21 Best Desserts in NYC
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The Best Desserts in NYC
Here are the 21 best desserts in NYC to share with friends and family. Don’t miss out on the best eats in New York City.
About 15 years ago my cousin Ashley created our family’s new favorite holiday… Sugarfest! It is a simple holiday and one we have grown to cherish. Our cousins and siblings meet for one day in New York City and eat our way from the Upper West Side down to the Lower East Side. And the only thing we eat is SUGAR.
Truth be told, by the end of every sugarfest most of us are sick and miserable, but we have discovered some fabulous treats in our years of sugarfesting. We have eaten authentic baklava to yummy brownies from a Hawaiian restaurant in NYC, from freak shakes to simple cupcakes. There is something for everyone on this list.
If you want to do your very own sugarfest, here are the rules:
- Don’t eat an entire Levain’s cookie (we always end of doing that and then are full before we get started!)
- Share treats and just have a bite, or carry a reusable container to put your leftovers in.
- Eat a savory lunch.
- Eat something at every location.
- Go see a Broadway show.
- Get a big NYC hotel room and moan all night long!
If that sounds like fun to you, you are my kind of person! If you would rather pick and choose your best treats you are probably much thinner than I am! No matter your choice, here are my very favorite treats in New York City.
The Best Desserts in New York City
200 Columbus Avenue at 69th Street and various locations
The bakery that started the cupcake craze in NYC is still churning out good old fashioned cupcakes. (I remember standing in an hour long line 10 years ago to get one of their vanilla cupcakes with sprinkles.) While their cupcakes are perfectly yummy, my favorite treat at Magnolia is their banana pudding.
Layers of banana, Nilla wafers, pudding and whipped cream are layered together and put in the refrigerator to meld. A big scoop of the pudding is nestled into a paper cup and ready for your enjoyment. The flavor is big on the banana and the texture is smooth, creamy, sandy and lumpy in all the right ways. It tastes totally nostalgic and wonderfully delicious.
89 E 42nd St.and various locations in NYC
I am a donut lover and my favorite has always been a jelly donut, but halfway through, I’m always over sugared, have messy hands and an overabundance of jelly. I always want it to be better than the reality is. Doughnut Plant has perfected the jelly donut! Instead of injecting gelatinous jelly into the center of a round donut, they inject a tart blackberry jam into each of the 4 corners of a square donut. This ensures that every bite has donut and tart jam. It is pretty much perfection for a jelly donut lover.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my other favorite donut at Doughnut Plant, the creme brûlée donut hole. This tiny round ball is filled with vanilla custard and topped with a torched sugar coating. They are so good it is hard to stop ordering them!
Doughnut Plant has 3 locations throughout Manhattan and they are worth the stop if you even kind of like donuts.
167 West 74th Street and 2 other locations in NYC
If you have read my guide to New York City you already know about my immense love of Levain’s cookies. The are big cookies stuffed with chocolate chips and left with a slightly doughy center! They may be the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Gooey, melty, and enormous.
My favorite is the chocolate cookie with peanut butter chips. It is like a melty Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in cookie form. But I also recommend the chocolate chip and the double chocolate cookies. I hesitate to say I even like the oatmeal raisin cookie.
Levain Bakery also sells a limited amount of breads and other breakfast treats, while they are good, don’t get those and skip the cookies or you will miss out on what makes Levain’s special.
Are you ever in the mood for small sugary pick me up but don’t want something huge? Beard Papa’s might be your new favorite! These golf ball sized cream puffs are made right in front of you and are sweet but light and have a fantastic crunch. The choux pastry is a perfect texture to keep your cream inside your cream puff.
My favorite is the strawberry and the dulce de leche flavors, but the original is pretty darn good too! Beard Papa’s is not an exclusive NYC food, they have locations all over the US and Japan.
Zabar’s is an Upper West Side landmark. This grocery store is full of awoiegah sourced food from all over the world. You can find cheeses from Greece, Olives from France, and crackers from Britain. But when I go to Zabar’s I have only one destination. . . . . Chocolate Cheese Strudel.
