There are people in this world who prefer savory, rich or spicy dishes. And then there are the people who have a sweet tooth the size of Manhattan. This list is for the latter among us.
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Even if you’re firmly in the sweet-is-better-than-savory camp, it’s likely that you have major preferences over what kind of sugary treat is best, which is why New York is so fantastic. In every neighborhood from the Lower East Side to the Bronx and everywhere in between, one can find a range of dessert options at any hour of the day.
For purists looking for an upgrade, artisan ice cream parlors like Ample Hills Creamery should do the creamy, cool trick. On the other end of the spectrum, places like Dominique Ansel Bakery (home of the Cronut) are busy whipping up fancy, fusion endeavors that reign supreme the world over. Cookie shots, anyone?
No matter which you prefer – heck, you can even have both! – this list will help point you in the right direction and give you plenty of options to keep you wired for days. Call up your dentist because we have a feeling after perusing the below, you’ll be over-indulging with the best of them.
Big Gay Ice Cream started as an ice cream truck but now has three permanent locations in New York City and one in Philly. Their ice cream – a collab with Ronnybrook Farm Dairy – is a take on the soft serve custard native New Yorkers grew up on.
Tall swirls stacked on top of cones are often dipped in chocolate, or covered in caramel, and adorned with fun names like the Bea Arthur or Salty Pimp. Though the two partners behind the magic have extended their brand far and wide, it’s the ice cream, not the names that have won them acclaim.
Recommended for Dessert because: It’s where to go when you want to celebrate Pride year-round.
Andrea’s expert tip: Bring a few extra bucks and buy some merch. Who doesn’t need a rainbow ice cream swirl t-shirt?
Read more about Big Gay Ice Cream →
When pastry chef Dominique Ansel opened his eponymous bakery on a tree-lined SoHo side street in 2011, it immediately won scores of local fans loyal to his miniature meringues, chocolate-covered cannelle and flaky French pastries. But it’s the popular Cronut, a fusion favorite that is half croissant and half doughnut, that has garnered countless headlines. Pro tip: call ahead to skip the line. Forgot to pre-dial and don’t have time to wait on line? Opt for a cookie cup instead. Not as famous as the Cronut, but certainly delicious, this shot glass is made from cookies, coated in chocolate and topped off with vanilla-infused milk. Not too shabby.
Read more about Dominique Ansel Bakery →
Supplied with the freshest ingredients from nearby Union Square Farmer’s Market, this wonderful American bakery specializes in all of the good stuff: scrumptious scones, marvelous muffins and an array of buttery baked goods. The loft-like, balconied dining room is a great place to watch people as they swarm the horseshoe-shaped bakery counter below. Chances are they’re after one of two things: a chewy, salty and stretchy pretzel croissant or a cup of thick, molten hot chocolate – City Bakery is known city-wide for these signature items. Ordering one, or both is probably one of the best ways to start your morning off with a smile.
Recommended for Dessert because: It’s regarded by many as the best dessert spot in the city.
Andrea’s expert tip: During the holidays, snag a seat in the balcony so you can people watch the madness below.
Read more about City Bakery →
Balthazar oozes a cool vibe that’s impossible to replicate. Perfectly positioned on a Soho corner, this is the breakfast spot of the rich and famous. It’s not uncommon to spot a celebrity, and of course, the food is divine. Billed as a French brasserie, the energy is something else entirely – not quite New York, not nearly Paris. Instead, it feels like its own little world, a hideaway for anyone who’s in on the secret. We’d recommend visiting for brunch and then popping over to indulge in the bakery where you’ll find decadent options like flourless chocolate cake, lemon tarts and pistachio opera cake.
Recommended for Dessert because: It’s a traditional French bakery with an added layer of cool.
Andrea’s expert tip: Ask for a peek at the bakery’s operations and your wish may be granted.
Read more about Balthazar →
Doughnut Plant fanatics run rampant in the streets of New York. With flavors like Blackout, a chocolate cake doughnut, filled with chocolate pudding, dipped in chocolate glaze and sprinkled with chocolate cake crumbs, it’s not hard to see why. Doughnut Plant also makes all of the jellies for their signature jelly doughnuts in-house – perhaps a mark of the quality passed down from owner Mark Rosati’s grandfather, himself a baker and the creator of the first cake mix in the 1930s. Whatever the reason, the craze is spreading – Rosati recently teamed up with Shake Shack for a sweet collaboration and has opened shops in both Chelsea and Tokyo. You can also find these doughnuts all over town in various cafes and restaurants.
