Blueberry Muffin at Au Cheval ($5)
At five bucks, Au Cheval's is the priciest muffin I came across, but it's also the biggest. On top of that, it's chock-full of sweet, tart blueberries and baked to perfection. Deliciously crumbly top, fluffy interior, and inviting sweetness. This muffin eats other muffins for breakfast.
Cherry Oat Muffin at Alliance Bakery ($1.95)
A spongy interior, mellow brown-sugar sweetness, and a toasted, caramelized-bran flavor set this muffin apart. Its sweetness is in check, even while stocked with chewy dried cherries that lend the muffin subtle red-fruit notes.
Banana Espresso Muffin at Little Goat Bread ($2)
Of all the muffins, this one is the brooder of the group. Subtle flavors of bittersweet chocolate and espresso give depth to the presence of baking spices and brown sugar. The steelier influence of espresso helps to temper the creamy softness of banana, resulting in a kind of restrained banana bread in muffin form (albeit with a square stump—weird!).
Coconut Pecan Muffin at Milk & Honey Café ($2.25)
This gem of a muffin bursts with complex and refreshingly natural flavors. When I cracked it open I found real pieces of coconut mingling with nutty, fleshy candied pecans. The sugary top provides another dimension of crunch. The interior has an airy, spongy structure, lending each bite a range of textures.
Snickerdoodle Muffin at Reno ($2.75)
While not overly sweet, Reno's snickerdoodle muffin could easily be mistook for a dessert thanks to its resemblance in flavor and texture to cinnamon coffee cake. The crumbly top and exterior give way to a moist and fluffy interior. Veins of cinnamon marbling descend from the top, which features a pleasant crystalline-sugar crunch.
Vegan Chocolate Muffin at Fritz Pastry ($3)
This dense, sweet, super-moist muffin has a rich, round flavor that fluctuates between milk and dark chocolate. Which makes sense, since it's downright packed with chocolate chips. Vegan margarine subs in for butter here, but it's hardly noticeable. You'll be much more tuned in to the this muffin's fantastic chewiness.
Blueberry Bran Muffin at Fox & Obel ($1.99)
Banana Nut Muffin at Kingsbury Street Café ($2.25)
With one of the most pillowy textures of the group, Kingsbury Street Café's banana nut muffin is almost pancake-batter-like in crumb consistency thanks to the hefty dose of creamy banana. The smooth center is complemented by toasted notes provided by the walnuts on top.
Apple Yogurt Muffin at Letizia's Natural Bakery ($2.50)
A tart slice of apple nestles into the peak of this handsome little muffin, which has a creamy-crunchy top supported by a tightly packed yet not overly cakey crumb. Overall this example was deliciously moist and noticeably buttery, with a warming, baked-apple flavor throughout.
Sour Cherry Oatmeal Muffin at m.henry ($2.50)
Dusted with confectioner's sugar, this tasty option from m.henry's bakery case is topped with bits of toasted oats and stuffed with crushed cherries. But it was the flavor that most intrigued me about this muffin; it reminded me of sweet cherry liqueur. Very mature for a muffin.