Life is Uncertain, Eat Dessert First: Desserts you MUST eat in New York City
So New York is famous for an incredible number of things, but my favorite part of this place is the decadent, plethora of desserts you MUST eat in New York City. Now, why such an emphasis on the sweet, and not the savory, you may wonder. Well, anyone who knows me knows that I am a total sugar whore. It is seriously my favorite part of the meal and to be honest, I would skip all the savory stuff in a minute, if I didn’t think I would loss all my teeth and develop Diabetes (Being toothless is not a good look for sure).
Dessert also has a special place in my heart because it reminds me of my mom, who passed away five years ago. She loved desserts so much, that she actually used to give me chocolate cake for breakfast, and when I asked why, she responded with her personal motto, “Life’s uncertain, eat dessert first”. Now, each time I eat dessert, I feel somehow closer to her and her memory. It is in these moments of nostalgia that I can fondly remember all the time that we went to Junior’s for cheesecake, after a Broadway Play. And each time I remember her, it is a little more self-assurance that I will never forget who she was and how much she meant to me.
But the sweet treats in New York City are truly a unique brand of delicious that is hard to find in any other parts of the world. Seriously, dessert is to New York as jelly is to peanut butter; one is simply so much better when you compliment it with the other. For that very reason, no trip to New York is complete without a journey into the depth and breadth of confectionary delights that New York City has to offer.That
is why I offer you this road map of sorts, to help you figure out just where to stop when your sweet tooth kicks in and screams, “Feed me!”
15 Desserts you MUST eat in New York City
1. 10 Below – This rolled ice cream purveyor not only uses fresh, organic ingredients, but they also make the ice cream, to order, right in front of you. Inspired by how ice cream is made in Thailand, 10 below starts with advanced cold plates that are cooled to -10 degrees (hence the name). Fresh cream is then poured atop the plate, while various mix ins are added. The result? Fresh, delicious ice cream rolls in two minutes, without any added fat or emulsifiers. They literally look like little ice cream tacos that will make anyone’s stomach, and heart, happy, with unique floors
like Cookie Monster (Yum), Fruity Bam Bam (Yum), and I love you a latte (But they have a list of mix ins so you can basically make any flavor you want.
Address: 10 Mott St NY, NY 10013 (Chinatown), with multiple locations
Hours: Sun – Thur: 12pm – 10pm and Fri – Sat: 12pm – 11:30pm
2. Magnolia Bakery – This bakery might be better known for its cupcakes, but the banana pudding here is to die for (I also really love their cupcakes but stay away from their blondies. I was NOT a fan). The creamy, fruity delight is packed with rich, banana goodness (if you like that sort of thing. Lol). This pudding awesomeness comes in either classic banana, or dare to be different and order the chocolate-banana instead. Either way, you can’t go wrong, but bring extra spoons because everyone will want a bite!
Address: Grand Central Terminal in the lower dining concourse (multiple other locations).
Hours: Mon – Fri: 7:30am-10pm, Sat: 9am-10pm and Sun: 9am-8pm
3. Levain Bakery – The cookies here are better than the one’s mom used to make (actually, what am I talking about? My mom never made cookies) or Martha Stewart, if you’re mom was an M.I.A. baker. Not only are they decadently moist and gooey (so if you’re looking for a cookie with a crunch, you’re outta luck), but they are enormous in size and flavor, with such traditional varieties as chocolate chip
walnut, dark chocolate peanut butter chip, oatmeal raisin, etc. That’s why, it should come as no surprise that that there’s typically a line out the door. But that’s okay because they’re totally worth the wait, scout’s honor (and I really was a girl scout). To avoid this line, head to the Harlem location at 2167 Frederick Douglas Boulevard.
Address: Levain Bakery, 167 West 74th Street (at Amsterdam Avenue); 212-874-6080
Hours: Mon – Sat: 8am-7pm and Sun: 9am-7pm
4. Doughnut Plant – No shocker that this worldwide franchise ranks on this list. But with a ton of varieties (cake doughnuts, yeast doughnuts, dough seeds, etc.) and flavors to choose from (Creme Brûlée, Tres Leches, Carrot Cake, etc.), how could it not be? And while the assortment of available flavor options is awe inspiring, this bakery is truly renowned for it’s use of high quality ingredients, to create amazing doughnuts that are packed to the brim with an epic amount of flavor (Think heaven in your mouth and yes, it’s THAT good). While this bakery has been churning out many different doughnut varieties since 1994, the doughnut that you must order here is the Brooklyn Blackout cake doughnut. This chocolate lovers dream is a chocolate cake doughnut, filled with chocolate, dipped in chocolate, and, you guessed it, sprinkled with EVEN more chocolate. One of my favorites and totally worth every single calorie (I hate running but would run a marathon for this doughnut).
