Delicious baked goods are possibly my favorite thing in the whole world. It’s actually a very close toss up between baked good and cheese. This is most likely why I love Paris so much. Fortunately, I live in NYC and we have freaking amazing pastries here as well. I’ll walk you through some of my favorites.
Dominique Ansel Bakery is sort of the king of pastries in New York City. He was truly rocketed to fame in 2013 when he launched the famous CRONUT. If you have your heart set on a cronut, I strongly recommend you pre-order them. You can do so three weeks in advance. The website for pre-ordering is: https://cronutpreorder.com. The pre-orders go live every Monday at 11 a.m. If you do not get a cronut, no worries. While they are delicious, I actually prefer the other pastries at Dominique Ansel Bakery. Their almond croissant is magical. Their Frozen S’mores, Cookie Shots, and Blooming Hot Chocolates will all be instagram super stars, and amaze you with their deliciousness. You can also check out Dominique Ansel Kitchen, which is often calmer and has a soft serve ice cream shop attached to it in the summer time. From time to time, special dining events such as Pie Night (my favorite night of the year in NYC) will be held at the kitchen. Follow Dominique Ansel on instagram to keep up with these events and how to register!
The founder and head chef Madeline Lanciani is one of my heroes. Seriously, she is an incredible woman. She was the first female head chef at the Plaza Hotel, was featured on Food Networks series chopped, and in 1992 opened up her own bakery. She sells a huge assortment of deliciousness, but what she is perhaps most famous for is her artisanal Ring Ding Bar! With the permission of Drakes and Hostess, she is able to officially use the name “Ring Ding” and has elaborated the concept. Fifteen employees hand make these ring dings, that range in flavors from traditional, to pumpkin, to red velvet, to wintermint, to peanut butter. She even has gluten free options. In fact, Nick’s Pick, which is gluten free, is my favorite of all the flavors! This is a pastry that is entirely American served in a brand new way.
This is arguably the best eclair shop in Paris, and it has come to SoHo. My French friends always talk about how they can eat five or six of these eclairs in one sitting. They are drawn to the unique flavors and beautiful presentation. The seasonal flavors are always my favorite.
Erin McKenna Bakery is actually all gluten free! They made a variety of gluten free donuts, cupcake, brownies, cookies, Madeleines, and even scones. I am particularly drawn to their cinnamon donuts and pumpkin Madeleines!
I discovered confectionery by accident. I was on my way to opera rehearsal and needed something sweet so bought a few of their cookies. To my surprise, they were maybe the best cookies I have ever had. I also tried their hot chocolate and loved how rich and chocolate-y it was. I started stopping by before every rehearsal. When I stopped by for the last rehearsal, the lady behind me in line asked, “so what here is vegan?” The sales lady said, everything! I exclaimed EVERYTHING? THIS IS ALL VEGAN? She said yes, they were sort of subtlety vegan and don’t really advertise it. The cookies use a coconut oil butter which is delicious. I was completely dumbfounded that what are possibly the best cookies in NYC are vegan! Everything in the bakery is incredibly beautiful as well. Especially their chocolate candies and macarons.
This is a speakeasy bakery. You enter through an arcade. I’ll probably be put on a tour guide black list for even mentioning this in a blog post, because New Yorkers love to keep this Lower Manhattan gem their secret. So...that’s all I’ll say. Discover the wonder for yourselves!
If you love giant chewy gooey warm cookies, this is the stop for you. I always stop by on my way to Strawberry Fields and plan on picnicking with this cookie in Central Park, but let’s just say, I’ve never made it to the park before devouring the cookie.
If fancy tea cookies are your thing, this is the stop for you. I’d suggest stopping in and getting a box of flavors you select, and then walking to the Brooklyn water front (literally a two minute walk away) and eating the cookies while enjoying the dazzling views of Lower Manhattan. They also make a pumpkin whoopie pie which alone is worth the commute to Brooklyn.
