Best bakeries in NYC
Sure, Seinfeld launched babka into popularity after its notorious episode, but Breads Bakery put it on the map—and into our thankful mouths—when it opened in Union Square six years ago. Today, its chocolaty, gooey rolls of joy are considered not only the best babkas around town, but also some of the best pastries, full stop. We’re excited to have its crowd favorite, alongside other flaky, buttery treats like croissants, strudels and chocolate chip cookies, here at the market. The baked goods are best relished with an espresso or a cortado or a cappuccino—yadda, yadda, yadda.
Dominique Ansel not serving Cronuts is like Mick Jagger not singing “Satisfaction”—you risk losing the crowd if you don’t deliver the hits. But with a back catalog as extensive and worthy as Ansel’s, it wasn’t all that earth-quaking when the pastry icon announced he would be favoring deep-cut desserts over that croissant-doughnut phenom at Dominique Ansel Kitchen, the sophomoric effort to his hysteria-inducing bakery in Soho. The counter-service West Village follow-up is more spacious than the pint-size original, but there are no iPhone-primed lines to be found here—that’s because the work Ansel’s doing is more quietly radical than the hammy Wonka–fied hybrids on the lips of every tourist.
You could walk by Burrow three times and miss it (and we have). Located inside the lobby of a run-of-the-mill glass building eyesore in Dumbo, there's no street-facing storefront giving you a glimpse of the magic inside. Burrow has quiet confidence. There's no over-the-top decorations or absurd confetti insides and there's nowhere to sit. But the cakes and pastries are insanely worth burrowing for. Stand-out cakes include: the green tea opera-style, the pistachio, the sweet corn cake and the banana tart.
Next door to that Union Square Café sits this small café sister issuing out Joe Coffee and house-baked breads (caraway rye, a house miche) and pastries (crullers in cinnamon-sugar, maple or original glaze) courtesy of head baker Justin Rosengarten. Chef Carmen Quagliata expands those offerings to include breakfast gougères and lunch sandwiches. The intimate space operates mostly as a takeout spot but there is a handful of high-top tables if you want to tuck in on site.
Since 2014, beloved pastry chef Umber Ahmad—along with pastry-partner Shelly Barbera (Brooklyn Fare, Aldea)—has been running her wholesale operation online, cranking out her famous cheesecakes and brioche doughnuts from a Harlem kitchen, much to the delight of her devoted customers (Oprah and Tom Colicchio are notable fans.) This West Village brick-and-mortar location has enough room to host baking classes and events. For the first time ever, savory goods have their place on the menu, as well as new brioche morning buns and fresh tarts, alongside longtime favorites (dark-chocolate brownies) and a full-service coffee-and-espresso bar to boot.
This bakery from Ry Stephen of Mr. Holmes Bakehouse in L.A., San Francisco and Seoul takes desserts one step further with far-out sweets like a charcoal-meringue–stuffed squid-ink brioche and a torched-meringue–topped Cruffin filled with coconut-lime curd. But the standout morsel is the NYC (New York Croissant), a buttery everything-bagel croissant packed with cream cheese, capers and chunks of lox.
At the decade-old Pilar Cuban Eatery’s new Bed-Stuy sister spot, owner-chef Ricardo Barreras rethinks breakfast with underused-in-NYC Cuban ingredients. The casual menu is perfect for on-the-go bites. Or stay and nosh amid the kitsch of Miami cafés: an ’80s-style painting of a papaya, a fake marlin, geometric pastel tiling and a spunky neon sign that displays the shop’s name.
Haute pastry whiz Tomoko Kato (Bouley Bakery, Le Bernardin) crosses the bridge for this dessert tasting menu restaurant spotlighting French-Japanese confections. Snag a seat at the eight-seat horseshoe-shaped bar for a three-course prix fixe including an amuse-bouche, a choice of sweet and petits fours. The pastries can be paired with wine, coffee or In Pursuit of Tea brews.
The sweets at this venerable Upper East Side bake shop are almost too pretty to eat—think rich chocolate cakes covered with elaborate icing flowers. Chocoholics will agree that the cocoa-on-cocoa cupcake is the city’s best.
The beloved Bourke Street Bakery Sydney café that opened in 2004 by Paul Allam and David McGuinness, debuts in NoMad with its first-ever New York expansion (the New York space is run by Allam and wife, Jessica Grynberg). Pastries and cakes include lemon curd tarts, carrot cake, ginger crème brûlée, as well as New York-only treats like a PB & J roll. But their savory sausage rolls—lamb and harissa, pork and fennel, as well as a vegetarian-friendly version made with eggplant, chickpea, feta and mint—are what they've come to be known for.
Erin Patinkin and Agatha Kulaga, the duo behind the popular wholesale bakery, showcase their quirky pastries in their first retail location—a stylish 13-seat café decked out with herringbone tile and green-and-white patterned wallpaper. Take your Brooklyn Blackout Cake (made with Brooklyn Brewery beer and salted chocolate pudding) or carrot ginger cake with honey buttercream.
At some restaurants, bread is an afterthought—baskets of chalky, uninspired dinner rolls shuffled out with chilled, foil-wrapped butter. This is not that restaurant, and it’s certainly not that bread. At High Street on Hudson, the day-to-night West Village sibling to the lauded Philadelphia restaurant, High Street on Market, the astonishing loaves—potent New World ryes, hearty German-style vollkornbrot, anadama miche enriched with molasses—obliterate the idea of bread as mere mealtime filler. Here, it is the meal.
