NYC Dessert Tour

Days before I became an official Big Apple resident, I came across a Harper's Bazaar (in the future, I will reference this as HB) dessert article during one of my late-night Facebook scrolls. As soon as I opened the file, pictures on top of pictures of beautifully documented New York City-based food graced my screen, specifically sweets. There were dioramas of cronuts, closeups of cookies, and images of specialty cakes that were coated in frosting so elegantly, they looked like they were designed by artists. Being the huge foodie that I am, I immediately saved this article and began crafting up my very own dessert to-do list, this tour was going to be my first, big NYC venture.

 

Weeks had passed and school was in session, I had made a couple of girlfriends, who I shared this dessert tour idea with, and their interest in it became as vibrant as mine. I wanted to get the ball rolling, I wanted to do this, to pursue it, I love eating so much (just being real here) and this needed to be accomplished.  Especially considering now, I had a basic understanding of where all the neighborhoods for these sweet stops resided so, I pitched the idea of vlogging and writing a NYC dessert tour in one of my very first Her Campus pitch meetings and a food baby was born!

 

How I did it:

So I started with the basics, I followed the HB article a bit, but then eventually went off the guidelines. When further reading into it, it turns out that a lot of the locations mentioned were scattered throughout the island and this girl WAS NOT traveling to 10+ manhattan neighbors in one day, my feet nor my metro card balance could have taken that. I scoped out the desserts I've always wanted to try, the neighborhoods they were found in, the distance from one place to another, the most popular time for tourists to visit (HUGE FACTOR and you’ll see why when reading in my first location), and the areas that contained multiple famous dessert locations (so the distance from one another was manageable). Also, all of the places I chose had to be pretty close to FiDi (where I so happily live) just for time’s sake. After everything, I befriended Google Maps and mapped out a travel mode directional guide that only failed on me twice during the whole tour and picked a day/time to venture out; September 28th, 10:00 am stat. Now, this my friends is where the fun began:

 

Location 1, the Dominique Ansel Bakery: 

Off to Soho/West Village for location one, the Dominique Ansel Bakery, named after the French-born pastry chef, Dominique Ansel. This bakery is FAMOUS for its sweets and it’s not the only location of its kind. Dominique Ansel has bakeries all over the world, from London to Los Angeles, his name is pretty high and mighty in the world of desserts. I’ve known about Dominique Ansel and his bakery since his name took flight in 2013 after his invention of the “Cronut” came out and me, being the queen of carbs, was hooked. What is a cronut you ask? It’s a pastry that is in the form of a donut, taking up the consistency of a croissant, filled with flavored cream/jelly. The Cronut is so popular that Dominique Ansel trademarked the Cronut name after nine days of its existence. There have been so many hybrids and copycats of the Cronut, but the one at Dominique Ansel’s is the OG, first-ever version so, my a$$ had to have it. 

My group and I got to the Dominique Ansel bakery at 10:30-10:45 am and we were hit with a huge line upon our arrival. I knew there would be a line, but this line looked like it was rush hour at Starbucks. I was kinda confused, considering it was earlyish, so I wandered up to the front. I was also hit with a very dapper looking employee, who was leading groups into the bakery, one by one. I immediately asked him if this line was for Dominique Ansel and he shot me a look of disgust saying it was, but specifically for the cronut. My dumb self went back to my group, shaking my head, passing all the other dessert feins heavily thinking about the fact that I was going to be waiting 30 minutes+ for a mutant donut but hey, anything for the article. This leads me to my previous point of why you should always get to any famous venue, event, dessert hotspot on time because of how jammed packed it gets and if you don’t mind waiting, bring waters and a fan because s#!* gets hot. So anyway, we waited for about 35 minutes outside and it wasn’t bad at all, having good company really made time fly. Before you know it, we were getting taken into Dominique Ansel, a secret service style only to wait yet another 20 minutes for the Cronut. Yeah, we did end up waiting again but at least we were inside now and right next to the ovens where the cronuts were made *insert heart eye emoji.* Finally, we were up at the register getting asked how we could be helped. I remember saying “Can I have a Cronut?” faster than I can blink, but the woman at the register was so confused on why I didn’t want to ask for 2 (apparently there's a limit on how many cronuts a person can get and the cap off is 2 so, a lot of times people ask for the max to get the full effect). While honestly, I am a go big or go home girl, Cronuts are expensive things and I had to save up for the other 3 spots so it was 1 for me. In the end, yes, I did end up getting my Cronut and yes, I ate it in a pretty flower room, looking bomb as hell (where you can see from the photos presented). Thankfully everyone in my party who wanted one got theirs too. Also just to note, as soon as we left the register, they were sold out (shocker, but SCORE). My overall rating and info will be stated below for the Cronut along with pictures to follow, but before you read them just know, the Cronut was so worth the wait! 

