Believe it or not, the best restaurants in Boston aren’t necessarily tending to your very demanding sweet tooth. Enter the best desserts in Boston. From crack cakes to excellent bread pudding and some of the best donuts in Boston, these local establishments offer the kinds of sweets that will revive your taste buds. And, if you feel like you’ve indulged a bit too much, burn a few calories off while walking around town on the best Boston city tours.
Best desserts in Boston
You don’t count on an izakaya to have one of the best desserts in town—usually you’re there to front-load on the sushi and yakitori. But Uni is full of surprises, none more notable than its take on the convenience store classic. Chef Tony Messina freezes a ball of homemade coconut sorbet with liquid nitrogen before dipping it into a hot chocolate glaze (aka: a more grownup take on chocolate magic shell).
When you save your pennies for a meal at Menton, you’re thinking lobster and caviar, not bread pudding. But you’d be remiss not to zero in on the indulgent classic from chef de cuisine Scott Jones (think Barbara Lynch’s much revered vanilla bread pudding kicked up one exorbitant notch). Even better: The bread pudding actually appears on the Gold Bar menu, a more casual, affordable and more evergreen lineup available to walk-in customers (beware, though: there are only six seats up for grabs).
Rare is the dessert considered too pretty to eat, but this artful concoction comes close. New pastry chef Giselle Miller loves playing with textures, colors and outré ingredients, including savory elements; every dessert is a no-filter-needed Instagram masterpiece. Le Jardin is a delicate but scrumptious entry, a spheroid of frozen English cucumber skyr nestled atop an herbal sorbet, with tiny balls of Thai basil cremeux sitting astride. Add in a smattering of edible purple flowers and you’ll find yourself hardpressed to dig in—and very grateful when you do.
When a restaurant only serves two desserts, you expect them to be either extraordinary or forgettable. La Brasa’s sweets are firmly in the former camp and its flan in particular is one of those perfectly executed classics that attracts the raves of other area chefs. The custard comes topped with a mound of freshly whipped cream and an unexpected sprinkle of vegetable ash, which adds a perfect dash of smoke to the dish.
Any dessert with “crack” in the title is bound to be worth the splurge. Chef Andy Husbands saves the caramelized, almost-burnt edges of his butter pound cake and, rather than toss them away, turns them into a small but potent dessert. Sticky, addictive and costing you only five bucks, the cracklings feel indulgent but not excessive—never mind a great use of resources: this is a dessert for all those scrappy sweet tooths who insist on licking the bowl.
The name pretty much tells you everything you need to know. Chef Tiffani Faison has taken the Nabisco classic and supersized it, baking two homemade crisp peanut butter cookies and then filling them with a whipped, smooth peanut buttery filling that makes you rue the years you settled for Jif. What brings it home is the coarse salt sprinkled on top, which gives the cookie a sweet-and-savory kick.
We don’t want to go too crazy here, but: why hasn't anyone thought of this before? Made of layered donut batter (chocolate or vanilla), with a seasonal jam in the middle and a buttercream frosting on top, these mini-cakes are like monstrous, frosted jelly donuts that you can actually bring to a birthday party. The cakes serve four people… or a single person that is really craving dessert.
Head pastry chef Meghan Thompson has just arrived from Townsman and has already hit the kitchen floor running. Her Italian desserts incorporate both seasonal ingredients and the SRV’s house-milled flour, meaning even the simplest morsels are notably sublime. The current highlight is the pistachio olive oil cake: a rich, deconstructed piece of heaven served with frozen yogurt, blood orange syrup, calamansi vinegar (that’s a citrus brandy vinegar) and a pinch of sorrel. Keep an eye on her spring and summer menu as she starts to churn out seasonal gelatos and revamps the restaurant’s bread program.
When you walk into Rosebud, it’s the first thing you see: a display case full of pies, reminiscent of the lunch counters of yore. Little wonder, then, that Rosebud’s pies are so popular, frequently sold out before the end of the dinner rush. These are seasonal glories, so flavors vary day to day, but count on the cherry and Dutch apple for guaranteed deliciousness and keep an eye out for especially indulgent flavors like mocha cream and peanut butter fudge.
Homemade Greek honey donuts—basically, a far superior take on the Dunkin’ Donuts munchkin—are the perfect way to satisfy a sugar hankering without going overboard. And Gre.co, the newish fast-casual Greek restaurant in the Back Bay, is the quickest way to get your fix. Choose among five varieties, including the Yaya’s (hazelnut praline, Oreo cookies) and the Golpho (caramel, almonds, sea salt). Or you can go (do)nuts and fashion your own, choosing from toppings like dark chocolate, pistachios, coconut flakes and walnuts.