As summer nears and temperatures rise, visitors and locals flock to ice cream and other shops in New York to get their sugar fixes.
Finding some of the city's best sweets is simple if one listens to the advice of Alexa Matthews, a New Yorker whose job description is "professional eater." Matthews offers all kinds of foodie advice and restaurant tips on her website eating.nyc and has more than 325,000 Instagram followers.
"With an abundance of sweets shops ranging from vegan doughnut shops to goat-milk ice cream, I’ve narrowed this guide to my absolute favorite spots for ice cream and classic bakeries," she says.
The following are five ice cream parlors and five bakeries she recommends, followed by her comments about each.
Ample Hills, 11 locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. "Ample Hills Creamery has really re-invented the wheel when it comes to ice cream. They’ve taken all our favorite, most indulgent desserts, like Rice Krispies Treats, milk and cookies and even New York cheesecake, and turned them into decadent ice cream flavors. Some of my favorite flavors are ooey-gooey butter cake, the raw deal and the munchies."
Morgenstern's, two Manhattan locations. "Walk into Morgenstern’s, and you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to a 1950s ice cream parlor. For more classic offerings, expect several variations of vanilla, chocolate, caramel, coffee and strawberry ice cream. You can also expect flavors like milkshake fries to black licorice at their new Houston Street location which boasts more than 100 options."
Milk & Cream Cereal Bar, one Manhattan location. "Their brand is cereal, and they certainly do it well. This Nolita dessert shop features ice cream, milkshakes and bowls of milk with a plethora of cereal mix-ins and toppings available. It’s a nostalgic, fun food destination."
Il Laboratorio Del Gelato, two Manhattan locations. "As the name implies, Il Laboratorio Del Gelato is a serious facility or “lab” where they make creamy gelato by hand in small batches to ensure the finest quality. They often work with chefs and caterers to create unique flavors, so chances are they’re the purveyor for one of your favorite restaurants."
Big Gay Ice Cream, three Manhattan locations. "What started as a seasonal ice cream truck is now a brick-and-mortar business serving soft-serve ice cream as it should be: year-round and topped with mind-blowing topping combos. Big Gay Ice Cream, by Doug Quint and Bryan Petroff, makes all the ice cream classics you remember with the highest-quality ingredients. My go-to here is the Monday sundae, a chocolate and vanilla swirl with a Nutella-coated cone, all topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce."
Breads Bakery, three Manhattan locations. "From fresh banana bread to warm chocolate chip cookies, everything at Breads Bakery is truly irresistible. But a trip here isn’t complete without a purchase of their chocolate babka. The babka is a rich, buttery brioche woven with layers of chocolate and Nutella, and it is hands down my favorite dessert in New York City."
Mah Ze Dahr, one Manhattan location. "After years spent in finance, Umber Ahmad, a Pakistani who grew up in Michigan, decided to open Mah Ze Dahr with renowned chef Tom Colicchio. I love this bakery for its simple, yet refreshing, takes on original pastries, dark chocolate explosion cookies and fresh brioche doughnuts."
Daily Provisions, one Manhattan location. "Daily Provisions is an all-day bakery and cafe brought to us by Danny Meyer. The casual, quick-service eatery offers some of my favorite baked goods, including shneckens and crullers — quite possibly the best rendition of a doughnut of all time — offered in maple, cinnamon and classic glaze. Stay tuned for a West Village location this summer!"
Bourke Street Bakery, one Manhattan location. "Bourke Street Bakery is a beloved Australian import that just opened its doors in Nomad this spring. It’s safe to say that its pastries and bread selection rank among the best the city has ever seen with innovative offerings like a ginger brulee tart, chocolate Belgian flourless cake and the best almond croissant
I’ve ever tried."
Dominique Ansel, two Manhattan locations. "No pastry list could be complete without the inclusion of Chef Dominique Ansel, who won the title of 'World’s Best Pastry Chef' in 2017. At his Soho bakery, you can choose from iconic favorites ranging from the classic DKA, cronuts, cookie shots, frozen s'mores and more."
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