Sisters and owners Marena Regalado (left) and Melissa Emlinger. Photo by Lynae Sowinski


Cupcake lovers might think they’ve tried every flavor imaginable, but because the confections at The Underground Cupcake Company and Café in Ellettsville are often made-to-order from customer requests, anything goes.

“Someone wanted a black-licorice cupcake,” says Melissa Emlinger, who owns the bakery and café with her sister Marena Regalado. “We used Jägermeister [a German liqueur], and they really did taste like licorice. We didn’t sell them to anybody else, but the customer who ordered them loved them.”

With 24-hours’ notice, customers can special order as few as a dozen cupcakes in any flavor they dream up—and have them delivered free of charge anywhere in the Bloomington/Ellettsville area.

While Emlinger makes the cupcake dreams come true, she leaves the cooking to her sister. Regalado serves up soups and sandwiches featuring lean meats and fresh vegetables. Soups change daily, and since the café opened in March 2012, Regalado has offered more than 50 varieties. Recent selections include West African peanut soup, three kinds of pumpkin soup, and broccoli noodle, a customer favorite.

The café also offers gluten-free bread for sandwiches, along with vegetarian and vegan options. Gluten-free, vegan, and sugar-free cupcakes are available every Wednesday and by special order.

The café is a family affair—three other family members work alongside Emlinger and Regalado: Emlinger’s son, Eric; Regalado’s daughter, Kate; and their mother, Marsha Dodds.

“Food has always been a passion in our family,” says Regalado. The idea for the café began when Emlinger started developing cupcake recipes and baking out of her home for family and friends. “I knew I had clients, but I wanted Marena onboard because she’s an excellent cook,” Emlinger says.

Emlinger has dreamt up more than 70 flavors of cupcakes, including a popular series showcasing wines from Oliver Winery; others feature liqueurs, even energy drinks. There are seasonal varieties, too, including pumpkin spice in the fall, berry flavors in the summer, and peppermint for the winter holidays. And standard-issue cupcakes—vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, and chocolate/peanut butter—are always available.

The café is at 3631 W. State Road 46.