Recommended for Dessert because: It redefined what New Yorkers think about the humble doughnut.
Andrea’s expert tip: Honestly, you could close your eyes, point and still walk away happy. Get more than one.
Read more about Doughnut Plant →
Photo courtesy of Ample Hills
Ample Hills Creamery seemingly popped up out of nowhere, but locals couldn’t be happier about it. The husband and wife duo at the helm of Ample Hills opened the first location in 2011 and from there, the rest is sweet sweet history.
Part of what makes Ample Hills’ stuff so great is that it starts with high-quality ingredients like hormone-free milk from grass-fed cows and organic cane sugar. The other part of the magic is the mix-ins. Mostly made in-house, from scratch, they include everything from peppermint patties to pistachio brittle to brownies and more.
Though we’re partial to the Gowanus spot, with its adorable rooftop seating and slightly off-beat location, the goodness can be found all around the city at permanent locations and seasonal pop-ups.
Recommended for Dessert because: It’s the dessert that New Yorkers the city over hold near and dear.
Andrea’s expert tip: The menu at each location is different and changes regularly, so check their social media for daily flavors.
Read more about Ample Hills Creamery →
Sure, it’s touristy, but there’s something about Max Brenner’s Union Square location that feels magical. Maybe it’s the chocolate piping that runs along the ceiling or the massive vats of melted cocoa churning in the corner.
In any case, this place is a chocolate fanatic’s fantasyland. While it’s hard to go wrong with anything here, a good place to start is with the Hug Mug, an ergonomically shaped cup of hot chocolate that’s perfect for sipping. From there, move on to the crepes or sugar waffles, or split a chocolate fondue for the table. Afterward, the gift shop is a great place to snag some fun mug-ware to take home.
Recommended for Dessert because: It’s a chocolate lover’s paradise in the heart of Union Square.
Andrea’s expert tip: Surprisingly, brunch is worth visiting for. Try anything that features their chocolate alongside your entree.
Read more about Max Brenner – Union Square →
Romantic movie fanatics will remember this restaurant from the 2001 John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale film, Serendipity. In the movie, the two stars share a dessert that kick starts their love affair and consequently cements this spot in lover’s minds forever. Due to the popularity of this dessert haven and their now infamous frozen hot chocolate, be prepared to wait before being seated. However, if you’re willing to eat more than just dessert, the restaurant takes reservations for dinner. Looking to pull off a romantic stunt of your own? Serendipity’s “The Golden Opulence Sundae” may be your answer. Covered in 23-karat edible gold leaf, this creamy treat costs $1,000, making it one of the most expensive desserts money can buy.
Recommended for Dessert because: It’s a chance to recreate movie magic and indulge in a delicious dessert.
Andrea’s expert tip: If you make dinner reservations, you’ll skip the long queue at the front door.
Read more about Serendipity 3 →
In NYC, there are few places better to satiate your sweet tooth than at Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar. Stocked to the rafters with cookies, cakes and pies, everything here is delicious, but purists will insist you try the Milk Bar Pie. Formerly named “crack pie” for its addictive qualities, this pie is a mess of gooey butter filling in a toasted oat crust. The Milk Bar has locations all around town, but if you absolutely need to get a fix while you’re out of town, good news: Milk Bar delivers nationwide, so there’s no excuse to skimp out on the goodness.
Recommended for Dessert because: Christina Tosi redefined what dessert could be with her sugary confections and partnership with chef David Chang.
Andrea’s expert tip: Christina Tosi was forced to rename her “crack pie” to “Milk Bar pie” after a social media outcry that the name was insensitive, but the sentiment still stands: it’s addictive and a must-try.
Read more about Milk Bar →
Photo courtesy of Black Tap Instagram
If you’ve ever wondered what a milkshake would look like if Buddy the Elf or Willy Wonka had their way, welcome to Black Tap. These outrageous milkshakes have turned Instagram on its head, with many visitors adding Black Tap to their lists of NYC “musts.” But it’s not just tourists going gah-gah over these gooey treats. New Yorkers are also lining up in droves to dig in. With toppings like cotton candy, whole pieces of cake and drippy chocolate and caramel, these photo-worthy sugar bombs are definitely a super special treat. This joint also serves up burgers and beers, in case there’s any humanly possible way you’re hungry after demolishing this monster.
Recommended for Dessert because: These Instagram worthy milkshakes are over-the-top in the best possible way.
Andrea’s expert tip: Take a friend – reviewers say you can tackle the beast on your own, but it’s more enjoyable with two.
Read more about Black Tap →