17 Best Desserts in NYC + Ones You Should Skip

17 Best Desserts in NYC + Ones You Should Skip

As my teeth sank in and I closed my eyes, everything around me melted away. “Is it good?,” Esther asked, but all I could think about was the chocolate and marshmallow melting in my mouth with chewy texture of the warm churro. I knew I wanted s’more.’ (Sorry, I had to).

Last month, we were on the search for the best desserts in NYC

17 Best Desserts in NYC + Ones You Can Skip // Local Adventurer #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #travel #wanderlust #desserts #icecream

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We’re getting into our final months of our time in NYC and, even though we haven’t decided where we are going next, we know that moving will be easy. We’ve partnered with CORT to help us furnish our apartment. It helps make our place feel like home, and we don’t have to worry about the moving it all in our out. They really help us worry less about our space so that we can focus on exploring the city! Plus, we really love the pieces. You can check out our apartment tour here! You can also check out the CORT Blog here.

Last Updated: November 1, 2018

17 Best Desserts in NYC

New York City is no stranger to inventive and delectable desserts, but it can be hard to decide what is worth the visit with so many dessert shops hoping to invent the next big craze. We’ve had a lot of desserts in the city, many of which were beautiful to photograph but disappointing in taste. These are the ones that stood out and are the best dessert places in NYC in our book.

To create our list of places to try, we referenced a ton of articles, and asked our local friends for all their favorites. Soon my list grew to over 150 spots for desserts alone (you don’t want to see my other NYC lists). Even with all that info, we had to try them ourselves. We first started with desserts that were referenced 3 or more times and then started moving down the list. We still have quite a few to try, so we’ll update this as we eat our way through the city.

Boqueria

Multiple Locations, map

I’ll start off by saying that I am not a fan of s’mores. Never have, and probably never will be, with one exception the Churro S’mores from Boqueria. The chewy warm churro is everything that the s’more has been missing. The chewy texture perfectly compliments the classic s’more filling. You should also try something else from their churro-filled dessert menu. The classic churros with chocolate are exactly how they do like they do in Spain, and the churros stuffed with Nutella, and churro ice cream sandwich are a must try. Unlike most the places on this list, they have a full menu of tapas to balance out the sweet with salty making it one of the best dessert restaurants NYC has to offer.

Boqueria NYC + 17 Best Desserts in NYC and Ones You Should Skip // Local Adventurer #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #travel #wanderlust #desserts #churros
Churro S'mores at Boqueria New York + 17 Cool Dessert Places in NYC and Ones You Should Skip // Local Adventurer #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #travel #wanderlust #desserts #icecream
Churro S'mores at Boqueria New York + 17 Best Dessert Places in NYC and Ones You Should Skip // Local Adventurer #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #travel #wanderlust #desserts #icecream
Bibble & Sip, Theater District

253 W 51st St, 10019, map

How cute are the Totoro macarons? We visited Bibble and Sip a few years ago when we were visiting and didn’t care much for it. But I had a change of heart after a recent visit where I ate a Totoro and tried the cream puffs again.

Bibble and Sip + 17 Amazing and Unique Desserts in NYC // Local Adventurer #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #travel #wanderlust #desserts #totoro #macaron
Breads Bakery

Multiple Locations, map

We picked up a Chocolate Babka to take home after stopping by to try their cheesecake for our video. It was definitely worth it. Popping a slice of the babka in the microwave for a few seconds made it extra yummy.

More: Best Cheescakes in NYC Video

Breads Bakery Chocolage Babka + 17 Best Desserts in NYC + the Ones You Should Skip // Local Adventurer #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #travel #wanderlust #desserts
Levain Bakery

Multiple Locations, map

Levain Bakery seems to be the local favorite for cookies. Eat them while they are warm and gooey for the best experience and remember they are massive. One would have been enough to share between the two of us, but instead we ordered four: the chocolate chip cookie, oatmeal raisin, dark chocolate chip, and dark chocolate peanut butter chip. We still need to go back for the chocolate chip walnut.

If you can’t make it out to NYC, you can try this copycat recipe here. Let me know what you think. 

Levain Bakery Cookies + The Famous Dessert Places in NYC // Local Adventurer #cookies #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #travel #wanderlust #desserts
Chip NYC, Astoria QNS

Multiple Locations, map

It’s hard to say if the cookies at Chip NYC or Levain Bakery are better. The cookies at both are really dense and the texture feels like a hybrid of a cookie and a scone. After trying a few, we loved the regular chocolate chip the best, but they also have more creative concoctions like butterscotch toffee, apple pie, and blueberry cheesecake.

