When you just need something sweet, there’s no doubt that New York City has an overwhelming number of options to satisfy those cravings. But what if you’re feeling something a little more unconventional than a classic slice of New York cheesecake or vanilla cone from Mister Softee? ….Well hold tight because there’s no shortage of hidden dessert gems in NYC to satisfy that sweet tooth that never sleeps. From long-standing Chinese bakeries in Flushing to up-and-coming trendy spots in the Village, we have everything you’ll need to take a tour of NYC’s unconventional dessert scene. Experience the globe without leaving the city, discovering the magic in both old and new. Get ready to be impressed by all the unexpected flavors and textures. Locate the perfect spot to impress out-of-town friends or to bring your date or significant other. The experience will be so worth it that you won’t even regret those couple extra pounds on the scale or the minor (okay major) spike in blood sugar.
1. Ube Kitchen
First up on this list is this plant-based dessert powerhouse that serves up sweets as unconventional as they are delicious. You can find Ube Kitchen at the famous foodie paradise Smorgasburg– in Williamsburg on Saturdays and Prospect Park on Sundays. Their truly inspired creations highlight the transformational powers of ube (also known as purple yam and a staple of Filipino cuisine). Try the signature “Purple Dragon in a Dragon Fruit Shell“ (could it sound any more exciting??). It’s their plant-based version of a traditional and signature dessert from the Philippines called “halo halo” –which translates to English as “mix mix.“ It includes homemade salted vegan ube ice cream, fresh dragon fruit, a myriad of toppings,and a decadent almond ube milk sauce.
Also be sure to check out their ‘Hot Ube with Chocolate” (their upgraded ube version of hot chocolate) and the decadent Ube Coconut Flan Brulee Cupcake. Or try out their secret menu items: the Ube Scoop in a Salted Pretzel Cone and Ube Milk Float. And if you’re feeling something savory, try the crowd pleasing Vegan Mac-n-Cheez which sells out every weekend.
2. Meet Fresh
Next up, make sure you stop by this Taiwan-based dessert paradise that serves traditional Taiwanese favorites. Try the Taro Ball in Signature Grass Jelly (served on shaved ice or in a hot soup). The herbal jelly has a sweet, medicinal grass fragrance that pairs nicely with assorted chewy pillows of tapioca. The micro-beaded ice is subtly but not overly sweet. The taro balls are deliciously soft and chewy.
The combination of flavors, textures, and colors here is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. You might just want to come back every day for this one. You also might want to try the silky smooth Tofu Pudding and the soul-warming Hot Almond Soup. Stop by Cooper Square (near Astor Place) in lower Manhattan to get your fill to authentic Taiwanese sweet goodness.
3. Keki Modern Cakes
If you’re craving something beyond your standard New York style cheesecake, next you’ll need to stop by Keki– a Japanese bakery in Manhattan’s Koreatown that specializes in Japan’s signature bouncy cheesecakes. And trust us, this place really knows how to put a bounce in their many unique flavors of cheesecakes.
Make sure to try their decadent Matcha Fancy Cheesecake, with a gigantic layer of moist, bouncy matcha-flavored cheesecake and a bottom layer of traditional bouncy cheesecake– or if you still need more ube in your life– opt for the Ube Bouncy Cheesecake or Ube Cream Puffs. The flavors and textures will truly blow you away; you’ll probably have a hard time settling for a traditional slice of cheesecake once you experience the wonders of their bouncy cheesecakes.
4. Eggcellent Souffle Pancake
If you’re impressed by the bounciness of Japanese cheesecake, you just might be blown away by the fluffy, doughy Japanese soufflé pancakes that are served up at this Flushing staple. The bite-sized wonders are almost too fluffy to handle and melt in your mouth. Grab them for the perfect dessert, the perfect sweet brunch option, or just as a snack when you feel like treating yourself. The classic is delicious and perfectly balanced, but consider adding berries or mango with yogurt for a fresh twist. Feeling truly decadent? Opt for the crème brulee soufflé cake… it’s a dessert lover’s dream.
If the soufflé cakes don’t fully satisfy your sweet tooth, this place also has some amazing pressed waffles. They come served with warm and gooey fillings, and have just the perfect texture with a light crunch. Try the matcha with chocolate or the purple yam… you won’t be disappointed.
5. Spot Dessert Bar
Spot now has three locations: the flagship at St. Mark’s, and two newer locations in Koreatown and Flushing. The goodness just couldn’t be contained, and more and more people are catching on. This place turns out uniquely inventive treats with Asian and American influences and quite a bit of creativity.
Crowd pleasers include the scrumptious Milky Puff (consisting of a warm puff pastry, brûlée bananas, white chocolate honey comb, corn flakes, and condensed milk ice cream) the Cookie Camp (fresh half baked marshmallow cookie, pretzels, cookie crumbs and condensed milk ice cream) and the Matcha Lava (warm dark chocolate cake filled with matcha ganache, and matcha green tea ice cream). Our favorite is the unique and decadent Chestnut Butterscotch (chestnut miso cake, chestnut cream, roasted chestnut, chocolate tuile and condensed milk ice cream). You’ll have to come back multiple times to try them all…. maybe hit up all the different locations!