 

Taste and texture of treat: 

The Cronut had MANY layers. So many, in fact, that there actually was a “how to eat it” step by step sign outside of the bakery. The base of the cronut (the dough part) was dense, buttery, cinnamon-flavored, and crispy. The layers surrounding the cake part were flaky and moist. Inside the Cronut was some sweet berry-flavored jam and white cream which honestly was why I didn’t give the Cronut a perfect score (it was too many outlets of sweet all at once). There was also some pasted purple icing on top of the Cronut which was cute for the aesthetic but also wasn’t beneficial to the dessert (like the jam and cream). In the end, the dessert was great, it filled me up and was a solid size. I felt that the cronut could’ve been fine without all the jazz, though, because the cronut part itself was genuinely delicious.

 

Atmosphere of the bakery: 

Feminine, fresh, and tight (but tolerable). The flower wall was cute and was also apart of the “Garden” experience the Dominique Ansel Bakery was promoting inside their store. 

 

Price: 

$6.00 (price does not include sales tax)   

 

Location: 

189 Spring St 

New York, NY 10012

(212)-219-2773

 

Hours of Operation:  

MON-SAT: 8AM-7PM & SUN: 9AM-7PM

 

Fun facts and helpful info in regards to the place: 

As stated earlier, there is a limit in regards to how many cronuts an individual can get and it’s 2 PER PERSON MAX. There is also a new cronut flavor every month so, when I went it was September 2019, and the cronut flavor being sold was red plum and toasted almonds. Note that they also ONLY sell that one specialty flavor of the month choice Cronut at the bakeshop, so there isn’t a variety of Cronut options for consumers to pick from. The bakery also runs out of cronuts fast, especially on weekends, so you should probably get there before hours of operation even begins. If you cannot get your Cronut the day you visit, you can always look into their pre-order system and pick them up at their bakeshop location (will link below Pre Order info). 

 

Would I go back?: 

Of course! The Dominique Ansel bakery is well known for so many other sweets besides the cronut for example: the “What-A-Melon soft serve”, the “Chocolate Chip Cookie Shot”, and the“Frozen S’mores” are all top sellers at their bakeshop(s).  

Did I like it?: Yes!

Overall rating (out of 10, 10 being the highest, 1 being the lowest): 8/10

Helpful links: https://nyc.cronutpreorder.com/products-page/cronuts/cronut/ https://www.dominiqueansel.com/the-creations/ 

 

Location 2, Big Gay Ice Cream:

After Cronuts, we headed out to Big Gay Ice Cream in Greenwich Village. Big Gay first started out as an ice cream truck but became an actual ice cream parlor in September 2011. There are currently 3+ Big Gay locations, a couple in NYC and 1 in Philly, so I found the closest one to Dominque Ansel because I NEEDED to try their famous soft serve. When I first walked into Big Gay I was in love with the bright popping decor, the cleanliness of the parlor, and the sweet/fast-acting staff. My lactose-intolerant self decided to get a huge chocolate soft serve cone with rainbow sprinkles because I have absolutely NO self-control when it comes to ice cream, especially when there are sprinkles involved. I probably devoured the whole cone in under 3 minutes and I regret nothing. Also, the absolute BEST thing about Big Gay was the fact that there wasn’t a line present when my group and I walked in *insert heart eye emoji again.* Yeah, no one was there but I am not complaining one bit. It was a perfect experience and hands down one of the BEST soft serves I’ve ever had. 

 

Taste and texture of treat: 

Big Gay’s soft serve was so soft, light, and easy to down. Everything from the sprinkles to the sugar cone brought me back to my childhood nostalgia; at Jersey Shore boardwalk, eating ice cream with my family. Adding a bit more on the flavor, the chocolate taste was a nice mixture of rich and mellow and there were definitely hints of vanilla scattered within the cream. 

