On a recent weekend getaway to New York City, we had one thing on our minds: DESSERT. Did you really expect anything else? Not wanting to waste any time or calories on mediocre baked goods, we began plotting our NYC Bakery Tour weeks in advance of the trip.
Much of our travel, like our life, revolves around food. While we have no shame in eating our way through foodie cities like New Orleans and Austin, none rank quite as high on our list as NYC.
Sure NYC is known for its pizza, hot dogs, bagels, and pastrami sandwiches, but these iconic dishes don’t even come close to its famous baked goods. From black-and-white cookies to banana cream pudding, cupcakes to cheesecake, there’s no sweet tooth that NYC can’t satiate.
Here’s where we stopped on our inaugural NYC Bakery Tour.
We arrived Friday afternoon to gloomy, soggy weather, but nothing was going to rain on our NYC Bakery Tour parade. We headed out to sweeten our day at Milk Bar, where we tried the Cereal Milk/B’Day Twist Soft Serve and the B’Day Cake Truffles.
How Milk Bar is able to perfectly reconfigure a bowl of sweetened cereal milk as ice cream is beyond us, but oh how we adore them for it. Swirled with the slightly richer B’Day Cake flavor and topped with rainbow sprinkles, and you’ve reached utter soft serve nirvana.
The B’Day Cake Truffles — vanilla funfetti cake balls rolled in white chocolate and sprinkled with rainbow cake crumbs — are your childhood birthday parties rolled up into a neat little portion-controlled ball. That is unless you eat the entire 3-pack in one sitting, which isn’t hard to do. Not that we’re speaking from experience or anything …
Can’t get enough Milk Bar B’Day Cake goodness? Neither could we. Luckily there’s a lip balm for that.
The Donut Pub
Sunny Saturday morning marked a fresh start. After a full breakfast at The Coffee Shop in Union Square, we walked over to The Donut Pub in the West Village. This mom and pop shop turns out donuts around the clock, fitting for the city that never sleeps.
With every good intention to buy a few donuts to stash away as an afternoon snack, between the two of us, we somehow managed to inhale three (!!!) Croissant Donuts.
The buttery, flaky layers of the Glazed Croissant Donut melt in your mouth while pellets of sugary glaze fall to your plate as you dab every last morsel with your finger. The Maple Bacon Croissant Donut takes the flavor up a notch because MAPLE and BACON. Finally, the Chocolate Cannoli Croissant Donut reminded us of those beloved Little Debbie Mini Frosted Donuts, but bigger and filled with cannoli cream made with sweetened ricotta and mini chocolate chips.
No wonder these Croissant Donuts didn’t even make it out of the shop!
As we wandered through Chelsea, we stumbled upon City Cakes, an adorably tiny bakery known for their half-pound cookies. We repeat: HALF. POUND. COOKIES. These half-pounders even rival the ever-popular Levain Bakery, sans the line wrapping around the block.
Our bellies still full of Croissant Donuts, we did as all good food bloggers do and dove into our pound of still-warm cookies. The Rich Chocolate Chip Cookie was thick and chewy at the edge, soft and slightly underbaked in the middle. Most impressive, though, was the Killer Red Velvet Cookie. Mildly sweet with a hint of chocolate, the bright crimson cookie is stuffed with cream cheese and sprinkled with coarse sugar. If you only order one item here, it’s this.
Pro tip: City Cakes’ half-pound cookies take on an even denser, richer, and chewier consistency when eaten cold. Highly recommend for your inevitable leftovers! Unless of course you can eat an entire half-pound cookie in one sitting. For that, we applaud you.
Clinton Street Baking Company
We knew something sweet was mandatory for Sunday brunch, and word on the street was that Clinton Street Baking Company on the Lower East Side flips the best pancakes in NYC. Crisp and golden brown on the outside, yet light and fluffy on the inside, the Wild Maine Blueberry Pancakes with Warm Maple Butter were absolutely divine. The plump, juicy blueberries lent a slight tartness to the subtly sweet pancake. A dousing of Warm Maple Butter atop the short stack sealed the deal — the dish was bangin’ without being sickeningly sweet.
Eileen’s Special Cheesecake
TBH, we’re still trying to figure out what’s special about Eileen’s Special Cheesecake. Not that the Strawberry Cheesecake Tart we split was terrible by any means, but it just wasn’t anything more special than a cheesecake we could bake ourselves. When we come to New York for cheesecake, we expect thick, rich, dense New York-style cheesecake. Eileen’s Special Cheesecake, located in the Nolita neighborhood, is rich in flavor, but light in texture. In a city already oversaturated with desserts, a bakery has to be a lil’ extra to hook us.
That’s it! Five bakeries in three days. We’ve been detoxing ever since 😉
What’s your favorite New York City bakery?