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These NYC Cafes Have the Best Holiday Treats

These NYC Cafes Have the Best Holiday Treats

Is it ever a proper holiday season if you don’t celebrate with a spread of festive treats? We don’t think so! Thankfully, a well-decorated sweet is never far away if you live in New York City. This season, residents have the opportunity to try the very best cakes, pies, cookies, and straight-out-the-oven treats the city has to offer. 

Don’t know where to start? No problem — check out a few of our favorite holiday hotspots below. But make no mistake, the list below is just a starting place; this season, make exploring New York’s sweet shops a part of your holiday celebration.

Milk Bar

This top-notch shop has been an inarguable star of New York’s bakery scene since 2008. If you haven’t visited yet, you are certainly missing out. As the shop itself explains, “We’re not big on feeding the hype beast. But we’re super into feeding our flavorful treats to those who crave the unexpected.”

So, what’s “unexpected” at the Milk Bar this holiday season? Try their Peppermint Bark Cake. It features three layers of rich dark chocolate cake infused with peppermint, as well as creamy white chocolate and peppermint frosting, and fudge. The whole cake is topped liberally with crunchy cocoa crumbs and crushed peppermint pieces, offering the perfect meld of holiday crunch and smooth chocolate. Want to win your friends’ holiday party? Bring this cake. 

The Peppermint Bark Cake comes in at $50 for a 6-inch round and can serve eight to twelve people.

Dominique Ansel Bakery

Dominique Ansel Bakery has specialized in providing delightful culinary surprises since November of 2011 — and this holiday season, its treats are as creative as they are delicious. When you drop by, order a blooming hot chocolate! Not only does this drink deliver a delicious dose of rich chocolate, but it also provides an Instagrammable experience. When you order it, your barista will give you a marshmallow bud along with your mug. Drop the bud into the hot chocolate, and you’ll instantly see it blossom into an expansive flower — and reveal a delicious chocolate truffle at its center. 

Ovenly

Who doesn’t love Ovenly? This bakery is a women-led business that prides itself on its welcoming culture and diverse employee base. Its driving purpose isn’t just to create (really) incredible sweets but to also be a source of positive change for New York City. Honestly, how better to embrace the holiday spirit of kindness than to shop at a place that prioritizes creating positivity with every cake? 

This season, cookies are the name of the game at Ovenly. Their Snowflake molasses cookies deliver the perfect dose of sweet and spicy charm and are beautifully decorated with icing lattices. These holiday treats will be available in all bakeshops starting December 1st, but don’t worry — if you want to share the joy with a friend beyond New York’s borders, Ovenly will ship orders nationwide! Who could complain about a gift like that?

Four & Twenty Blackbirds

Some days, there’s nothing quite as soothing as a good, old-fashioned pie shop. When sister pie-makers Melissa and Emily Elsen founded Four & Twenty Blackbirds in 2009, they did so because they wanted to create a place that embodied the welcoming spirit of a neighborhood shop. You should come for the pies and stay for the experience — sit back and enjoy a slice with a hot cup of coffee. 

This season, Four & Twenty Blackbirds is offering a broad selection of pies. Our favorite, however, is the chocolate chess. It features a smooth, creamy chocolate filling and a perfectly-golden and buttery crust. Make a note — orders must be placed by noon for next day pickup. Orders placed after noon will be available in two days. 

The Chocolate Chess pie can be purchased for $42. 

Want more holiday tips? Check out our blog on the best hot chocolates in NYC!

You Don’t Want to Miss These Autumn Food & Wine Festivals in NYC

You Don’t Want to Miss These Autumn Food & Wine Festivals in NYC

Fall is on its way — which means that it’s time to break out the sweaters and scarves, get out the tasting glass, and prepare to experience some of the best food and wine festivals New York City has to offer. Don’t let your fall fly by without checking out one (or all!) of the city’s top-notch culinary experiences. Want to know what delicious extravaganzas are on your horizon? Check out the events listed below!

NYC Autumn Wine & Food Festival

When: October 10-13, 2019

Where: Locations vary per event

Price: $$-$$$

If you take food and fun seriously, this might be the festival for you. In its eleventh year, the Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF) offers food enthusiasts a chance to take part in a four-day extravaganza that explores the very best culinary experiences the city has to offer. It is the largest annual food festival in NYC, encompassing 500 chefs, over 200 sponsors and partners, and more than 50,000 attendees. The festival’s chefs pose a particular draw for attendees, as the event attracts some of the world’s most renowned chefs, culinary stars, and lifestyle experts. NYCWFF is as good for New York’s underserved communities as it is for the palate; since its establishment in 2008, the event has raised over $12.5 million for the Food Bank For New York City and No Kid Hungry.