Atmosphere of the parlor: 

Big Gay’s West Village location was pretty spacious, there were even several tables and chairs to sit inside. Everything was really clean, bright, and vibrant as stated earlier, I loved the wall art and the modern takes of LGBTQA+ activism decor which coated the whole parlor. I cannot speak on behalf of what the other locations are like, but I have a pretty good idea of what the Seaport location looks like because I don’t live too far from that district. The Seaport’s Big Gay is smaller than Greenwich Village’s, but when I pass it, it’s always very bright and clean looking inside. 

Price: 

Do not recall the price off the top of my head but it was very inexpensive. My cone was definitely under 5 dollars. 

Location/Hours of Operation:

Philadelphia Center City

1351 South Street

Philadelphia, PA 19147

(267)-886-8024

Hours: SUN-THURS 12PM-10PM & FRI-SAT 12PM-12AM

NYC East Village

125 East 7th Street

New York, NY 10009

(212)-533-9333

Hours: SUN-THURS 11AM-11PM & FRI-SAT 11AM-12AM

 

NYC West Village 

61 Grove Street

New York, NY 10014

(212)-533-9333

Hours: SUN-WED 11AM-11PM & THURS-SAT 11PM-12AM

 

NYC South Street Seaport

207 Front St

New York, NY 10038

(267)-886-8024

Hours: SUN-THURS 12PM-10PM & FRI-SAT 12PM-12AM

 

Fun facts and helpful info in regards to the place: 

As you can see above, there are MULTIPLE Big Gay locations and if that’s not enough, you can buy pints of their specialty ice cream flavors in several food stores all across the country. Big Gay offers a menu that consists of make your own cone/cup, specialty flavors, milkshakes, ice cream sandwiches, sundaes, and dip cones. 

Would I go back?: 100% duh!

Did I like it?: It was amazing, the staff was so nice, cone was delicious, and the atmosphere was great.

Overall rating (out of 10, 10 being the highest, 1 being the lowest): 10/10 

Helpful links: https://biggayicecream.com/

 

Location 3, Milk Bar Bakery:

Our second to last stop, and also directly behind Big Gay, lies the social media famous Milk Bar store/bakery! I have ALWAYS wanted to go and try Milk Bar ever since I stumbled upon their bright, pink Instagram page a couple of years ago. My group and I went to the Milk Bar bakery location in West Village, following our Soho/West Village dessert path. In total there are 9 NYC locations dispersed throughout the island alongside 3 in Washington DC, 1 in Los Angeles, 1 in Boston, 1 in Las Vegas, and 1 in Toronto. The OG Milk Bar store opened its doors in East Village, NYC in 2008 and grew its popularity after head chef and co-owner, Christina Tosi, started selling her “happy mistake” desserts, proving the point of imperfection is beauty. Some of her mistakes being sold are the “Compost Cookie”, the “Milk Bar Pie” (formerly known as the “Crack Pie”), and the “Cereal Milk”. When we first entered, there wasn’t a line and my group and I were in complete shock considering the time and day. But as recently stated, there are so many NYC locations that we assumed the popularity of the bakery was just dispersed throughout the city. My friends got the Cereal Milk soft-serve ice cream and I got the Milk Bar Pie, but we shared each other so we all got to try some staple desserts of Milk Bar. Overall, we were happy we got to cross going to this popular bakery off all our personal bucket lists, but we weren’t completely impressed with the desserts we got. Milk Bar just didn’t compare to Dominque Ansel and Big Gay. I’ll go into more detail down below, but closing off on this location, I’ll throw in 2 positives: the decor was really cute and pink and the employees were helpful in regards to clearing up any confusion my friends and with the menu items.

Taste and texture of treat:

-”Milk Bar Pie”: The pie in my eyes was completely underwhelming, there was a lack of flavor and it was quite dry. The flavors I was able to redeem from it, though, were dull hints of caramel, nuts, and vanilla. It was also cold, which I had no idea that it would be served that way, and the slice wasn’t that big, especially for what I paid for it. 

-”Cereal Milk” soft-serve ice cream: I actually liked this more than the pie, probably because it was so rich in flavor; it tasted just like fresh milk! The soft serve is definitely the better option because you can pick whatever toppings you want on it and Milk Bar really fills your cup up with ice cream. My friends didn’t like it as much as I did because of the strong taste and overwhelming amount, but I was a HUGE fan. 

