No matter how much we eat, there’s always room for dessert. Combine our second stomachs with the ideas and innovation that flow through New York City, and you’ve got teamwork to make the dream work — a dream full of creative, sugary, sweet goodness. If you’re eating out and aren’t satisfied with the dessert menu, there’s no need to settle for a simple scoop of ice cream or slice of pie. Almost every neighborhood in the five boroughs boasts trendy and unique desserts that’ll satisfy your sweet tooth and are a sight for sore eyes. Here are the best 16 places to grab dessert in NYC.
1. Spot Dessert Bar
Thai and New York influences led cousins Chai and Ace to create a restaurant group that values both tradition and innovation. Spot Dessert Bar in New York was their first restaurant, and they partnered with Iron Chef Ian Kittichai to create a unique dessert menu. Visit the flagship location in St. Marks Place, and try the signature Matcha Lava — a dark chocolate cake filled with green tea ganache, green tea ice cream, chocolate pearls, and cookie crumbs — or The Harvest, cheesecake with Oreo crumbs and raspberry sorbet designed to look like a potted plant.
Where: 13 St. Marks Place, New York, NY 10003
2. Levain Bakery
Don’t let the lines that stretch down the block put you off from stopping into Levain Bakery — it’s worth all the hype. It was opened in 1994 by Connie McDonald and Pam Weekes who, after training for the demanding Ironman triathlon, talked about creating the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie. Levain only sells three types — chocolate chip walnut, oatmeal raisin, and dark chocolate peanut butter chip — and all the thick, soft cookies are freshly baked onsite.
Where: 167 W 74th St, New York, NY 10023
Gone are the days where people disregarded salmonella warnings to eat raw dough for its pure deliciousness. Now, you can safely eat cookie dough and batter without thinking twice at DŌ. There are over 20 different flavors; the classics range from Commandō, which is just pure raw dough, to the signature chocolate chip cookie dough. The more wild combinations include Chocolate Dream (brownie batter mixed with Oreo cookies and chocolate chips) and Gimme S’more (cookie dough with Hershey’s chocolate, toasted marshmallows, and graham crackers). There’s usually a crazy line here too, though, so if you can’t wait for a fix, fresh pre-packaged DŌ is also sold at upscale grocery chain Dean & DeLuca.
Where: 550 LaGuardia Place, New York, NY 10012
4. Taiyaki NYC
Taiyaki is traditionally a fish-shaped cake, and the name comes from the Japanese word tai, which translates to sea bream, and yaki which can mean baked, fried, or grilled. In Taiyaki NYC’s case, the taiyaki is baked into a fish-shaped ice cream cone. The menu offers up choices like Straight Outta Japan — a mix of green tea and black sesame ice cream with red bean, a mochi stick, and a wafer stick — or you can create your own concoction.
Where: 19 Baxter St, New York, NY 10013
5. Serendipity 3
Serendipity 3 has been in the game since 1954 when it was founded by Stephen Bruce. It was named after three legendary princes of an island known as Serendip (modern-day Sri Lanka) and has been frequented by the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol, and Beyoncé. The Alice in Wonderland-inspired decor will make you feel like you’re a guest at one of the Mad Hatter’s tea parties, and the menu items are just as magnificently grandiose, including the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, Strawberry Supreme, and Golden Opulence Sundae, which holds the Guinness World Record for most expensive sundae in the world at $1,000 due to ingredients like 23-karat gold leaf and rare chocolates.
Where: 225 E 60th St, New York, NY 10022
6. Blue Stripes Cacao Shop
Created by famed chocolatier Oded Brenner, Blue Stripes is a modern-day coffee-shop version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It’s an ode to Brenner’s daughter Nellie, featuring small personal touches that act as a nod to her like a framed quote that reads, “I think I’ve never created anything for anyone else other than you.” That also includes the menu, with offerings like a shot of pure milk chocolate, chocolate pizza, and a pancake-sandwich combo. Health is also on the brain with cacao fruit energy drinks and teas. If that’s not enough, there are even chocolate drinks on tap.
Where: 28 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003
7. Tipsy Scoop
If you thought booze and ice cream wouldn’t go together, think again. Tipsy Scoop began as a wholesale retailer selling liquor-infused ice cream to grocery stores and has now opened a storefront in Midtown. Each flavor has five-percent ABV, equating to that of a beer. Flavors like vanilla bean bourbon, strawberry white sangria sorbet, and cake batter vodka martini are sure to give you a pleasant buzz. There are also vegan and gluten-free options available.
Where: 217 E 26th St, New York, NY 10010
8. Sweet Moment
Bingsoo is a popular Korean shaved-ice dessert, and Sweet Moment’s bingsoo, piled high with a seemingly endless number of toppings, will make you want to reach for every last bite. For something sweet, try the mango and cheesecake bingsoo, and for savory, go for the black sesame red bean.
