RareSweets Opening Mon. Dec. 15th at 8am in CityCenter – Check Out Their Opening Menu

963 Palmer Alley, NW

Following news of Arc’teryx’s Grand Opening this weekend comes more CityCenter news – RareSweets is located in one of the ‘alley’ shops between H and I near where the new Hermes is coming:


From a press release:

“RareSweets?, a bakeshop and specialty dessert company, will open for business on Monday, December 15th at 8:00 a.m. at 963 Palmer Alley, NW, Washington, DC 20001 located in downtown’s CityCenterDC development. After over a year of operating a wholesale and catering business out of the food incubator Union Kitchen, and hosting various pop-ups, RareSweets’ founder and pastry chef Meredith Tomason will open her first brick-and-mortar bakeshop. The menu will offer seasonally driven layer cakes, doughnuts, coffee cakes, mini bundts, cookies, bars, biscuits, ice creams, and other heirloom American confections reimagined for a modern palate.

Tomason, who has held high-profile pastry roles in New York such as pastry chef at Tom Colicchio’s lauded Craft Restaurant, and stints at Tribeca Treats and the famed Magnolia Bakery, was inspired to open RareSweets by her late grandmother, an avid baker, through whom Tomason slowly learned the treasure trove of family recipes dating back several generations. Family recipes for gingersnap cookies and cocoa crinkles have earned a spot on RareSweets’ opening menu, which also features recipes inspired by Tomason’s vast vintage cookbook collection—some dating back to the 1850s.

Tomason has an affinity for fruit forward desserts, and enjoys creating unexpected textures and flavors, relying on raw sugar, nutmeg, and flower essences such as lavender and orange blossom to brighten berries and other fresh flavors. Customers can anticipate an arsenal of classic flavors that remain throughout the year, as well as an evolving array of seasonal flavors, which will showcase produce at the peak of their season.

On opening day, the first 100 people in line will receive a complimentary hot cocoa with purchase, limited to one per person. Initially, operating hours will be from 7am – 7pm, seven days a week. The opening menu is below:


Buttermilk Biscuits, Cinnamon Rolls, Cheddar Chive Biscuits, Seasonal Coffee Cakes, English Muffins $3.60

Egg in a Basket: $3.75

Chocolate Cake Donuts, Seasonal Glazed Donuts $2.50

Granola & Milk or Yogurt $3.60


Classic Cake Slices $5

Double Chocolate, Black & White, Red Velvet Beet, Black & Yellow

Seasonal Cake Slices $5.50

Ginger & Lemon, Vanilla & Eggnog, Apple Stack, Chocolate Malt

Mini Cakes $6

Classic Coconut, Chocolate Peppermint, Toasted Almond

Party Cakes (whole Cakes available for order)

Classic Flavors (6 inch $35, 8 inch $55, 9 inch $65)

Seasonal Flavors (6 inch $40, 8 Inch $60, 9 Inch $70)

Cookies & Bars

Oatmeal Raisin, Chewy Sugar Cookies, Gingersnaps, Cocoa Crinkles, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip/Walnut $2.00

Chocolate Brownie, Brown Butter Blondie $2.30

Ice Cream & Sorbet

Small $5.40 Large $6.40

Winter Spice, Vanilla, Mint Cocoa Nib, Milk Chocolate Spice, Oatmeal Raisin, Blood Orange Sherbet, Green Apple Sorbet, Pomegranate Black Pepper Sorbet


La Colombe Coffee & Espresso Drinks $2.50-$4.00, Hot Chocolate $3.40, Running Byrd Sweet Tea $2.75

DC-based architecture/design firm CORE designed the 1,212 sq. foot space, creating a crisp and light design palette that mixes white, grey and honey-stained pine and ash tones. A backlit perforated wood apron, inspired by a design motif found in old cookbooks and pie tins, wraps around the ceiling. Glass cake dome lights illuminate the butcher block and mink marble countertops in the open kitchen, which features a cake icing station with a playful wall of icing tools.”

21 Comment

  • clevelanddave

    Yum! One of the best to be found anywhere. You’ll pay the price, but worth it…

  • I can’t wait! The menu looks great.

  • I can wait for the foot traffic to pick up in that development. This has the potential to be DC’s Rockefeller Center when all is said and done.

  • I worry sometimes that City Center was a huge miscalculation.
    I know they’ll get more stores and foot traffic, but I wonder if it will ever be enough to support these high-end stores.

    Staff in the ones open now literally watch me walk past because they have nothing else to do. They just hang out chatting.

    • +1 – the developer is on the winning end of many of those leases.

    • I think that there will be more foot traffic coming in there. Phase 2 of City Center will bring a hotel, and so many apartment and condo buildings will continue to come online through nearby developments in the eastern part of DC’s NW. Not to mention the nearby hotels that are already around, and the Convention Center. It will just take a little time. I am really excited about this bakery. There is nothing like this around, and the 7am proposed opening hours sounds excellent!!

