Best desserts in Boston
One of the beloved rival pastry shops on Hanover Street in the North End, Mike’s is best known for its cannoli. Stop by Mike’s after dinner for one (or a few) of its 19 flavors, including plain, Nutella, Oreo, limoncello, and more. Fun date night idea: get the cannoli package and make your own at home. If you’re not into cannoli though, you can’t go wrong with any of the biscotti, cookies, lobster tails, cream puffs, or macaroons at Mike’s.
Modern Pastry is another yet another North End pastry emporium with a loyal following. This family-owned spot has been in operation for decades, offering old-world cakes, cookies, pizelles, and chocolates. Try the flaky sfogliatella (lobster tail) and a coffee for a sweet finish after a meal. Check out Modern Underground where you can get a cocktail with your dessert.
In business since 1983, Christina’s is an iconic spot for ice cream. Take all the time you need to peruse the list of 50 different flavors offered at any given time. On the regular menu you’ll find the standards plus unique flavors like adzuki, burnt sugar, and ginger molasses. Other flavors that appear occasionally are cinnamon rice pudding, creme fraiche, and lavender, plus seasonal options from eggnog to fresh rose. For a lighter, more refreshing option, a sorbet such as cassis, kalamansi, or guava.
For a Mediterranean dessert option, Oleana and Sarma’s smaller, more casual sibling is just what you need. Enjoy a Turkish coffee and work your way through the menu: baklava (there are several varieties including chocolate-hazelnut), dukkah macaroon, tahini shortbread, chocolate chunk cookies, and more. Be sure to try the almond rose cake.
Union Square Donuts has been popular from the get-go, with flavors like maple bacon, chocolate chipotle, and orange-ginger cream. Even vegans can indulge; dairy-free options include belgian dark chocolate, cinnamon, and seasonal flavors. For a smaller indulgence, try the bite-sized donut holes. With a few locations and availability at several coffee shops, these donuts are an easy and delicious dessert to find.
Clear Flour primarily specializes in baking authentic French and Italian breads, but their sweet treats are equally authentic and indulgent. Rustic fruit tarts, scones, and tea cakes are great dessert options, as well as the substantial chocolate chunk cookies. Want dessert for breakfast? Sticky-sweet morning buns are a hot ticket that sell out early.
This cute shop in the North End has a huge selection of buttercream-frosted cupcakes (s’mores, chocolate cherry bomb, lemon curd, and red velvet to name just a few). House-made ice cream flavors include Thai tea coconut, Purple Cow, pistachio with port wine, chocolate fudge brownie, and more. Pick up a few vintage candies to complete the old-timey dessert shop feel.
You’re likely never far from a Flour Bakery location, and that’s a good thing. A great spot to pick up dessert for later, you’ll find cupcakes, tartlettes, pies, sticky buns, and a substantial list of cookies. Don’t miss the belgian chocolate brownie. Tip for wanna-be pastry chefs: keep an eye out for classes and learn how to make these decadent desserts at home.
Once called the best ice cream in the world by the New York Times, Toscanini’s continues to impress. You’ll find expertly-crafted versions of old favorites alongside intriguing flavors such as "B3" (brownies, brown sugar, brown butter), raspberry Fluff, and Vienna finger cookie. Enjoy a scoop with coffee, or go all out with a sundae. Bring a Toscanini’s ice cream cake to your next dinner party and you’ll be a star.
Slide into a retro red vinyl booth at this Newton ice cream parlor and peruse the menu of classics like malts, freezes, and floats. Allow sufficient time to debate among parfait and sundae options—heaping combos of ice cream and indulgent toppings. Or try a puff—your choice of ice cream in a cream puff shell with hot fudge, whipped cream, and other toppings.
If you’re looking for fanciful European-inspired treats, head to Brookline to sample the wares at this quaint, elegant cafe. Small cakes, delicate baklava, handmade chocolates, pastries, and gelato are elevated by the surroundings. The original locations of Athan’s are in coastal Greece, and you’ll find many Mediterranean-influenced specialties. Late opening hours are another bonus.
After indulging in plates of ribs, brisket, and burnt ends, you’d better have room for Chef Andy Husbands’ take on classic Southern desserts. Any dessert with “crack” in the name is worth the splurge, and the Butter Crack Cake—made with the caramelized, almost-burnt edges of his butter pound cake—is no exception. Catch it before it sells out, but the Banana Nilla Puddin’ (made with caramelized banana pudding) and Mississippi Mud Pie (with brisket-spiced candied pecans) are strong runners-up.
Prepared to be wowed by the Blackbird’s magic. Classic raised donuts are light, fluffy, and may come in offbeat flavors like sesame sriracha, blackberry currant, or savory everything bagel (filled with whipped cream cheese and topped with everything seasoning). Cake donuts are made with buttermilk and sour cream. Try the classic Blackbird (vanilla) or something more unique like the PB strawberry. For a real indulgence (with at least three other friends), try a doughnut cake—cake doughnut batter layered with seasonal jam and topped with buttercream frosting.
Wrap up a Venetian-style meal with a sublime dessert at SRV. As with the savory courses, desserts incorporate seasonal ingredients and house-milled flour. The gelato and sorbetto lists may include flavors such as plantain, lavender, and olive oil chocolate chunk. Desserts are something to sing about, whether a zuppa inglese featuring rhubarb and strawberry, goat’s milk panna cotta with kiwi sorbetto, or a chocolate eggplant torta with fior di latte gelato. With a fine coffee, wine, and cocktail list, SRV is worth a dessert-only visit.
The first thing you see when walking into this Somerville institution is the display case full of pies. These “world famous” pies alone are worth a visit to Rosebud. Flavors vary every day, but you’re guaranteed they’re fresh, homemade, and delicious. Seasonal fruits make an appearance—key lime, strawberry rhubarb, and blueberry crumble—while peanut butter fudge and mocha cream offer a more indulgent option.
Each dish and drink at ArtScience is artfully composed and almost too pretty to eat. So it’s no surprise the desserts are equally awe-inspiring. Ingredients are colorful and out-of-the-ordinary, from edible flowers to spheres of herbal infusions. Looks for seasonal options like the strawberry-thyme semifreddo with spring pea pave, lime curd, and whipped mascarpone and get your phone ready for a sweet Instagram pic.
Have a hankering for a donut, but just a little one? Try the loukoumades (Greek donuts) at Gre.co. The classic version features Greek honey, walnuts, and cinnamon. Gre.co steps it up with their own varieties, including Yaya’s (with hazelnut praline and Oreo cookies) and Troy Story (peanut butter, snickers, and caramel). Or create your own loukoumades with toppings like dark chocolate, pistachios, coconut flakes, and walnuts.