Zabar’s makes lots of different flavors of strudels: cherry, pineapple, strawberry, etc. But the chocolate cheese strudel tastes like a chocolate cheesecake wrapped in the flakiest pastry ever. Plus its enormous and great for sharing! Price
3 W 18th St
I have never tasted a single thing I didn’t like at City Bakery, and I have tried almost everything. But I keep coming back to have a delicious pretzel croissant and a decadent cup of hot chocolate.
The pretzel croissant ranks up there with one of my very favorite goodies in NYC! it is a delicious, buttery, flakey croissant that has been studded with pretzel salt. The outside is crunchy and the inside is perfectly soft and lucious. That little bit of added salt takes the croissant to a realm outside of French cuisine and to something that feels very New York.
It should always be paired with the hot chocolate! The hot chocolate is so thick it is almost like drinking a pudding (I don’t know if that sounds appetizing, but it really is!) It is dark, creamy, and slightly bitter, like a great cup of European hot chocolate. If you are visiting in February, City Bakery has a different flavored hot chocolate every day!
City Bakery is a great place to grab breakfast or lunch. They offer a lot of great choices at lunch and if you see that they are serving macaroni and cheese, make sure to grab some.
120 Rivington Street
Supersoon is a relative newcomer to the New York dessert scene, but definitely a great addition.
Supermoon makes basic croissants and turns them into works of culinary art. My favorite one is the key lime pie croissant. Green and regular colored sheets of laminated dough are formed into a traditional croissant shape and then injected with lime curd. Finally it is topped with a flambeed meringue crown.
I also like the newly introduced cruffins, which are half croissant and half muffin!
Make My Cake
2380 Adam C. Powell Blvd.
Before a Levain Bakery opened in Harlem, this was my very favorite place for treats in the neighborhood. It is still a must visit, but I can’t deny my great love for Levain!
Make my cake is a traditional bakery that specializes in cakes and treats of all kinds, but my very favorite thing to get here are the red velvet cupcakes. These are the largest cupcakes you will find at any of the cupcake establishments in the city and they are proof that quality and quantity can’t coexist peacefully. The tangy cream cheese frosting is piled high to give your palette a break from the very sweet and tender cake.
If you find yourself in Harlem pick up half a dozen. They keep really well for a few days.
Alice’s Tea Cup
102 West 73rd Street
This whimsical tea shop offers the opportunity to eat in Alice’s Wonderland and enjoy the simple fun of being young.
I highly recommend the pumpkin scone with caramel glaze. This sweet scone is perfection with a little bit of butter and jam! It isn’t too sweet but it will satisfy your treat craving. If you are stopping in to have afternoon tea, grab a pot of the rose and mint tea, it’s caffeine free and deliciously unique.
1515 Broadway and various location in NYC
If you think of cheesecake when you think of New York, you will be thrilled with Junior’s. This 70 year old New York institution makes my favorite cheesecake ever. My personal favorite of their 20+ cheesecake flavors is the raspberry swirl cheesecake. I love it so much I often order it for my birthday!
My favorite way to enjoy Junior’s Cheesecake is right after I see a broadway show. There are 2 Junior’s within easy walking distance from most Broadway theaters, and they are open until midnight!
225 East 60th Street
Serendipity’s claim to fame are their enormous frozen hot chocolates! No matter the time of year, this treat is a must get. Unfortunately, no matter the time of year, there is a long line out the door.
If you are really set on having a delicious frozen hot chocolate (the peanut butter one is my favorite) plan on getting there by 10:30 in the morning to avoid the long lines. I have waited in a 3 hours line at one point and honestly it’s not worth that. ( I mean really what is?)
In addition to the frozen hot chocolate they sell a limited lunch/dinner menu and have an extensive menu of ice cream creations.
three locations in Manhattan
If you followed our Italy trip at all you would know that Grom was one of our favorite gelato spots. There is a Grom in NYC as well and it tastes every bit as delicious as its Italian counterpart.
Their salted caramel is fabulous as it really brings out the bitter and sweet notes of caramelized sugar. My kids love the panna cotta gelato as well as the plain chocolate.