      • clevelanddave

        I think this is right on, for two reasons. One, a lot of these places are destination locations: you go because it is there, and only there. You want a Hermes scarf from a Hermes store, there is only one option in the DC area (I think). Same with places like Rare Sweets. Second: boy, if they can fill up these condos and apartments at these rates- if- you’ve got peeps with lots of spare cash. I think the units sell at $1000 per square foot. That is huge. So if they can do that, they’ve got lots of customers…

    • Eh, unless you’re personally invested here, who cares? It’s not like much of that retail matters to most DC consumers/rising millennial demographic. You’ll be able to find Hermes ties with ease elsewhere if this one closes.

      • Who cares? Anyone who doesn’t want a gigantic vacant hole in the middle of our city should care. I personally think it will be successful. The big law firm just moved in this week, adding 1,000 people for daytime traffic. Once everything is full and people start to realize the stuff is there, I think it will pick up. I think making downtown DC a destination (particularly a weekend destination) like NYC or Chicago will take some time, but it has already been picking up in the past few years.

        • It’s not likely to remain vacant (unless the developers choose to hold out). If these upper-tier brands aren’t able to cover rent, a slightly lower-tier brand would eventually take its place. Though many uber-luxury brands take a hit on their higher-profile retail locations and write off the high rents as a marketing expense.

    • Yeah, walked by the other day and counted like a total of 4 people shopping in 8 or so stores that are open there. I get it is a work in progress, but I’m a little skeptical of the ability of this to become a “shopping destination” without more big anchor tenants. I really can’t see someone from Potomac/NoVa trekking into the city on the weekends to shop here.

      For all the talk of how high end the condos are here, they really aren’t very pricy by Bos/Chi/SF downtown luxury prices. So far the highest priced condo has been $1.7 million, well below the $3.5 million figure hoped for. Even Bethesda just listed a condo for $10.5 million, where units start at $1.5 million. DT DC is an modestly upscale market, not a luxury environment like central SF/BOS/CHI. Given the height limit, the potential for central DC to really change dramatically is pretty limited. I can see Shaw/Mt. Vernon becoming popular with yuppies, but I can’t see it becoming DC’s Gold Coast, Nob Hill.

      • Agreed re: anchor tenants. I think it needs a big department store or at least some slightly lower scale big retailers. I’m thinking of Michigan Ave more so than Gold Coast, though.

        • Agreed. City Center’s offerings are higher end than a lot of Georgetown shops, but without the draw of a Sephora, Apple Store, H&M, Lush, Gap, etc to draw in the people who don’t need $200 jeans. The current array of options may be within the means of convention goers or guests at the high end hotels. But without more reasonably priced options to draw them in, I think that most people of average means will just avoid going there. I might go down to City Center for one of the restaurants (and will almost certainly go down for the bakery,) but that’s about it at this writing.

      • I don’t know what building that is in Bethesda, but I would speculate that the units are relatively huge.
        In point of fact, the unit that was reported at $3.5million did indeed sell for $3.2 million a long time ago. (I think it was reported as selling for $3.8million give or take because it was sold in conjunction with a neighboring 1 bedroom, but I’m going to ignore that.) It is a roughly 2000 sq ft unit (with a private terrace). There are very few units of this size in the building, with all but a handful of units falling below the $1.5million mark. That said, I see sales reported for units priced at $2.7million, $2.4million, $2.3million, $2.25million, $2.15million, and two at roughly $2million. Most of these are probably the square footage of one of the smallest unit in that fancy bethesda building you mention.

        • My understanding is that many of these units are going to foreign investors, so they’ll be used as pied-a-terre’s at best; this doesn’t exactly bode well for building retail foot traffic below.

          • The building is only 600-700 units. So it is almost irrelevant if these are 2nd homes or not. These stores will need a much larger target market to survive. Wealthy tourists will help some, but these 20-odd stores won’t put DT DC in a NYC, Paris or even Back Bay Boston level shopping destination.

            At the end of the day, these stores will make or break it on whether they can get the local wealthy to come shop from their homes in Georgetown, Upper NW, Potomac, Mclean, etc. There are some wealthy people in the central city, but it’s not a particularly deep market.

    • I know what you mean but I hope you’re wrong. It’s a great addition to the city (even if I couldn’t afford to shop at any of those spots in a million years). Hopefully the hotels start bringing in a lot more business travelers.

    • I can’t say whether there was a miscalculation on the part of the retail tenants, but high-end retail operates differently from low-end stuff. Because the items are so much more expensive, the volume of sales to maintain the lease and employee salaries is far lower. Just because the stores appear empty compared to something like H&M doesn’t mean that they’re not financially viable. In addition, some of the investment into brick and mortar stores is more about branding than the individual profitability of each store. Loro Piana could decide that the branding benefits of having a store in the downtown area exceeds the cost of the lease, even if it makes 0 sales.

  • Yeah, I know what you mean with that statement. On the other hand, City Center’s condos filled up (despite the $1200/month condo fees) very quickly, and with all of the cash-only property purchases going on in the residential market, it seems to me that there is a kind of latent wealth here in DC. People are used to thinking of this town as government and non-profit workers, but clearly there is other money around. In addition, the hotels brings tourists and tourists are in splurge mode.

  • hooville

    $70 for a 9 inch cake? Is this reasonable now?

  • Just stopped by for a latte and cheddar biscuit. Both were very tasty. RareSweets is off to an excellent start!

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