6. Bonsai Kakigori
Bonsai Kakigori is truly a rare find. It started with a temporary spot at the Canal Street Market and is now a Market mainstay, a Smorgasburg regular, and has a permanent standing location in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. What is Kakigori? It’s a majestic, pillowy Japanese shaved ice that’s hard to come by in the U.S…. and this place really takes their kakigori to the next level.
Go for the classics like Coconut Lime Crunch, the Matcha Mountain, or the Strawberries and Cream. If you’re lucky enough to have the option of trying one of the majestic seasonal options, go for Caramel Corn or Peanut Butter and Fig Jam—the flavors will impress even the most discerning foodie. Don’t miss their other inventive dessert options either; try out the Matcha Tiramisu or the Hojicha Chocolate Tart. Honestly, it’s safe to say you won’t be disappointed trying anything these dessert geniuses churn out.
7. Grace Street
Grace Street is a beloved staple in Manhattan’s Koreatown. They’re the perfect place to stop by for an impressive late-night dessert or a mid-day pick-me-up. They might be equally well-known for their Rose Petal Milk Tea and vast tea selection as they are for delicious and inventive sweet treats.
Pair a tea with the signature Ho-Dduk (Korean doughnuts) or the heavenly fluffy Matcha Beignets (served with matcha ice cream) or go for the famous shaved snow. The Rose (X.O.X.O.) or Matcha (Elixir) flavors are sure to please, or if you’re feeling inventive you can create your own combination of shaved snow and toppings!
Cha-An is a Japanese teahouse tucked away in Manhattan’s East Village that just happens to be a dessert lover’s paradise. For delicious crowd-pleasing classics try the moist and fluffy Matcha Chiffon Cake (served with coconut milk sauce), the Homemade Mochi (green tea, black sesame, or earl grey chocolate), or the Green Tea Parfait. For truly inventive fusion treats try the Black Sesame Créme Brulée, the Whisked Matcha Affogato, or the Hojicha Anmitsu (roasted green tea jelly with sweet black syrup, shiratama mocha, and hoji tea ice cream).
Obviously you’ll want to pair your sweet treat with one of their many, many tea selections. Go for a classic green like Genmaicha or Sencha or try an exotic herbal like Chrysanthemum Blossom, or you can make the tea your dessert and order arguably the best matcha latte in the city—the Premium Cold Matcha Latte, a delicious concoction served with green tea ice cream, red bean, whipped cream, and brown sugar syrup.
9. Lady M Cake Boutique
Stop by one of the many NYC locations of this boutique cake shop for a taste of cake that is most definitely unlike any other cake you’ve had before. They are the pioneers of the Mille Crepe Cake- a cake that is composed of extremely light and thin crepes layered with a light and fluffy crème. The result is a perfectly balanced bite of flavor and texture. Try the popular classics- Vanilla, Coconut, or Matcha Green Tea flavors.
Once you’ve had your fill of Mille Crepes, there is no shortage of other artfully crafted sweet treats to sample. Try the classic Strawberry Shortcake or unique creations such as Banana Mille Feuilles or Pumpkin Nuage. The flavors and textures will delight you.
10. Eileen’s Special Cheesecake
Eileen’s is a hidden gem found in Lower Manhattan and is your one-stop shop for all of the cheesecakes your sweet tooth can handle. Their cheesecakes are classic New York style—but with a twist, actually lots of twists.
They’re serving up quite an assortment of unexpected flavors—more than you could probably think of—Red Velvet, Amaretto, Dulce de Leche, Salted Caramel, Mango and Pumpkin just to name a few. And you can get them in mini or full-sized options. They’re lighter than your average New York style cheesecake, and they definitely provide you with more flavor options. Don’t forget to try their homemade rugelach—the chocolate and cinnamon flavors are delicious!
This spot, located in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, might just be the answer to every child’s and every dessert lover’s dreams. They’re serving up cookie dough, yes—cookie dough—all on its own in cups like it’s ice cream. If you don’t believe it you’ll just have to go and try it for yourself.
The classic Chocolate Chip dough is a solid choice; the Sugar Cookie dough is a hidden favorite. If you don’t want just plain dough, there are other phenomenal options—try the delicious Salted Butterscotch Blondie Bar, the Cookie Dough Fudge (chocolate or white chocolate options), the Cookie Bomb (a stuffed cookie topped with cookie dough buttercream frosting), or our personal favorite the Brookie (a brownie layered with half-baked cookie dough and topped with chocolate ganache).
12. Gooey on the Inside
If you prefer your cookie dough baked, warm, and gooey—well then this place in Manhattan’s Lower East Side is the spot for you. They’re serving up arguable the best cookies in NYC… and there’s a lot of tough competition. The cookies are just the perfect texture and consistency….they’re exactly what you’re looking for when you’re craving a warm, freshly baked cookie.
