The Atlanta Cupcake Factory's somewhat homely website brings to mind the old-fashioned bakery's guileless interior. It's a small, bright shop with nothing but a two-by-two case of cupcakes on the counter, and nothing but water, milk and cupcakes on the chalkboard menu. The available cupcake varieties vary, perhaps daily, but it seems like almost every flavor has its charms. If you don't believe me, consider this: today, we (six of us) ordered one of every cupcake available (well, two each of the Red Velvet and Key Lime) and shared them, round robin style. We discovered that each cupcake yielded six frosting-laden bites. And that's the genius of the Cupcake Factory's miniature cakes. They aren't the gargantuan sugar bombs, baked in extra large muffin tins, that pass for cupcakes these days. They are the same size as the cupcakes your mother made using Duncan Hines mix in the kitchen you grew up in, except, for the most part, ten times more delicious because someone actually decided (rightfully) that making cupcakes, and cupcakes alone was the best idea ever. And they were right.
My one reservation is that the varieties based on white cake (the Sugar Cookie Dulce de Leche, Coconut and Sugar Cookie Chocolate) were dry. Otherwise, the cupcakes were moist and the creative frostings were truly standouts. The Key Lime was as creamy as the real thing. The frosting spread across the Chocolate Peanut Butter was so honestly peanut-buttery it could not be believed. I forfeited my bites of the Lemon Lemon and the Strawberry, but they looked like knockouts as well, bright yellow and pink respectively, and smelling strongly of fruit and sugar (that's a good thing!). The Carrot Cake had no raisins and no one had refrigerated the thing until the frosting was a solid log of cream cheese. The menu has some other awesome sounding flavors, including Pumpkin Pie and Chocolate Mint, that weren't out today, but that's how the cookie crumbles when it comes to a real bakery, the sort of place that closes when the cupcakes run out. Charm and a sugar-high don't come cheap, with each delightful cup of joy and butter going for $2.50, but the Atlanta Cupcake Factory is a gem, completely worth a stop-in or a detour.
The Atlanta Cupcake Factory, located at 624 N Highland Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA, 30306, is only open for retail sales Thursday through Sunday.