Two Little Red Hens makes my favorite cupcakes in the city. They are so moist and flavorful. As a chocoholic my favorite flavor is the Brooklyn Black Out. It’s the most intense amazing chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted. You can also get a full sized cake and be the star of any birthday party!
NYC is bursting with Doughnut Shops, and to me, the Doughnut Plant comes out on top. They have multiple locations, and I find myself most often at the Grand Central Terminal Booth. I have raved about literally every single thing I have tried from the Doughnut Plant, but one true stand out is the creme brûlée ‘dough seed.’ This is a doughnut hole filled with creme then covered in a topping that has been brûlée-ed- just like the actual creme brûlée dish. The melding of flavors and textures will send your taste buds to world unknown!
Zachary Schmall was an actor who, by many measures, was very successful yet lacked feeling fulfilled. So, he opened up a cookie store and became the toast of Broadway. (Or at least the official cookie of Broadway.). The line is often long, but moves fast and the treats are definitely worth the wait. Since these cookies are associated with theatre, it will be busiest just before showtime and just after matinees come down. My favorite flavor is their funfetti cookie and often whatever their seasonal flavor is. Since this is conveniently located a few doors down from my dance studio, I’m there way more often than I care to admit chowing down in sugary deliciousness.
The best cheesecake in NYC is a TOUGH competition. JUNIORS is always high up there on the list and conveniently located in Times Square, but many tried and true New Yorkers will tell you that nothing can top Eileen’s cheesecakes. There are full sized cheesecakes you can order, but even more popular in the storefront are her mini round cheesecakes that come in a huge variety of flavors. I’d actually suggest going with friends, ordering a bunch of flavors, and sampling them all. I was surprised to discover that, being a super chocoholic, my favorite flavor was actually mango!
There is a constant battle over which bakery makes the best cannoli in NYC. Venieros constantly comes out on top. This Italian pasticceria has been in business since 1895, when Italian immigration in New York City was just about to peek. The traditional tastes of Italy have been kept alive here for you to enjoy!
If you enjoy macrons, this is really the only stop you need to make. They are easily the best macrons in NYC. They actually invented the macron with a ganache center as we know it today. Feel transported to Paris as you taste the delightful flavors. My favorite is the rose, it’s so light and delectable. I also love their rose croissant and super rich hot chocolate.
Lady M is known for its delightful Mille Feuille cakes. (This translates to ‘thousand pages’ and is basically many layers of thing crepe like pastry stacked on top of each other with delicious fillings in between.). I enjoy going to the location at the Todd English Food Hall at the Plaza Hotel and then having a picnic at the Duck Pond in Central Park.
This Southern Themed bakery has one of the best breakfasts in the city. They actually were voted best breakfast sandwich in the city, but I am partial to their freshly baked warm satisfying scones. Their scones seriously make waking up early worth it. They also have giant fluffy muffins, cookies, Rice Krispie treats, sandwiches, and more. Even writing this I’m salivating. They don’t have seating inside the store, but they are part of World Wide Plaza, which has a lovely courtyard in the middle. Also, being in midtown, Donna Bell’s will be easy walking distance of most midtown hotels.
This David Chang Bakery has been attempting to turn ‘familiar treats upside down and on their heads’ since 2008. They are famous for their ‘crack pie,’ ‘compost cookie,’ ‘birthday cake,’ and ‘truffles’ - which are basically cake pops without the stick and are dreamy. They also offer really fun cooking classes, which are great for individuals, dates, or even large groups. In the class I took, we made the famous birthday cake and then birthday cake truffles with the leftover ingredients! It was a New York Experience I still treasure.
Most New Yorkers agree that City Bakery has the best hot chocolate in the city. In fact, every February, they have a hot chocolate festival that features a different flavor each day. For the truly indulgent, order a giant marshmallow to go in your hot chocolate. In addition to the hot chocolate, they have giant delicious pastries. I’m usually pretty boring and just get a chocolate chip cookie to accompany my hot chocolate. I also love their French toast. Everything you try will be delicious, which is why this New York City Staple has been going strong for over 28 years!