If you choose to attend, prepare for a packed calendar — more than 80 events are scheduled to take place, including tastings, dinners with famous chefs, late-night parties, and culinary seminars. Tickets for specific events and days can be purchased online. NYCWFF also offers packages for weekend enjoyment and family-friendly ticket bundles. Note: attendance tends to be pricey, although the festival does offer some under-$100 deals.  

Brooklyn Crush Wine & Artisanal Food Festival: Fall Edition 

When: November 9, 1 PM – 10 PM

Where: Industry City, bldg. 2 The Landing; 220 36th Street

Price: $$

Experience classy foodie culture at its best at the Brooklyn Crush Wine & Artisanal Food Festival. Dubbed by Thrillist as one of the events “you absolutely have to do in NYC,” this fall food celebration offers festival-goers an expansive spread of wines, ciders, and hors d’oeuvres. Tables featuring top-tier light fare will be arranged throughout the Industrial City venue, allowing wine tasters to punctuate their sips with delicious craft cheeses, savory charcuteries, delicious international foods, and sweets. Upon admission, visitors will be given a custom-etched crystal tasting glass that they can use for sampling beverages during the event — and then take home as a souvenir! 

All vendors will be providing samples, and many will offer full-size bottles and cases for sale. Some food vendors will also be selling their products — so if you like something, you may be able to buy extra to share (or keep) at home!

General admission is $55 plus fees — although visitors should note that tickets are separated between two scheduling blocks. Attendees can sign up to explore the festival from either 2–5 PM or 7–10 PM. Early access tickets cost $120 and allow visitors an extra hour of attendance. All attendees must be 21 or older to participate in the event. 

OctFest: An International Beer, Music, and Food Festival

When: October 19, 3 PM – 11 PM

Where: Knockdown Center

Cost: $$

Want the best of New York’s music and food — in one place? Check out OctFest! A collaboration between the entertainment magazine Pitchfork and the forerunning beer culture website October, this festival merges all of the best parts of concert-going and beer tasting into a single extravaganza. This event will host two music stages and a spread of beer tasting opportunities that span over 50 breweries from across six continents. Entertainment for the event includes but is not limited to performances by Mogwai, Dungen, Duster, and Control Top. 

General admission will guarantee visitors a full 18 ounces of beer samples — however, attendees can purchase more samples or full-size servings if they prefer. Beer sampling hours will run from 3 PM to 8 PM. Buy early! Tickets bought online beforehand are $45 plus fees, while day-of-show tickets are $50 plus fees.

Harlem Harvest Festival

When: October 7, 11 AM – 4 PM

Where: St. Nicholas Avenue, between 117th and 118th Street

Price: $

Support local business — and enjoy good food and great entertainment while you’re at it! The Harlem Harvest Festival brings the country into the heart of Harlem by featuring food and lifestyle vendors from across the borough. Want to know who makes the best pies, cakes, cookies, and brownies in the neighborhood? The Festival will host a harvest bake-off to settle the matter once and for all — or, at least, until next year’s competition.

 

When you attend, bring your family! The festival’s Kid Zone offers kid-friendly programming such as a pumpkin art station, face painting, a Children’s Baking Corner with Legendary Master Baker, Mr. Lee, and a gardening activity hosted by Harlem Grown. Other entertainment offerings will include live performances from DJ Stormin’ Norman/Sundae Sermon, DJ Smithy Boy, La Orquesta Majica Latina, and others. 

This festival is free to attend — all you have to do is register! 

Want more fall fun? Check out our blog on Spooky Halloween Events in NYC!

The 7 Best NYC Outdoor Brunches to Enjoy in Spring & Summer

The 7 Best NYC Outdoor Brunches to Enjoy in Spring & Summer

What’s better than a delicious mid-morning brunch in New York City? That’s easy — a mid-morning brunch that can be enjoyed during the peak of Spring! Below, we list a few of our must-go brunch places. These top-notch restaurants span the cuisine gamut, but they have one common characteristic — they all offer an outdoors dining experience.

Believe us, brunch doesn’t get much better than this. Try out one (or all) of these fantastic restaurants this spring!