Where: 106 Mott St, New York, NY 10013
9. Artuso’s Bakery
The Bronx’s version of Little Italy is packed to the brim with Italian restaurants, coffee houses, and pastry shops. But you’ll find some of the best Italian pastries at Artuso Pastry. Vincent Artuso Sr. worked at the same location in the ‘30s and, upon his return from military service, purchased the shop to make it his own. The store takes up half a block, and the corner it sits on is named after Vincent F. Artuso Sr., the creator. Inside, you’ll find every pastry imaginable, from cannolis to éclairs to sfogliatelle (a lobster-tail-shaped pastry), as well as cookies, biscotti, and cakes. Spring for the cannoli cake for the best of both worlds.
Where: 670 E 187th St, Bronx, NY 10458
10. Lloyd’s Carrot Cake
Anyone who’s tried a slice of cake from Lloyd’s will probably swear it’s the best in the Bronx — if not the city. The business began with the late owner, Lloyd Adams, who started baking with a recipe his mother gave him. The shop opened in ‘85 and has stayed in the family ever since. It’s most famous for its carrot cake with cream cheese frosting — though there are raisin and nut-free options — but there’s also red velvet, pineapple coconut, strawberry coconut, pecan, and chocolate cakes.
Where: 6087 Broadway, Bronx, NY 10471
11. Eddie’s Sweet Shop
Eddie’s Sweet Shop is the oldest ice cream parlor in New York City, dating back nearly 100 years. Stepping through the door feels like you’re being transported back to the early-20th century, and nothing has really changed; the decor is the same as is the homemade ice cream, but that’s part of its old-school charm. We recommend ordering an ice cream sundae that’ll be served in a raised tin bowl or float for a real time warp.
Where: 105-29 Metropolitan Ave #1, Forest Hills, NY 11375
12. Rebecca’s Cake Pops
Rebecca’s Cake Pops started out as a hobby until Rebecca began receiving requests for custom-made cake pops. The rest is history. Made from scratch with fresh ingredients, the intricate cakes are molded into different shapes and dipped into candy melts to keep the cake’s moisture intact. Typical cake pops on sale are shaped like a rose, cookie, or ice cream in a cone. Customers have the option to order custom designs, as well, though those will take a few days to make and must be requested via phone or online; these can be anything from inanimate objects to beloved characters.
Where: 61 New Hyde Park Rd, Garden City, NY 11530
13. Republic of Booza
Known as the world’s oldest ice cream, Booza is Middle Eastern in origin and stretchy in texture. It’s made by mixing salep (ground orchid root) and mastic (a type of resin) with milk, cream, and sugar in a freezer drum. While ice cream is normally churned, Booza is pounded with a wooden pestle and stretched by hand, which results in its smooth elasticity. Republic of Booza is the world’s first modern Booza brand and has classics like chocolate and vanilla, global variations like the original Booza flavor of Qashta (candied cream) and horchata de chufa (made from sweetened tiger nuts), and experimentals like Sichuan white chocolate and pineapple-burnt butter sorbet.
Where: 76 N 4th St, Brooklyn, New York 11249
14. Brooklyn Whiskers
Brooklyn Whiskers is a vegan bakery cafe that specializes in plant-based pastries. It serves up Danishes, muffins, scones, and the like, but you’ll want to visit on the weekends because that’s the only time the Bushwick spot sells its doughnut-croissant hybrid. If you time it right, you can try the mouth-watering, you-can’t-believe-it’s-not-dairy flavored doughssants.
Where: 760 Bushwick Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221
15. -321 Ice Cream Shop
Food creation is a science, and -321 takes that to heart. Instead of being scooped out of a glass display, your ice cream will be made right before your eyes. The base flavor is poured into a metal tub then liquid nitrogen (at a temperature of negative 321 degrees Fahrenheit) is used to freeze it. The end result is fresher, creamier, and richer than typical ice cream. Standard options are matcha, cookies and cream, peanut butter crunch, and mint-choc chip, but seasonal creations vary. You can even purchase the made-to-order dessert in a nitro cup, which will exude liquid nitrogen for a few minutes until it evaporates, so you can nab a cool photo before digging in.
Where: 288 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
16. Project Brunch
There’s breakfast for dinner, but at Project Brunch, you can get breakfast for dessert (or vice versa). This Staten Island eatery turns breakfast favorites into sweet indulgences like cinnamon roll pancakes and Oreo-stuffed waffles with whipped cream and cookie crumbs. Project Brunch is becoming increasingly well known for its loaded hot chocolate drinks, following in the footsteps of the Aussie-led “freakshake” trend. Served in mason jars, s’mores and peanut butter cups are the two mainstays, with a new limited-time flavor listed each month.
Where: 4553 Arthur Kill Rd, Staten Island, NY 10309