The Hands-Down Best Bakeries in Chicago for Birthday Cakes

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For a kid, there’s nothing more exciting than a birthday party. And having a great birthday cake—one that tastes good and looks cool—is an important part of their special day. No matter what your child’s superhero, video game or character obsession du jour may be, you will find a Chicago bakery to create a canvas for those candles. Here are our favorites. Make a wish!

Alliance Bakery

Break the cake mold and dream beyond the traditional sheet cake with one-dimension designs. Having served as Executive Pastry Chef at downtown hotels and winning or placing in several design competitions, Chef Peter Rios’ Alliance Bakery is ready to show you that if you can think it, he can bake it. Besides his 3-dimensional edible works of art, Chef shows off skills he picked up training in Paris with his European-inspired pastries and desserts.

1736 W. Division St., Wicker Park; Online: alliance-bakery.com

Bartleby’s Ice Cream Cakes

Some people prefer an ice cream cake to a traditional cake with frosting, but still want it to be as special and unique as the guest of honor. That is exactly where Bartleby’s comes to the rescue! Using the finest ingredients, the cakes are made fresh to order, including the ice cream, and can be customized in any combination of flavors your heart desires. You can also find vegan and gluten-free options, too.

Check site for rotation of pick-up locations around Chicago; Online: bartlebyscakes.com

Bennison’s Bakery

Let’s face it: Some of us are a little more last-minute with party planning than others. If you find yourself cakeless the day of, you could either pull through the nearest Portillo’s drive-thru and enjoy the reaction when you order an entire chocolate cake with a side of cheese fries or you could find a bakery with amazing pre-made cakes. Bennison’s, a North Shore institution since 1938, is one of those gems that stocks delicious 7” and 9” chocolate and yellow cakes with either fudge or buttercream icing. Ask them to fancy it up with the birthday celebrant’s name and you’re good to go.

1000 Davis St., Evanston; Online: bennisoncakes.com

Defloured

Gluten-impervious baker Johanna is only sensitive to wheat in the way she feels that every person should have the ability to enjoy worry-free heavenly desserts. She took on and conquered the challenge of making desserts that were indecipherable from their glutenized counterparts. For kids who might be gluten-sensitive or for anyone just looking for a delicious cake to celebrate their special day, call or send Johanna an email to place an order. Keep your eyes peeled while you’re out and about, you might find samples of these gluten-free goodies at your nearest Whole Foods or coffee shop in addition to their Andersonville storefront.

1477 W. Balmoral, Andersonville; Online: deflouredbakery.com

Elisa’s Cake by the #Pound

Paralegal by day and baker by night, owner Elisa baked her first birthday cake in 2014 for her daughter’s 4th birthday. After six years of keeping her love of baking a “hobby”, she relocated to Chicago and turned her hobby into a thriving business.  And, we are oh so glad she did! Reach out today and see for yourself just why Elisa’s Cake by the #Pound was named one of the “50 Best Black-Owned Bakeries in the US” by Travel Noire.

Online: elisascakebythepound.com

Eméche Cakery & Cafe

Eméché means “tipsy” in french, and owner Janell got her start making alcohol-infused cupcakes for her friends and neighbors while living in Brooklyn. Soon the orders became so frequent that Eméché was born and materialized as a brick & mortar store back in her hometown of Chicago. While the menu offers a full variety of pastries, drinks, cheesecakes and treats, the birthday cakes are amazing. The buttercream alone has amassed quite a fan club. As a bonus, online ordering makes ordering a cake a breeze. 

3453 S. Prairie Ave., Bronzeville; Online: emechecakeryandcafe.com

Roeser’s Bakery

It doesn’t get any more old school than Chicago’s oldest family-owned bakery, which has been servicing Humboldt Park sweet tooths since 1911. As a specialty, Roeser’s offers low-glycemic options for birthday boys and girls who could benefit from reduced sugar, carbs and calories. Follow the bakery’s iconic neon sign to find cakes baked using recipes perfected over 4 generations with culinary skills to decorate to any theme you could possibly imagine, including a wide variety of licensed character cakes. Pop into Roeser’s Party Palace next door to tick decorations off your birthday planning checklist.

3216 W. North Ave., Humboldt Park; Online: roeserscakes.com

Sweet Mandy B’s

When you hit up Sweet Mandy B’s you can’t fight the urge to slow the pace and plant yourself to savor whatever treasure you find in the glass encasement and soak up the old-school nostalgia. One taste of their icing will have you wishing you had a vat full and a giant spoon. Call the bakery or stop in to place your special cake order and enjoy the warmth the pastel colors and old-fashioned decor evokes.

1208 W. Webster Ave., Lincoln Park & 254 E. Ontario, Streeterville; Online: sweetmandybs.com

Sweet Ali’s

Inspired by her son’s, and subsequently her own, celiac diagnosis and lack of quality baked goods available in 2007, Ali Graeme set out to blaze gluten-free trails. After playing in her kitchen with different blends of flour and receiving encouragement from family, she opened Sweet Ali’s two years later with recipes perfected that all would enjoy, gluten-free or otherwise. Beyond the cakes, you’ll find pre-packed pasta, bread and baked goods to enjoy later.

13 W. 1st St., Hinsdale & 1107 Waukegan Rd., Glenview; Online: sweetalis.com

Sweet Natalie’s/Baby Doll Bakery

Sweet Natalie’s is a bake shop that sells products from a select group of talented and local specialty bakers. They are a group of small businesses working together to bring customers a unique experience and a variety of baked goods. While Sweet Natalie’s is not a certified gluten-free facility, all bakers at Sweet Natalie’s utilize dedicated, gluten-free facilities for production. For those looking for vegan options, they also provide many vegan baked goods as well. If you’re not a planner, they have celebration cakes and cupcakes available. For something specific, contact them to create a custom celebration cake. (Note: Sweet Natalie’s will soon be Baby Doll Bakery.)

207 S. Hale St., Wheaton; Online: sweetnataliesbakery.com

West Town Bakery & Diner

Whether you’re seeking a traditional cake or need to spin the wheel of dietary restrictions — vegan, nut-free, sugar-free, soy-free and gluten-free — this organic bakery with a funky, retro vibe can knock your cake request out of the ballpark. They strive to use as many local, natural ingredients for everything from the flour down to the eggs and their products come in environmentally friendly packaging. West Town Bakery also makes some of the city’s best smash cakes for baby’s first birthday!

1916 W. Chicago Ave., West Town; Online: westtownbakery.com

Urban Icing

If your birthday star doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight with a 3D T-rex cake, or maybe a unicorn with an edible golden horn, then Urban Icing is the place for you. In addition to being a boutique bakery, Urban Icing is an event space that will take care of all the details of your child’s party.  You can choose from a Lego Party, Mermaid Party, Ice Cream Social and more. There’s something fun—and delicious—for everyone.

1944 N. Damen Ave., Bucktown; Online: urbanicing.com

— Sara Yaniga

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