even if they “know” it will make them ridiculously ill; e.g., rat poison, dead pigeons, yeast packets, etc. I have had my dog’s stomach pumped twice and surgery once, so I totally understand how dumb dogs are.

          “Moron” designation formally withdrawn and applied to myself for reading comprehension fail.

          • Ha, thanks. (I could have been clearer.)

          • My dog once got onto the table and ate two or three dozen chocolate peanut butter cupcakes (she weighs all of 12 pounds). Didn’t get sick, didn’t need her stomach pumped, but was insanely happy and pleased with herself. I was started to believe, based on my experiences with dogs accidentally eating chocolate, that the claim about it being poisonous was an old wives’ tale.

  • Best Napoleons ever!

  • The pain au chocolat with marzipan and shaved almonds on top is really tasty!

  • Agree the bread and sandwiches are great. The counter area does not flow well at the Navy Memorial location. If they are busy it gets very congested around the counters. I like the fact they have some outside seating.

  • The tart-apple almond and brioche -raisin chocolate I have had were excellent. The pain was a little too seeded and hard for my taste.

  • Late to the posting, but I have to add how amazing their omelets are, for weekend brunch. My favorite omelet in town. I also just love having brunch there surrounded by tourists rather than local brunchers at a trendy restaurant. Their high chairs are stunning, upholstered wood and leather.

    Service is hilarious. At the cash register, they are very sweet but disorganized, and different people will ask you the same questions. That’s happened to me every time I’ve been there.

    What makes me bittersweet happy is that it isn’t “as close to Parisian as you can get in DC”, it’s just “Parisian in DC”. It’s a chain. With many stores in France that sell pretty much the exact same thing everywhere.

  • Spectacularly bad service in Penn Quarter. Their shops in Paris and London are much better run.

  • If fond memories of pastry shops and bakeries in Paris enhances the flavor of the offerings at PAUL, my thumbs up for the bread and pastries is colored. But I would guess that even if one has never been, they would be taken with much of what PAUL offers.

    Flan has been one of my favorite pastries since my student days in Paris in the early 1960’s. But until PAUL opened, I could never find it this side of the ocean. Wonderful and dangerous now that I can no longer eat without abandon! I also love their escargot; a breakfast treat with raisins that I prefer over a croissant or pain au chocolat. The name comes from swirling the dough around in continuous rings like a snail’s shell. The smoked salmon sandwich with butter a la francaise, lettuce, and tomato on a plain baguette is also divine. And the macaroons are yummy. Too bad they are not expanding the Penn Quarter spot to serve dinner as they now do in Georgetown.

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