Pastry whiz Christina Tosi conjures up homey sweets at this bakery spin-off from the Momofuku team. In recent years, Tosi has been a globally-recognized fixture in the food scene with countless partnerships and a her very own Chef's Table episode. Milk Bar continues to churn out whimsical sweets, most notably for their cereal-milk soft serve.
This iconic Arthur Avenue bakery has supplied locals with Italian baked goods—from cannoli to wedding cakes—since 1960. Pass time waiting in the shop's ever-present line by admiring the photos of famous visitors that appear on the walls, like Joe Pesci and Al Pacino.
You’ll find doughy fritters, not Tinkerbell, at this Greenpoint standby. Dip your lightly glazed raised doughnut into steaming coffee at the curved counter or box up a dozen still-warm chocolate cake rounds and black-raspberry jellies—just some of the 20-odd varieties baked daily.
This sunny European-American bakery, opened by a pair of Philadelphia transplants, has established itself as a neighborhood favorite in Cobble Hill. Zachary Golper, formerly the head baker at fancy-pants French restaurant Le Bec-Fin, is the man behind the bread, and he named his debut shop after the French saying bien cuit, meaning a “well-done” darkened crust. The airy café offers a plentiful variety of baked goods, including breads, morning pastries, minitarts and open-faced sandwiches.
Forget all the egg tarts you’ve ever tasted in New York. This bakery’s Portuguese tart is the best we’ve tasted. Enveloped in a buttery dough, the jiggly custard is full of vanilla and almond notes, but the tart itself is not overly sweet. We always order more than one (after all, they’re $2 a pop).
The cookies at Levain Bakery are the stuff of legends: Massive mounds that stay underdone in the middle, making them manna for cookie-dough lovers. Don’t miss the lush, brownielike double-chocolate number.
At this snug bakery and café in Red Hook, kids can load up on homestyle American sweets like fruit pies, brownies, cupcakes and red velvet cake. The traditional apple pie is the best we've ever had (sorry, Mom).
This box-size boulangerie—attached to the iconic and ever-trendy Balthazar bistro—does a roaring trade with locals and tourists alike. It's flaky croissants, heavenly pastries and sturdy loaves are deployed as a mark of quality at cafés and restaurants around the city.
The two South Dakota–reared sisters who opened Four & Twenty Blackbirds learned pie-baking from their grandma, and her expert instruction is evident in varieties like lemon chess, rhubarb custard and salty honey enveloped in an exquisitely flaky crust. Linger at one of the comfy communal tables long enough, and your kids are bound to request a second slice—but if you want to take home a whole pie, you'll need to order it at least 48 hours in advance.
Jim Lahey has made his name selling some of New York’s best breads, at this essential bakery and other gourmet stores around the city. Toothsome round loafs get an extra dose of goodness from raisins, walnuts and olives; the bomboloni, or Italian-style doughnuts, satisfy sweet tooths of all ages with vanilla bean custard or a fruit jam filling.
You can still grab a great cup of jo and biscotti here, but allow yourself to be lured by gorgeous cakes, cannoli and deliciously creamy deep-dish cheesecake behind the counter. Then pull up a chair at one of the charming wooden tables and savour your purchase while marveling at the Neapolitan glass ceiling and Italian renaissance art decorating the walls.
Venue says Veniero's, since 1894!.. as close to Italy as you can get without a plane ticket.
If heaven had a scent, it would probably smell a lot like Petee's Pies on the Lower East Side—buttery, cinnamon-y, carb-y. Set on bustling Delancey Street near the entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge, the exterior doesn't scream cozy, but once you step inside the tiny storefront, you're surrounded by both modern and vintage touches. And co-owner and chef Petra Paredez incorporates the old with the new in her pastries as well, serving classic and old-school pie varieties like nesselrode (a chestnut-and-cherry pie from the 1940s), mince and almond chess, as well as other Norweigan-inspired bake goods.
Pierre Hermé acolyte Olivier Dessyn, who fell in love with New York City during a vacation here, moved from Paris and opened this humble shop in Greenwich Village. Inspired by NYU’s Elmer Holmes Bobst Library across the street, Dessyn named his patisserie after the mille-feuille, a layered dessert that reminded the toque of a book on its side. The baked goods are all traditional French—macarons, cheese brioche and chocolate sables—but the real standout is Dessyn’s croissant.
Josh Ku and Trigg Brown's restaurant, Win Son, proffers inventive takes on Taiwanese-American bites. Now the duo has opened a bakery located across the street serving excellent mochi donuts made in-house by pastry chef, Danielle Spence.
When Keith Cohen bought this bakery from its founding owners a few years back, he wanted to expand on the century-old kosher spot’s old-world reputation by producing cutting-edge artisan breads. While he still makes Orwasher’s famous Jewish rye, Cohen has remodeled the tiled-floor shop into a sunlit café, and now sells crusty European-style loaves and rustic “Artisan Wine” bread made with natural yeasts found on the grapes at Long Island’s Channing Daughters Winery.
As grown-ups we can have dessert whenever we want. But sadly we do not act upon that freedom as much as we could or should. There are few places where sweet treats are as much of an event as at the Dessert Bar at Patisserie Chanson, which offers a six-course tasting menu with optional (and recommended) cocktail pairings.