Kafe Leopold is a European gem hidden away in a Georgetown alley. Based on the art posters hanging in the hallways, it’s safe to assume that this kafe and konditorei (German for pastry shop) was inspired by the Leopold Museum of Austrian art in Vienna. The menu features Austrian favorites like schnitzel and bratwurst and a very wide selection of cakes and pastries.
I’ve been to Kafe Leopold several times now, and I’ll admit that I’ve only gone for the dessert. Going out for just dessert and coffee is such a European concept that I feel like I’m transported to Belgrade (the place I spend most of my summers) every time I come to Kafe Leopold.
(beautiful pastries from Belgrade and Vienna)
I went to Vienna last summer and I absolutely LOVED it! The desserts in Vienna are similar in quality, creativity and variety to those I’ve had in Belgrade. I tell all my friends in the US that American cakes are absolutely incomparable to anything you can find in Belgrade (or Vienna). Kafe Leopold, however, comes very close!
This post is basically a cumulative review of all the cakes and pastries I have tried on my multiple visits to Kafe Leopold. What I’ve learned is that you really can’t go wrong with any dessert you try; all the options are good options.
If you’re going to Kafe Leopold just for the dessert, ignore the menu you’re given and head straight to the display cabinet of desserts. Here you can see all of their beautiful offerings for the day. I like to try something different each time I go, and I tend to make my options based on what has the prettiest presentation.
The topfentorte ($6.75) is a creamy mango cheesecake filled with passion fruit jelly and topped with glazed fruits. It’s served on a crunchy, graham cracker-y base, which adds a nice, slightly salty kick to the sweet dessert.
The fraisier ($7.50) is made of pistachio mousse, filled with strawberries, and wedged between almond cake slices. It’s all topped off with a fresh strawberry and strawberry glaze. The dessert is delightfully sweet and creamy and the fruit-and-nut combination is delicious!
The marille ($7) is a tart made of apricots baked in pistachio cream. The texture is sticky and chewy, making you slow down and enjoy the dessert without scarfing it down. The dollop of whipped cream served with every dessert is thick and heavy, but unsweetened, so it helps neutralize any overly-saccharine desserts.
The papillotte ($6.50) is a milk chocolate bundle filled with a praline meringue and an almond-hazelnut mousse. This is actually my least favorite of all the desserts I’ve tried. The presentation is beautiful, but the filling is too dry.
I love the atmosphere at Leopold’s. Diners can sit outside by a fountain nestled in a small courtyard below the staircase that hides the cafe from the rest of Georgetown. My favorite time to eat here is at night, because that’s when tealight candles illuminate each table. The doors of a neighboring nightclub glow like a color-changing lava lamp, further adding to the magical ambiance.
The interior of the restaurant is modern European chic. Everything is white, except for the sculptural spiral, red seat in the center of the dining area. A wall of floor-to-ceiling windows makes diners feel like they’re outside.
While the pastries are a bit pricy (much more so than in Vienna or Belgrade), I highly recommend Kafe Leopold for a special treat. A visit here is like a mini European vacation.