I know Back Alley Waffles gets its name from its location in the back of an alley, but that fact bears repeating. Because I had a tough time finding the place, even armed with the address (1209 10th St. NW Rear).
I came from M Street and walked north up 10th, keeping my eyes peeled for 1209. No dice. I unknowingly passed the alley three times. Then, I realized that the narrow brick drive off 10th Street containing a parking lot was, in fact, an alley. I walked down it, hung a left at the blue building at the corner and wound up staring at a sign for Back Alley Waffles. The location might be obvious to others, but until I saw that sign, I was legitimately perplexed. Oh, go ahead, laugh at me, a directionally challenged person.
All my self-doubt and confusion melted away after I sat down inside the tiny cafe, which is filled with tall mosaic panels made by co-owner Craig Nelsen. My waffle ($8), the only non-beverage item on the menu, arrived coated in maple syrup and topped with a massive dollop of house-made butter. Even though I wasn’t particularly hungry, I couldn’t stop myself from eating the entire thing. It was simple and sweet and addictive. I can make good waffles myself, but this was better.
And maybe this is the sugar high talking, but I was kind of charmed by Back Alley’s hard-to-find location. It’s like a secret breakfast oasis (it helps that I was one of only two diners there at 9:30 a.m. on a Monday). The secret’s out now — but good luck getting there.