On the Bayou

Bayou Bakery

901 Pennsylvania Ave SE

Washington, DC 20003



You don’t have to drive down to Louisiana to get a taste of New Orleans. Just South of Pennsylvania Avenue SE stands a brick building that looks more like a church or medieval house than a café. But don’t let the antique chairs and lilac trees outside fool you; Bayou Bakery is a full service café. As I ventured inside, I was greeted by a friendly cashier who took my order for a small iced coffee, which I received seconds after I paid my dues. Once I ordered, I filled my coffee with milk and a pinch of sugar at what is cleverly called “The Sticky Bar.” I walked further into the building, where I found a dark lounge-like space with long mahogany tables and hardly any windows. It was occupied by a couple customers who seemed to be deep in conversation. Past the lounge there is a dining room, which was inhabited by groups of people eating and drinking with family and friends. I decided on a table by the window, until I saw a sign that prohibited computers, and instead encouraged people to use the dining room for eating and conversation. I appreciated the gesture, but I had brought my computer with me, so I continued outside, where most people were sitting, some with their families, some with friends or significant others, and some, like me, spending their Saturday morning by themselves.

I sat next to an interracial couple who was enjoying a meal and a coffee after a morning bike ride. A mother who was feeling the symptoms of the “terrible twos” was frantically keeping tabs on her son, an aspiring social butterfly charming strangers with his irresistible toothless smile. A girl sporting high-wasted levis and a tattoo sleeve sat at a table for two, hard at work on her Macbook Air. I didn’t feel like I was in the corporate, politico-centric city I have come to call home. Instead, I was drinking coffee among strangers minding their own business and doing their own thing. The coffee was refreshing, but so was the atmosphere.

The soundtrack that played as I spent my Saturday in the company of familiar strangers was one of jazz, funk, and doo-wop, fitting for a place with a New Orleans inspired cuisine. The songs on this playlist were all new to me, but they complimented the festive yet laid back ambiance of the café.

If you decide to take a trip to Bayou Bakery, don’t let yourself leave without an order of beignets, which I discovered is a local New Orleans favorite. But be prepared to get your hands a little dirty with this sticky and delicious treat!

Well, that’s all for now. Stay tuned for my next adventure, and if you have ideas or suggestions or just want to say hi, contact me at taralerman13@gmail.com.





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