Claro

Brooklyn

With its casual atmosphere and morning-patio ambiance, Claro pairs the comfortable welcome of a friend’s backyard with the culinary expertise of a high-tier restaurant. All of Claro’s cheese and sausages are crafted in-house, and it’s not rare to see a chef grilling away on the back patio. Bring a friend or three; this restaurant sports a counter bar, tables and enough green space to make even a fast-paced New York morning feel relaxed. Best of all? Claro takes reservations.  

Price Point: $$

Menu Highlights: Offerings change daily, but we recommend the huevos oaxaqueños and mezcal-based cocktails!

Gottino Enoteca Salumeria

West Village

Who says that a wine bar can’t pull off brunch? Gottino adds a delicious Italian flair to its midmorning meal, crafting a menu that would make any jaded foodie ask for seconds, grazi. Best of all, springtime visitors can enjoy a meal at one of the restaurant’s outdoor tables. With a charming wooden fence, soft hanging lights, and delicate greenery, Gottino’s outdoor ambiance isn’t one to miss.

Price Point: $$

Menu Highlights: We recommend Gottino’s Uova al Tegame — sunny-side eggs with pancetta and sage. Keep a lookout for daily specials, too!

Llama Inn

Williamsburg

Sure, you might have tried Peruvian food — but if you haven’t experienced Llama Inn’s brunch, you’re sorely missing out. This charming restaurant is upscale and fun, with a beautiful rooftop patio that any springtime diner will love. The outdoor space’s sharp modern aesthetic is softened into quirky charm by colorful throw pillows and cozy seating.

Price Point: $$$

Menu Highlights: Set aside the pancakes for once. Why not try the tacu tacu with adobo sauce, pork sausage, fried egg, and avocado?

Esme

Greenpoint

Esme’s outdoor patio is a delight; a plethora of well-maintained plants bring life and peaceful ambiance to the space, counterbalancing the bustle of the city outside. Cloth drapes stretch overhead, allowing for both natural sunlight and airflow while still keeping harsh sunlight off of diners. Long tables and intimate two-person rounds allow parties large and small alike to enjoy their creative takes on classic brunch plates. Be warned, though — Esme’s brunch is only on weekends. The good news? They take reservations.

Price Point: $$

Menu Highlights: You’ve never had French toast quite like this. Try Esme’s Savory Parmesan French Toast with tomato-braised kale and slow-poached eggs!

Hudson Clearwater

West Village

Enjoy the best of American brunch in Hudson Clearwater’s garden patio. This space uses brick, wrought iron, and climbing ivy to create a tucked-away aesthetic that is equal parts charming and quiet. Two-person wrought-iron tables populate the space and contribute to the patio’s intimate ambiance. It’s a great spot for a comfortable brunch, but you may not want to invite more than a few friends if you care to eat outside. Keep in mind; brunch is only available on weekends from 9 AM to 3 PM.

Price Point: $$

Menu Highlights: Enjoy some southern charm on a New York morning! Order Hudson Clearwater’s Southern eggs benedict — poached eggs with house-cured ham, sauteed spinach, jalapeno hollandaise, and a biscuit.

Sunday in Brooklyn

Williamsburg

Want to enjoy mid-morning brunch on a tucked-away rooftop? Look no further — you can while away a pleasant Sunday in Brooklyn…at Sunday in Brooklyn. This delightful restaurant may not be the place for large parties to gather, but it’s a fantastic spot for an outdoor brunch with friends or a midmorning date. Be warned — the restaurant can get crowded from time to time, but the food and ambiance is well-worth the wait.

Price Point: $$$

Menu Highlights: You may have had pancakes — but have you had Sunday’s malted pancakes with hazelnut maple praline and brown butter?

Narcissa

East Village

Let’s bring a little more lunch into brunch, shall we? Narcissa offers some fantastic American plates for those who want a little less breakfast in their late morning meals, along with several brunch-dedicated cocktails. The restaurant also maintains an enormous patio spaced with charming wood furniture. Well-placed trees and plants create a garden-like outdoors ambiance, while decorative hanging lights and paper ornaments add a delightful flair to the space.

Price Point: $$

Menu Highlights: Bring the bacon to brunch; the Steakhouse Burger piles bacon, shropshire blue, spinach, jalapeno, and garlic mayo high on the plate.

All of these spots are well-worth a visit. Check out our blog if you want more neat tips on how to snag a reservation at some of the most exclusive restaurants in NYC or find the coolest comedy clubs in the city!