Address: 220 West 23rd Street, between 7th & 8th Avenues (multiple locations)
Hours: Sun – Wed: 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Thur – Sat: 7 a.m. – 12 a.m.
5. Black Tap Down – Chances are, you have seen an internet video floating around, featuring massive milkshakes that are literally, overflowing with an assortment of confectionary delights. Well, that video
is from this place, and the milkshakes here are just as amazing as they look. Sure, Black Tap is an actual restaurant, that serves savory foods, but don;t waste the calories and go straight for the dessert menu (their savory food is good though). They have assortment of classic shakes, but I would walk on the wild side and order one of their “Crazy Shakes”. Yes, the price is a bit steep at $15 a pop, but so worth it with flavors like sweet n’ salty peanut butter shake, cotton candy strawberry shake, the (vanilla) cookie shake, Sour power black cherry shake, and the Brooklyn blackout chocolate shake. No m
atter which one you choose, these monster milkshakes are the stuff that, dessert dreams are made of. Just imagine layers of frozen cream, fudge, doughnuts, sprinkles, candy, slices of cake, etc. Just do yourself a favor and bring a friend, so that you don’t have to roll out of here.
Address: 529 Broome Street (between Sullivan and Thompson streets). Also check their website for additional locations.
Hours: Mon -Wed: 11:00am – 12:00am, Thur-Sat: 11:00am – 1:00am and Sun: 11:00am – 12:00am
6. Momofuku Milk Bar – Hmm… How do I find the words to describe the series of insanely awesome, confectionary delights that emerge from this dream of a bakery? Dare I say, food crack, because that is exactly what it is. The desserts here are just in their own stratosphere, so your biggest problem will be deciding what to order; and with flavors like cornflake, chocolate chip, marshmallow cookies, chocolate malt cake truffles, crack pie (SOO good!!! A toasted oat crust with a gooey butter filling that is way better than it sounds), and a salted pretzel cake, the selection process is rather daunting. I suggest indulging in a bit of nostalgia and ordering Momofuku’s birthday cake. The milk bar entirely reimagined this funfetti cake mix of our childhood and created a culinary masterpiece of the future. Just think vanilla rainbow cake, layered with rainbow cake crumbs, and topped with vanilla frosting (Way better than the Diunkaroos I had in my lunch box as a kid).
Address: 15 w 56th street, between 5th and 6th avenues (multiple locations in their website.
Hours: Sun – Wed: 8am – 11pm and Thur – Sat: 8am – 12am
7. Junior’s – This Brooklyn, dessert institution, has been serving up cheesecake masterpieces since the 1950s; and you don’t stay in business that long if you don’t know how to make great, New York style cheesecake (not to be confused with Italian style cheesecake, which is very different). They do this by combing premium cream cheese, whipping cream, eggs, a dash of vanilla, to create the smoothest and creamiest cheesecake that New York City has to offer. And the best part, it’s sold everywhere!! I literally see it in the grocery store all the time, so you don;t actually have to go to Junior’s to get it.
Address: 1515 Broadway, New York near 45th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue (Times Square restaurant but many other locations)
Hours: Mon–Thurs: 6:30am–12am, Fri and Sat: 6:30am–1am, and Sun: 6:30-11pm
8. Dominique Ansel Bakery – Ever heard of the cornet (croissant, doughnut)? Well if you have, this place started it all. And it’s no surprise with such innovative spins, on childhood favorites, like cookies and milk. When you visit, try their famous, “cookie shots” which are only served after 3 p.m. This fun dish is created by taking an ooey-gooey cookie cup, and coated in chocolate, so that you can create a water tight seal. The cookie is then filled with a shot of vanilla-infused milk. And the best part is that you don’t have to race here, before the sun comes up, to enjoy this tasty treat.
Address: 189 Spring Street (Between Sullivan and Thompson Streets)
Hours: 8am Mon – Sat: 8am to 7pm and Sun: 9am to 7pm
9. Spot Dessert Bar -This St. Marks dessert institution is home to an array of quirky and creative confectionary marvels. Seriously, if Willy Wonka had a restaurant, this would be it. And while there is nothing bad on the menu, my current favorites are the matcha lava cookies (a think and moist, brownie-like cookie that oozes a gooey, matcha filling when you bite into it) and the molten chocolate cake with both fudge chocolate and green tea ganache at it’s center (a rich, velvety scoop of green tea ice cream adorns this molten chocolate marvel). And while I am not typically a fan of matcha, i’ll happily devour it when it’s served like this.
