The Best Desserts in NYC

As a well-known cookie fiend and former New Yorker, I consider myself an expert in this category! Although I left the city 7 years ago, when I come back to visit, I like to hit all my old favorites, while still mixing in new spots I’ve had on my list to try, and this is a curated guide to the truly can’t-miss sweets in the city. I’m always updating this list since I go back to New York at least twice a year, and eat many cookies with each visit. And if you want the recs for all things restaurants, click here for that blog!

1. Caffe Panna (Gramercy) – This is my favorite gelato or ice cream in all of New York. Besides the fact that I love the creative flavor options, it’s just the right amount of creamy-to-frozen texture. It’s not as milky or heavy as Bambina Blue Gelato, and they have Oreo and pretzel crumbs as toppings! It doesn’t hurt that the founder’s father is the most esteemed restaurateur in NYC, Danny Meyer. Go team!

2. Daily Provisions (Multiple Locations) – While we all know City Cakes has been my favorite chocolate chip cookie in NYC for the last 10 years, I can’t believe I’m saying it but Daily Provision’s Sea Salt Caramel Cookie has officially taken its place. It’s soft in all the right places, might even break as you fondle the package, and has huge chunks of sea salt and melty chocolate with just enough space to taste the actual cookie part, too. LOVE THAT CARAMEL sliding through but not taking over enough to not be able to call it a chocolate chip cookie. Yes, that’s how passionate I am about chocolate chip cookies.

3. From Lucie (East Village) – I had been hearing about this adorable bakery (and seeing the long line on Instagram) for a while, so on my last visit to the city, I had to see what the hype was all about! I walked down to the bakery at 3:15 p.m. on a Thursday and was able to walk right in and have my choice of cake. This tower of chocolatey deliciousness has so many textures with icing, pistachios, dense cake, and it made me SO happy.  Since I didn’t see a line or anything, I’d say go in the afternoon and be prepared to pay $13 for a slice of cake covered in flowers and love.

4. La Mercerie (Manhattan) Since City Cakes closed, this is my new favorite gourmet cookie in NYC with its brown butter, Valrhona dark and blonde chocolate, and sea salt! They’re not as big as Levain or Lunny Face (I actually don’t like Funny Face), as they’re actually more flat and super flavorful. Located inside Roman and Williams, go to La Mercerie a weekday before they open for lunch to have a really fancy cookie in a beautiful space — it’s bougie, but worth it. 

5. Chip City vs. 6. Levain (Multiple Locations) – It’s quite silly to say such a thing, but I feel like I discovered Levain Bakery’s giant chocolate chip cookies before the internet. My first visit was the summer I interned in NYC in 2009. I ate two monstrous cookies from the only location at the time in the UWS on my last day living there. When I moved back, I made the trek up there monthly to get my fix. Over the last few years, people would text me every time they ate one because they knew they were my favorite. Then my favorite switched to City Cakes when I felt like they weren’t as consistent (it was really two times that I had more walnuts than chocolate chips in my cookie….). Anyway, I love their chocolate peanut butter cookies as well, but I was just fooled with a taste test at a friend’s dinner party, and I actually like Chip City better now. While they don’t have as good of a background story or emotion in their stores, I choose Chip City now! Same chunky cookie style, but a little better flavor with no nuts.

7. Ceremonia Bakeshop (BK) – When my friend Mike and I get together, we hardcore talk about food for the first 30 minutes before even getting close to talking about our daily lives. If Mike tells me he wants to take me to try a cookie, I don’t ask any questions, I leap. I didn’t read anything about Ceremonia Bakeshop really anywhere or hear about it from anyone else which is a crime! This was the best cinnamon roll, a thin sea salt chocolate chip cookie filled with lots of chocolate, a mochi muffin, and beautiful looking sprinkle cookies and mini sweet bread loaves. Don’t miss it if you are in the Williamsburg hood.

8. Anita Gelato (Multiple) An Israeli gelato shop with the creamiest, lightest, coldest gelato, Anita Gelato was the perfect spot for us to walk into at midnight in the city. The Chocolate Pretzel, Salted Caramel, and Chocolate Pistachio wowed me as it doesn’t taste too rich or milky. They have locations all around the world, so I always check if they have one in other countries I visit. When I went to London, I tried the Salted Cashew, which is my new favorite flavor!

9. Win Son Bakery (BK) – Every food person I trust has been telling me to go here for years, especially for the mochi donut. At this Taiwanese-American bakery and coffee shop, we shared the Millet Mochi Donut which had sugar dusted all over the outside, red date cake (which I’d skip next time), and the one and only scallion pancake egg and cheese sando with raclette cheese, caramelized onions, and mushrooms. This needs to be on a menu somewhere in Austin! Chef Calvin Eng from Bonnie’s used to work here.

10. Martha’s Country Bakery (BK) – This is a typical “deli style” New York spot, where you see the glass cases full of food, except this one is just dessert. I have never seen a never ending row of every single dessert you could possibly imagine as wild as this insane place. I giggled nonstop as soon as I set foot in (it was also my 2nd day back after a year so the sugar excitement spilled out quickly). Cakes, cookie jars, cheesecakes, fruit pies, mini tarts, cake pops, danishes, pound cake, ice cream. I’m serious, this place is CRAZY. I got the toffee chocolate chip cookie and it did me just fine.

11. Bambina Blue Gelato (Nolita) – From the owners of Israeli restaurant next door, 19 Cleveland, this gelato spot is colorful, instagramy, and almost feels like a kids birthday party show. The flavors are out of this world and unlike anywhere else with huge mounds of toppings. It’s very creamy, milky, and extra rich compared to Caffe Panna. Flavors include: Cotton Candy, Halva Fistuk, Kindless Bueno, Miso Brownies, Movie Night (Salted Popcorn Gelato + M&M’s), Big Fat Greek Wedding (Greek Yogurt Gelato, Blueberries, Olive Oil), Brown Butter & Co.

12. Milk Bar (Multiple Locations) – I spent every weekend walking a mile to the only location of Milk Bar in the East Village back in the day. Each treat was fresh in the bakery case or in a cookie jar. They’d cut a slice of their pies and cakes. Now, Christina Tosi has flourished and found a way to grow the business especially through the famous naked layered Birthday Cake! Right now, I like the birthday cake truffles more than the cookies, and the ice cream that they sell at grocery stores is also WOW.

13. L Appartement 4F (BK) – Now this is a good story. My friend Sarah sent me the Instagram for this place saying this was a couple that make mini croissants out of their house and blew up on TikTok. They were about to open a brick-and-mortar bakery and I perused the Instagram seeing the gooeyest looking raspberry almond croissants + tahini chocolate chip cookies. It was too far from my apartment and I was planning on seeing my new friend Lyznie that day who just so happened to live right next to the bakery! This blessed soul picked up some treats for me and made my dream come true. Apparently, now the line is ages long so you have to get there early. The croissant is worth it!

14. Mister Dips  – The original location is at the top of the William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg, but I finally snagged a peanut butter hard shell soft serve cone at the South Street Seaport location.

15. Serendipity – This just has to be on the list because it’s every child’s dream to eat a piece of cake that can barely fit on the table or a frozen hot chocolate that is somewhere between a milkshake, icey, and ice cream. Go for the cookies ‘n cream Frozen Hot Chocolate as I like that better than the Chocolate Cake which is a bit dry but the fudge on it rocks. This place is a sugar zoo with kids, and it made me giddy and such a delight to eat with my friend Juliet and her daughter, Avie, who likes food just as much as us! Also, the Caesar Salad, Chicken Tenders, and Fries are actually good.