Gooey is serving up a full menu of scrumptious cookie flavors—try the classic Chocolate Chunk or the crowd pleasing Birthday Cake (with rainbow sprinkles and melty white chocolate chips throughout). For unique flavors, try the Sweet Potato Pie or Smores (both of which contain an ooey gooey toasted marshmallow on top) or opt for the Dunkaroo or Red Velvet. All the cookies live up to the hype—and they are indeed gooey on the inside. If you want to take it a step further, try any of these flavors in their Warm Molten Cookie in a Jar (for the serious sweet tooths).
Another cookie spot you’ll need to try is this crowd favorite with two NYC locations. They’ve got a growing base of support… and for good reason. Here you can satisfy your craving for a classic chocolate chip cookie, but you’ll probably want to try one of their many creative confections.
We recommend the Cookie Butter Bliss or Funfetti to please even the pickiest dessert eaters. The Peanut Butter After Dark (featuring peanut butter and chocolate) and Dulce de Leche are also solid options. The Cereal Killer (Fruit Loops, Fruity Pebbles, marshmallows, Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, and marshmallow frosting) is a fan favorite—and for good reason. Want something even more unique? Try the Candied Yam (cornmeal, sweet corn kernels, cranberries, and pecan bits) or Rosemary’s Baby (pine nuts, rosemary, and lemon glaze).
14. Stick With Me
Here we have another hidden gem in Lower Manhattan—and this one’s serving up some of the most exquisite chocolates you’ll probably ever get to taste. They’re known most for their very photogenic multi-colored Bon-Bons that come in a huge assortment of flavors.
Try the Liquid Salted Caramel Bon-Bon (dark chocolate) or the Sea Salt Caramel (milk chocolate) for that chocolate and caramel fix. Other favorites are the Malted Milk Chocolate, Dulce de Leche (milk chocolate), House Praline (milk or dark chocolate) and Matcha White Chocolate…. and this is just the beginning! Trust us—you’ll be blown away by both the visual presentation and the flavor explosion. Get your Bon-Bon fix, and if you have room check out their Truffles and other sweet confections.
15. Taiyaki NYC
If you haven’t ever tried the heavenly Japanese creation known as taiyaki, then you’re missing out. Make sure you stop by one of the many locations of this NYC favorite to get your fill of the doughy and deliciously stuffed fish-shaped treats. The dough is made fresh and hot right in front of you, and there are many fillings to choose from—red bean is the classic. Or you can opt for a large mound of soft serve ice cream to stuff your fish—try the green tea and taro flavors (individually or as a swirl)!
16. Petee’s Pie Company
Petee’s serves a classic American fare—pies—but don’t be fooled… you’ll find much more than just your classic apple pie here. With locations in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and in Brooklyn, they’re living up to their reputation of serving the absolute best pie in NYC. Try the uniquely flavored Black Bottomed Almond Chess Pie (the black bottom is chocolate!) or opt for the Chocolate Pie for a satisfying slice with just the right touch of sweetness.
Want a spin on classic favorites? Try the Sweet Potato served with maple whipped cream or the sweet and crunchy Maple Whiskey Walnut. Don’t want just a regular slice of pie? Try their signature Slice Cream, it’s a mixture of their pie and ice cream served in a cup!
17. Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
This classic New York institution has been serving up decadent scoops in the Lower East Side for three decades, and now they have another location in Flushing. Swing by for an ice cream experience that is truly unrivaled. Try the heavenly delicious crowd-pleasing favorite Almond Cookie (made with Chinese almond cookies from the Famous Fung Wong Bakery, soaked and blended into the ice cream)! The Asian-influenced flavors like Lychee, Pandan, and Durian are hard to find elsewhere. Or go for the creamy classics like Coconut or Zen Butter.
18. Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co.
Looking for a guilt-free ice cream alternative? Trying to add more fruit to your diet? Check and check. Chloe’s has been serving up their beloved fruit soft serve to the health-conscious sweet tooths of New York for many years. The company was founded by a self-professed sweet tooth who was looking for a healthier dessert option. Chloe’s makes their soft serve from just fruit, water, and cane sugar. Try the classic banana or chocolate (or get them as a swirl!)… And there’s more than just soft serve—try a made-to-order dipped fruit pop or one of their delicious smoothies.
19. Pressed Juicery
You’ll probably expect to be stopping by this NYC staple for your fill of healthy and tasty juices. But you might not expect to be stopping here for dessert. Don’t let the name and the walls full of juices fool you—there’s a hidden dessert gem here. Select locations have what is known as the Freeze—it’s a non-dairy, non-guilt-inducing version of soft serve that’s actually made from their own satisfying meal-replacement drinks (vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry). Stop in to try the classic flavors with an abundance of personalized toppings, or come in to try a seasonal flavor like the highly-sought-after Pumpkin Freeze.