Address: 13 St Marks Place (between 2nd and 3rd Avenue)
Hours: Sun – Wed: 12pm – 12am and Thur – Sat: 12pm – 1am
10. DŌ – From the outside, DŌ looks like any other local, ice cream shop. But when you see the insanely long line of people waiting to get inside, you realize that this place is something special. That’s because this shop in Greenwich Village doesn’t sell ice cream cones. They actually sell freshly made cookie dough cones in a variety of exciting flavors. So, gone are the days when cookie dough lovers used to purchase cookie dough in secret, under the guise that they were making cookies (Oh the lies and shame! Lol). Now,cookie dough enthusiasts everywhere can embrace their passion in public, by enjoying such scrumptious varieties as sugar cookie, chocolate chip, brownie batter, confetti, and snickerdoodle (to name a few). And if that isn’t enough of an incentive to get you here, cookie dough flavors can also be ordered in gluten-free, vegan, or grain-free varieties. So that friend you have, who can’t really eat anywhere, yeah, bring them. They’ll love you forever.
Address: 550 LaGuardia Place (at West 3rd Street)
Hours: Mon: CLOSED, Tue and Wed: 10 am – 9 pm, Thur – Sat: 10 am – 10 pm, and Sunday: 10 am – 9pm (subject to early closure if they run out)
11. Underwest Donuts – This place isn’t fancy at all. In fact, it is actually located in a carwash, right by the Intrepid. That’s why, if you judged this place by it’s unassuming exterior, you would have no idea of the doughnut genius that lies within. But the absolute best part is that not only is it cheap, but it’s quiet! I went on a Saturday morning and there was literally no one there. I just devoured (I tried to be dainty but it was too good) my vanilla, lavender doughnut in peace, as I watched the cars roll through the carwash. And I would come back in a heart beat because the doughnuts are light, moist, sweet, cake doughnuts that have no trace of grease. Seriously some of the best doughnuts I have ever had (with some super cool flavors too).
Address: 638 W 47th St, New York, NY
Hours: Mon: 6:30am – 3pm, Tue-Fri: 6:30am – 5pm, Sat: 7:30am – 5pm, and Sun: 7:30am – 3pm
12. Flex Mussels – I know, this one sounds like a Manhattan seafood restaurant. Well, thats because it is. But they have way more then seafood, otherwise Flex Mussels would not be on this list. Manhattan, you better be in for more than seafood. With a nine flavor doughnut collection (fluffernutter, PB&J, cinnamon sugar, salted caramel, chocolate, wild blueberry, meyer lemon, raspberry, and s’mores) and a jaw dropping sauce (strawberry vanilla bean) that you can dip these munchkin size doughnuts in, you may want to skip dinner and go straight for dessert .
Address: 154 West 13th Street and 174 East 82nd Street
Hours: Mon – Thur: 5:30pm – 10:00pm, Fri: 5:30pm – 11:00pm, Sat: 11:30am – 11:00pm, and Sun: 11:30am – 10:00pm
13. Ring Ding Bar – You remember those Hostess snack cakes from your youth? You know, the chocolate cakes with t
he cream filling? Or how about that memorable, commercial tag line that uttered, “Hey, where’s the cream filling?” Well, this childhood staple has been revamped into a gourmet, snack cake du jour by Chopped champ, Madeline Lancing. This Tribeca sweet shop has transformed these hand held snack cakes into a culinary dream with fluffy, coated layer cakes, that are packed with delicious fillings like chocolate-covered cherry, Nutella, lemon crème, and more. So stop by and remember your
childhood, just without the preservatives.
Address: 179 Duane Street, New York, New York
14. Union Fare Bakery – Last but not least is this modern eatery, with an assortment of food stands to choose from. But the real gem here is the Union Fare bakery, with some amazing croissant creations, that you need to see, and eat, to believe. These buttery flakey, carb loaded, bits of goodness, are filled with such innovative flavors as red velvet, birthday cake, and matcha. The result is a perfect balance of the savory, pastry exterior, with the sweet, dessert like interior. Let’s just say, I used to think Parisian croissants were good, but then I tasted these (Just kidding! France still has the best croissants, but these are fight up there).
Address: Union Fare, 6 E. 18th Street (Between 5th Avenue and Broadway)
Hours: Mon – Sun: 8am – 9pm
15. Molly’s Cupcakes – Ummm, yeah. I like Magnolia cupcakes, but I LOVE Molly’s cupcakes. But don’t take my word for it. Not only have they won cupcake wars, but this store was voted best cupcake bakery by Voice and one of the 10 best cupcake bakeries by USA Today. Now, you may assume that when you visit this bakery, you just get a regular cupcake right? WRONG!! Molly’s is known for their center-filled cupcakes: with decadent and innovative flavors like Cake Batter, Creme Brûlée, peanut butter Nutella, Cookie Monster, and peach cobbler. Seriously the most AMAZING cupcakes of my life. So moist and delicious
without being overpoweringly sweet. They just put all other cupcakes to shame, plan and simple.
Address: 228 Bleecker Street New York City New York 10014
Hours: Mon: 12:00pm – 10:00pm, Tue – Thur: 8:00am – 10:00pm,
Fri/Sat: 8:00am – 12:00am, and Sun: 9:00am – 10:00pm