New York's bakeries seems to be competing to outdo themselves with creativity, indulgence and variety. New Yorkers do everything big, and that includes their cookies. With fantastic, often family run, bakeries or baked goods stalls on almost every corner in the city it's impossible to justify store-bought, factory-made cupcakes or anything less than the freshest pies in the Big Apple. With so many options, though, you may still find yourself settling for less than the best if you're not in the know about where to go, and we wouldn't want you to waste those indulgent calories on substandard pastries. That's why we've compiled a list of the five best bakeries in New York, where you'll find only the finest, freshest baked goods fabulous enough to satisfy even the most fastidious Parisian pastry chef.
The cronut: If you haven't heard of this, we're about to bring you back into the pastry loop - and the pastry loop is a literal one. The "cronut" is a creamy, sweet, croissant-type delicacy - in the shape of a donut. It's been named one of the best inventions of recent history, and this bakery's head chef, Dominique Ansel, created it. If for no other reason than to experience pastry history as it's happening, get yourself over to Spring Street and sample the inimitable cronut, among the many other fine - and unique - delights at the Dominique Ansel Bakery. There will be an unholy line up, but that’s mostly because he’s put a registered trademark on the word "Cronut".
The ultra-hyped, Oprah-approved Baked in Brooklyn has become an institution in the district and is recognized as the first must-eat stop for brownie lovers citywide - for good reason. The bakery has all the traditional baked goodies: huge cupcakes, even huger cookies and dense, moist, indulgent brownies that even the most calorie conscious would have a hard time passing up. They also have a surprising and delightful savory side, with pies, tarts and quiches all on offer and all living up to the high standard set by the bakery's confectionary.
Levain is an Upper West Side bakery with satellites in Harlem and the Hamptons (not two Hs we'd often put together, but great pastry has its place anywhere). If Brooklyn's Baked has the best brownies, then Levain has the corner the city’s best cookies. Gooey, chunky and stuffed full of the best stuff (walnuts, choc chips, peanut butter...), these cookies are famous the city over. This bakery isn't all about the desserts, however; Levain also does a great line in breads and brioche.
Zachary Golper, the head chef and founder of Bien Cuit, is a bread wizard. Bien Cuit is recognized on its own merits as a sweet-smelling, welcoming and guaranteed high-quality bakery with a focus on great breads (of every possible sort - at least count, the menu featured around twenty variations on the bread theme). They're also well reputed as providing the bread to some of NYC's most prestigious restaurants - if it's good enough for the Michelin stars, it's good enough for our breakfast tables! Bien Cuit's limited line of sweet pastries and cookies doesn't disappoint, either, and the twice-baked croissants are a delight.
Breads' spacious premises, unusual among NYC's bakeries, are perfect for a leisurely breakfast coffee and an incredible pastry. Perfectly located in the heart of Union Square, Breads is an accessible way to nab the some of the very freshest and best quality loaves in the city (leaving you no excuse to pick up your sandwich loaf from the supermarket). Baker Uri Scheft has been making a name for himself in the city for his careful, artisan crafted breads and pastries, including but certainly not limited to the legendary chocolate babka and decadently chocolatey rugelachs.