The Most Instagrammable Dessert Spots in NYC

The Most Instagrammable Dessert Spots in NYC

 

If there’s one thing about New Yorkers, we love to stay connected, whether that’s by subway or through the internet. Plenty of dessert spots have taken notice of this, and offer up some incredible fare that seems custom made to be shared online with friends, family, and followers. These are a few NYC locales where you’ll find some of the most picturesque sweet treats anywhere.

 

Serendipity 3

Perhaps the granddaddy of all instagrammable desserts, the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate at this Upper East Side cafe is a New York icon. A favorite haunt of Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, and a pre-fame Andy Warhol, this spot is a classic eatery with timeless treats to satisfy even the pickiest social butterfly. While Serendipity is also known for their headline-grabbing offerings like the $1,000 Golden Opulence Sundae, the classic “Frrrozen” delight is how they’ve made their name. Get yourself a reservation and prepare to wait, because a treat this good is always worth it.

 

Brooklyn Farmacy

The treats aren’t the only thing that’s Insta-worthy at this refurbished apothecary in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens neighborhood. The building carries tons of old-fashioned charm with a delicious blend of classic treats and a retro aesthetic. Try a classic Brooklyn chocolate egg cream or the pineapple upside-down cake, which comes served on a bed of ice cream and fresh pineapples! But take your pic quickly, you’ll want to dig in ASAP.

 

Dominique Ansel

Never again will New Yorkers have to choose between fancy cocktails and flashy desserts. At this trailblazing SoHo sweets spot–creators of the Cronut–their latest cutting-edge confection combines the best of both worlds with their Milk and Cookie Shot. No need for dunking with this one: drink your milk right out of a shot glass made from a chocolate cookie! Break off a chunk and dip, or take a bite right out of the side, it’s completely up to you. Just make sure to share those social media pics first!

 

Holey Cream

Combining two favorites is a winner when is comes to dessert treats, but the Ice Cream Donut Sandwich from this Midtown ice cream shop may well be the peak of the form. Pick from a seemingly endless variety of the circular baked treat to serve as your bread, with two scoops of ice cream sandwiched between them. Throw in some toppings and you’ve got a treat that looks just as good as it tastes. Bring your appetite along with your sweet tooth here, as this unique treat is more than a mouthful.

 

ABC Kitchen

Acclaimed chef Jean-Georges has built a worldwide network of fine dining establishments from Tokyo to Sao Paulo, but New York is home to what may well be his finest creation. This Gramercy restaurant’s ever-changing menu contains lots of seasonal organic favorites, but dessert is where they truly shine: namely, their kettle corn sundae, with caramel-drenched popcorn and peanuts sprinkled all over a delectable ice cream sundae with whipped cream and hot fudge. The toppings put a photo-worthy sheen on this after-dinner classic, since no good dessert should ever be forgotten!

NYC’s Food Hall Frenzy

NYC’s Food Hall Frenzy

NYC is already a foodie paradise-with more restaurants than you could visit in a lifetime-but who’s to say you can have too much of a good thing? More and more developers across the five boroughs are opening food halls, dedicated spaces featuring a variety of food options under one roof. These are 3 of our favorites!

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Dekalb Market Hall – Downtown Brooklyn

Sited in the basement of the remodeled Albee Square Mall, CityPoint features a new Target, Century 21, and Alamo Drafthouse movie theater, but the biggest attraction sits in the basement. This bustling hall holds 40 vendors representing the spectrum of Brooklyn eats, from tacos to pierogis and everything in between. Perhaps the most enticing option are the mile-high pastrami sandwiches from Katz’ Deli-available outside of the Houston St. original for the first time ever.

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Hudson Eats – Battery Park City

Underneath the picturesque Winter Garden Atrium in Battery Park City’s Financial Center, Hudson Eats boasts perhaps the city’s most massive food hall, with big names suitable for the enormous space. Mighty Quinn’s BBW, Dos Toros Taqueria, and Blue Ribbon Sushi are just a selection of the top-quality fare to be found in the shadow of the Freedom Tower, located just across West Street.

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Shops at Queens Crossing – Flushing

Arising from a former mall food court, the Shops at Queens Crossing feature a major upgrade from the fast food of yesterday. Appropriately enough for the majority Asian neighborhood, Flushing’s brand new food hall features foodie-grade bubble tea, Hawaiian poke, Japanese sushi, Chinese dim sum, Thai ice cream, and even some French and British options. For New York’s most diverse borough, it’s only right that an international flavor is in the offering.

 

Want more NYC food talk? Check out our Food Enclaves series: with visits to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Jackson Heights, Queens, and Arthur Avenue in The Bronx.