Atmosphere of the bakery/dessert shop: 

The shop was small, but it was decorated so cutely. I loved the neon pink color scheme, which was followed all throughout the store from the soft serve cups to the employees' uniforms. There were free samples being given out, which made me happy because it was just another thing I could try and it so happened the samples of the day were “Chocolate B’day Truffles”. The truffles were very bland in flavor and the consistency of them was dry and crumbly, I didn’t like them one bit, but I appreciated that they were there for the customer’s sake. 

 

Price: 

-“Milk Bar Pie”: $5.50-$44.00 (depending on size/amount bought, tax not included)

-“Truffles”: $4.35-$17.40  (depending on size/amount bought, tax not included)

-“Cereal Milk” soft-serve ice cream: $5.00-$10.00 (depending on size/amount bought, tax not included)

-Toppings: fudge $0.75, crunch $0.75, sprinkles $0.25, chocolate chips $0.25

 

Location: I will link below Milk Bar’s page that shares all of their locations, but the address for the Milk Bar I went to is: 

Milk Bar West Village

74 Christopher St

New York, NY 10014

(646)-678-5189

 

Hours of Operation:  

MON–THUR: 9AM-12AM

FRI–SAT: 9AM-1AM

SUN: 9AM-12AM

 

Fun facts and helpful info in regards to the place: 

You can order a majority of their menu online and have it shipped to your house/picked up and they also have a Gluten-Free menu!  

Would I go back?: I would give it a 2nd chance, but definitely at another location. 

Did I like it?: I didn’t like the pie or the truffles, the ice cream was good and so was the ambiance, I’m in the middle for my decision. 

Overall rating (out of 10, 10 being the highest, 1 being the lowest): 6.5/10

Helpful links: https://milkbarstore.com/pages/locations https://milkbarstore.com/collections https://www.menuwithprice.com/menu/momofuku-milk-bar/

 

Location 4, Magnolia Bakery:

Spoiler! This was definitely my favorite location. The Magnolia Bakery is WORLD RENOWNED, with its first-ever location found in West Village on Bleeker Street (where we went). I’ve always wanted to go to Magnolia ever since I saw the Sex and the City cameo of Carrie and Miranda in front of the bakery, stuffing their faces with cupcakes (very basic of me, I know). Magnolia is popular for their cupcakes, yes, but all heads really turn when you bring up their “Famous Banana Pudding” which, I got hint, hint. My friends really enjoyed Magnolia too and the surrounding neighborhood was also a real treat and a great escape from the high rises we’re used to. I definitely saved the best for last!

Taste and texture of treat:

So I got the “Famous Banana Pudding” which I mentioned earlier and oh my, this is definitely in my top 5 BEST things I’ve eaten. My friend got their coconut macaroons and she had no complaints either. More on the pudding though, it was so light and fluffy, not too sweet, there were also multiple sizes the pudding came in and a monthly flavor, but I got classic because I wanted the OG experience. I didn’t feel stuffed or bloated either and I was able to finish my pudding because the portion I got was so small. 

Atmosphere of the bakery: 

Magnolia was cute and quaint just like I expected it to be, it was also very small which made it hard to move around in. There was, of course, a line, but it was worth the small wait and tight corners.

Price: “Famous Banana Pudding”

Small: $4.50  

Medium: $6.25 

Large: $7.50 

Small Bowl: $38.00 (serves 8) 

Medium Bowl: $45.00 (serves 10) 

Large Bowl: $75.00 (serves 20)

 

Location:

401 Bleecker Street and W. 11th Street

New York, NY

(212)-462-2572

 

Hours of Operation:  

SUN-THUR: 9:30AM-10:30PM

FRI-SAT: 9:30AM-11:30PM

 

Fun facts and helpful info in regards to the place: 

There are MULTIPLE Magnolia locations throughout NYC, but the one I went to was the original, I will drop a link down for the other Manhattan/National/International based locations below. I also mentioned earlier that Magnolia does a lot of monthly flavors for several of their dessert items, so if you like their seasonal flavors, definitely check that out. You can also have a majority of their dessert items shipped to your house, even if you live internationally!

Would I go back?: I go back A LOT in fact, I run there sometimes. 

Did I like it?: YES X’S 100!

Overall rating (out of 10, 10 being the highest, 1 being the lowest): 11/10, whoops

Helpful links: https://www.magnoliabakery.com/locations/ https://www.magnoliabakery.com/pdf/magnoliabakery-menu-2019.pdf

 

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