Chip NYC + Best Cookies in NYC and Best Desserts in NYC // Local Adventurer #cookies #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #travel #astoria #desserts
Dominique Ansel Bakery, Soho

189 Spring St, 10012, map

Dominique Ansel barely made our list. We’ve tried their Cronut, DKA, and cookies shots, but weren’t impressed with any of them. All their desserts were more gimmicky than tasty, but they did create the original Cronut which makes food history. I wouldn’t go out of the way to visit, but if you’re in Soho, drop in and let us know what you think.

Note: The good news is cronuts no longer have ridiculous lines. We were able to order some at noon, but it depends on how busy it gets. Go earlier if you want to make sure you get them. Also, if you don’t take your cookie shot fast, the milk will leak out the bottom.

Dominique Ansel Cronut + Famous Dessert Places in NYC // Local Adventurer #cronut #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #soho #dominiqueansel #desserts
Cookie Shot at Dominique Ansel NYC + 17 Best Dessert Places in New York // Local Adventurer #cookie #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #travel #wanderlust #desserts
Doughnut Plant

Multiple Locations, map

We love our doughnuts, so if anyone asks us about the best dessert in NYC, we always mention Doughnut Plant. All their doughnuts are good, but the Coconut Creme and Brooklyn Blackout are our favorites. Dare I say it’s my favorite doughnut in the US? We’ve been to a LOT, and it’s been a toss-up between the Coconut Creme here and the Strawberry Donut at Donut Man in California.

Doughnut Plant + 17 Best Sweets in NYC // Local Adventurer #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #food #foodie #usa #travel #donut #doughnut #desserts
Eileen’s Special Cheesecake, NOLITA

17 Cleveland Pl, 10012, map

This is our favorite cheesecake in New York. Not only are there a ton of different options, but they’ve found the perfect blend of fluffy and dense. Jacob’s favorite is the chocolate marble. The salted caramel, cookies and cream, and strawberry shortcake are also scrumptious.

Eileen's Cheesecake is the best cheesecake in NYC + 17 Famous Dessert Places in NYC // Local Adventurer #cheesecake #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #travel #wanderlust #desserts
Eggloo, China Town

60 Mulberry St, 10013, map

Neither of us is huge ice cream fans, but Eggloo’s egg waffles make it worth the visit. They make for great Instagram photos and a deliciously warm and cool snack.

Egloo Ice Cream + Cool Ice Cream Places in NYC // Local Adventurer #icecream #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #travel #wanderlust #desserts
Lady M Cake Boutique

Multiple Locations, map

If you’re looking for beautifully crafted cakes then head to Lady M. Everything we tried was pretty good. They are best known for their Green Tea Mille Crepe, which they ran out of while we were there, but we got to try the Chocolate Mille Crepe instead. Local Tip: If you visit the shop near Bryant Park and the wait is long for a table, grab it to go and sit at table in the park.
Lady M New York + 17 Famous Dessert Places in NYC // Local Adventurer #cake #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #travel #ladym #desserts
Magnolia Bakery

Multiple Locations, map

We tried some of the cakes and didn’t love them, but the Banana Bread Pudding from Magnolia Bakery is something else. It’s so good, and with so many locations throughout the city, it’s easy to pick up to take home or back to your hotel. They serve them in convenient cups too so it’s easy to eat wherever you are. 

Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding + 17 Best Dessert Places in NYC // Local Adventurer #bakery #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #travel #magnoliabakery #desserts
Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery, Greenwich

28 Greenwich Ave, 10011, map

This bakery has earned a name for itself among the locals. It made our list of best cheesecakes, but there is so much more we have to try. Our friend who lives in the neighborhood goes daily and told us it’s easier to point out ones to skip than which ones to get, since they’re practically all good. Everyone seems to have their favorite item, so ask one of the locals when you visit. Next on our list is the Brioche Braid.

Mah Ze Dahr Bakery NYC + Searching for the Best Cheesecake in NYC // Local Adventurer #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #travel #desserts #cheesecake
Two Little Red Hens, UES

1652 2nd Ave, 10028, map

This was the first cheesecake we had in the city and was our favorite until it got bumped to #2 by Eileen’s. It’s still worth the visit if you’re in the UES and don’t want to make it all the way downtown. We forgot to take pictures, but it’s in our best cheesecake in NYC video, if you want to see it.

PopBar, West Village

5 Carmine St, 10014, map

If you’re looking for something light and refreshing, these customizable fruit pops will hit the spot. You can dip them in different chocolate coverings and even add toppings.

Local Tip: Joe’s Pizza is right next door if you need something salty to compliment that sweet.

Popbar + 17 Unique Desserts in NYC // Local Adventurer #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #travel #wanderlust #desserts #popsicle
Spot Dessert Bar

Multiple Locations, map

They create fun and creative desserts, like the Harvest, where you water your plant before eating it. Everyone also raves about the Matcha Molten Lava Cake, which was fine, but we actually liked the Sesame Cookies more.