529 Broome St. and other location in the city
Black Tap was the first place in NYC to get in on the freak shake trend of 2015. Although other places now do a freak shake, Black Tap makes the best and most instagrammable shakes in the city.
My favorite shake is the Sweet and Salty Shake with chocolate and peanut butter all over the rim. The peanut butter flavored shake is topped with pretzels, peanut butter cups, whipped cream, and a sugar daddy.
I would recommend sharing a shake, unless you have a major sweet tooth.
97 Canal Street
Tiger tea is the newest and biggest trend in dessert this year. Tiger Sugar is a Taiwanese chain that does Tiger tea very well. Every hipster you know is instagramming this beautiful drink. The great news is, it’s not only beautiful, it is delicious!
Brown sugar syrup is drizzled into a cup and filled with brown sugar soaked boba. Then it is finished with ice, milk and cream. The exterior of the cup looks like tiger stripes, giving this tea its name.
The tea itself is spectacular! It almost tastes like a dark molassey milk shake with the addition of boba. The boba are always perfectly chewy and the tea is somehow not overly sweet. I highly recommend it.
il laboratorio del gelato
188 Ludlow Street (corner of East Houston St)
Another great place to get your gelato fix is il laboratorio del gelato! This lower east side Gelateria offers gelato in some unusual flavors in a delicious gelato base. You can get your basic chocolate gelato here, but why would you when you could have black mission fig, honey lavender, or olive oil gelato.
Their flavors change daily so it is always a new adventure in gelato!
108 Rivington St.
While this store doesn’t have one particular thing you must try, it has a lot of fabulous choices. Economy Candy has so many different candies crammed into one small shop that you could look for an hour and not see everything!
My favorite candies are the retro ones that are hard to find in other places, and my beloved yogurt Ritter Sport chocolate. You are sure to find something delicious on your trip! Plus, prices are really great.
Momofuku Milk Bar
561 Columbus Ave and 2 other locations in NYC
I’ll start out by saying, you can’t go wrong with ANYTHING here! This bakery has been churning out unusual treats for the last 14 years, and they are constantly coming up with something new and trendy. From their delicious crack pie to their cereal milk ice cream, they are always on the edge of the next cool thing.
My personal favorite treat here is the compost cookie. This cookie is packed with graham crackers, pretzels, oatmeal and caramel. It is sweet and a little bit salty and every bite tastes slightly different.
Dominique Ansel bakery first came to recognition when he invented cronuts. (A croissant donut.) His innovative bakes keep coming and I for one can’t get enough.
I have gone through a few different favorites over the years. Two years ago I was obsessed with his watermelon ice cream that was served inside a slice of watermelon. My new favorite is his frozen s’more which is vanilla ice cream, covered in chocolate, covered in a marshmallow and torched before serving! It is sooo good.
I have only ever walked in to Breads bakery with one thin in mind…chocolate babka. This beautiful enriched dough with swirls of luscious chocolate is so beautiful. The braided loaf twists as ribbons of chocolate ooze from the bread. The bread is tender and light and the chocolate is the predominate component.
They also serve a cinnamon babka that is really good, but I don’t think it’s quite on the same level.
If you are fan of the Netflix show, “Nailed It” you have seen the goofy side of the famous chocolatier. His chocolate chip cookie, however, is no joke! If you are a fan of a thinner, buttery cookie this is the cookie for you. Made with pieces of Jacques Torres chocolate it is a decadent treat.
While you are there pick out a delicious truffle or chocolate and prepare to savor a very complex chocolate flavor.
This is the place for you if you love cookie dough! This sweet shop scoops of big scoops of cookie dough into ice cream cups and cones. The variety of cookie dough changes, but there is always chocolate chip, sugar cookie, and my favorite salt and sweet (chocolate chip cookie with salted caramel).
Get a milkshake with cookie dough blended in, share a cookie dough sundae or get a cookie sandwich with cookie dough as the filling!
All the dough is made with ingredients that are safe to consume in their raw form, so you don’t need to worry about getting sick. Plus there is always a vegan and gluten free option in the scoop shop.
I hope this inspires you to eat some delicious treats while you are visiting New York City! If you need to know what else to do while you are there, visit my post on New York City for Beginners.
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