Matcha Molten Lava Cake at Spot Dessert Bar + 17 Best Desserts in NYC // Local Adventurer #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #travel #desserts #cake #matcha
Soft Swerve, LES

B, 85 Allen St, 10002, map

They have flavors that rotate, but they are best known for their Ube Ice Cream. The first time we visited, they had an amazing black sesame flavor as well.

Soft Swerve + Cool Ice Cream Places in NYC // Local Adventurer #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #softserve #softswerve #desserts #icecream
Taiyaki, Little Italy

119 Baxter St, 10013, map

You’ve probably seen these fish cones on Instagram. They stack them high with soft serve flavors, likes matcha and black sesame, making it a great photo op before you dive in. They also have mini unicorn floats and shakes for the gram.

Taro Shakes in Unicorn Floats at Taiyaki NYC // Local Adventurer #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #travel #wanderlust #desserts #unicorn
Unicorn Ice Cream served in a Fish Cone + 17 Unique Desserts in NYC // Local Adventurer #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #food #foodie #wanderlust #desserts #icecream #taiyakinyc

NEEDS A SECOND VISIT

We see some dessert spots consistently pop up on other lists, but we either didn’t love our first experience or maybe we ordered the wrong menu item.

  • Big Gay Ice Cream – We ordered the regular vanilla with rainbow sprinkles like an idiot, and I immediately regretted it. Next time it’s only the Salty Pimp or Bea Arthur.
  • Dough – This Hibiscus Doughnut makes the list for a lot of people, but we tried it plus 3 others and thought they were just okay. We also prefer yeast over cakey doughnuts unless they are just that good.
  • Doughnut Project – We tried others I wouldn’t rave about but need to try the Everything Bagel Doughnut.
  • Maison Kayser – On our move-in day, our friend brought us a bag of goodies from here. I remember loving the chocolate croissants, but we haven’t tried it since.
  • Momofuku Milk Bar – We aren’t fans of the cereal milk soft serve, but we also don’t love leftover cereal milk. We still need to try the Crack Pie, Cornflake Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies, Klossies, Cereal Milk Shake Soft Serve, and Birthday Cake Truffles before we completely write this place off. 
  • Pasticerrio Rocco – We didn’t like their NY cheesecake (too much vanilla), but we haven’t tasted their Italian style cheesecake, pistachio-laced cannoli, black-and-white cookies, and chocolate chunk cookies.
  • Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream – This is a popular ice cream shop. It just wasn’t anything special and our ice cream was gummy, which we learned happens if the scoopers only scoop from the outside. Maybe it was just an off day.
  • Wafels & Dinges – We went to the Bryant Park location, and I have to say it was nothing special. We want to give one more location and something sweet and savory a try

Don’t waste your time at these spots.

  • Bouchon Bakery – The original is in Yountville, CA, which is roughly an hour outside of San Francisco. But since they have multiple locations throughout the US, we recommend visiting places more unique to NYC before eating here.
  • Black Tap is known for their ridiculous instagrammable milkshakes. We stopped by to try one and it was REALLY disgusting. All they did was pile as much crap and whipped cream on top.
  • Buca di Beppo – The Brownie Sunday was on a lot of people’s list, but this is a nationwide chain, so find a place close to home to try it.
  • Ice and Vice – They have creative ice cream flavors and names, but I really did not like their cones.
  • Junior’s Cheesecake – You can really taste the cheese in this NY cheesecake. If you like dense cheesecakes and don’t mind touristy spots, then it’s worth a try. We’ve tried it twice and still don’t like it. Some friends who visited us from Atlanta loved Junior’s, but they were obsessed with finding the densest cheesecakes.
  • Laduree – The macarons are a great souvenir to take back to friends, but they have locations all over the world.
  • Sprinkles – This is another nationwide spot that started in Beverly Hills. They’ve always been just okay.

Closed

Running a food business in NYC is rough. When we were doing research, a lot of these spots were still featured but have closed. Check back, because some of the above may also end up here.

  • Cocoa V
  • Yes Please Bar
  • Lula’s Sweet Apothecary
  • Play J
  • Pops by Haley
  • Sugar and Plumm

Map

We still have a huge of list of  to check out. Next on our list is Ample Hills Creamery which consistently makes the lists of best dessert Brooklyn has to offer, Alimama for their mochi donuts, Cosme for their Brown Butter Tamal, and Schmackary’s for the Cookie Dough Cookie. 

What’s on your NYC food bucket list? Any famous New York desserts or secret ones we left out?

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Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in NYC.

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