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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!

4 Ice Cream Spots You Can’t Miss in NYC This Summer

4 Ice Cream Spots You Can’t Miss in NYC This Summer

Does anything symbolize summer fun quite as much as ice cream on a hot day? If you’re looking for a top-notch treat, check out one — or all, no judgement! — of these fan-favorite ice cream parlors in New York City. 

Morgenstern’s 

Location: 88 W Houston Street NY NY 10012
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 12PM-11PM // Friday-Saturday: 12PM-12AM

Founded in 2014 by self-made restauranteur Nicholas Morganstern, Morganstern’s offers a classic ice cream experience. The ice cream parlor prides itself on serving texture-driven, small-batch ice creams that prioritize superb flavors and taste. Along with traditional standbys like chocolate chip cookie dough, cookies n’ cream, and mint chip, parlor favorites also include more unusual flavors such as green tea pistachio, salt and pepper pinenut, and burnt sage. The main star of the show is the ice cream, but don’t overlook Morgenstern’s other offerings! The parlor also serves pies, cakes, floats, and cocktails. 

La Newyorkina

Location: 240 Sullivan Street, New York, NY, 10012
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11AM-9PM // Friday-Saturday 11AM-10PM

When Mexico-born Fany Gerson opened La Newyorkina in 2010, she had a single goal: to introduce New Yorkers to the sweet flavors of her childhood. Her store, La Newyorkina, serves a variety of Mexican sweet treats. Her most popular offering — and the one that first promoted Gerson’s shop to fame — are paletas; frozen treats that can be enjoyed on-the-go. These delights come in a variety of flavors — from creamy and fruity to sweet and spicy. Popular options include Mango Chile, Pineapple Jalapeno, Mango Chamoy, and Passionfruit. All are made by hand in small batches using all-natural ingredients. Don’t just stick with the paletas, though — La Newyorkina also offers delicious chamoyadas, cookies, pan dulce, and cakes. 

Republic of Booza

Location: 76 N. 4th Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11249
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 12PM-11PM // Friday-Saturday 12PM-12AM

Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of booza before — you won’t find it in stores. Booza, the precursor to our modern-day ice cream, was initially developed around 500 years ago in the Levant region of the Eastern Mediterranean. It’s a dense, smooth, and flavor-packed frozen dessert that sports a more stretchy consistency from what you might expect from ice cream. This change in texture stems from both its unique production process and two unusual ingredients: Sahlab (ground orchid root) and mastic (a resin). Traditionally, booza only came in a “candied cream” flavor; however, New York City’s Republic of Booza prides itself on bringing the dish into the modern era — and giving it a few tasty twists, of course. Flavors currently offered include chocolate, strawberry, horchata de chufa, French lavender, and sour cherry mahlab. 

OddFellows

Location: 175 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, 11249
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 12PM-10PM // Friday-Saturday 12PM-11PM

Want some quirkiness in your ice cream cone? Oddfellows has you covered. The now-four-location parlor prides itself on making the unusual delicious. The idea for the shop first came about when one of the co-founders, Mohan Kumar was attempting to find an ice cream flavor that would suit his wife Holiday’s eclectic pregnancy cravings. During that time, one of Kumar’s longtime friends and bar owner, Sam Mason, made Holiday a batch of homemade pretzel ice cream. She loved it — and promptly suggested they open an ice cream parlor. The Kumar’s twins were born 2012, and the first OddFellows Ice Cream parlor opened a year later. 

Today, Oddfellow’s flavor offerings range from delightfully classic to intriguingly original; their menu features highlights like burnt marshmallow, Thai iced tea, and toasted sesame Nutella along with standbys such as chocolate chunk. 

Want a few more insights on which dessert spots in NYC are top-notch? Check out our blog on The Most Instagrammable Dessert Spots in NYC!

 

History of Summertime Festivals in NYC

History of Summertime Festivals in NYC

New York City is a veritable hotspot for arts and culture in the summertime. No matter your artistic passions, at least one of the countless, long-running cultural organizations in the city will have something to appeal to your interests. Add one (or all) of the below festivals to your calendar and share in the excitement! Who knows — some of the best performers in the country may be just a short walk from your doorstep.

Celebrate Brooklyn!

First launched in the summer of 1979 by Brooklyn residents, Celebrate Brooklyn! is one of New York City’s longest-running outdoors performing arts festivals. This multi-day summer concert series highlights the best, brightest, and most promising Brooklynite musicians of the year. Since its founding, the festival has showcased over 2,000 artists, many of whom used the appearance as a springboard towards greater success. The festival spotlights internationally-celebrated and emerging artists from all musical genres, including but not limited to classical, jazz, pop, alt, hip-hop and regional American. This year’s lineup features notable performers such as Patti LaBelle, Courtney Barnett, Shareef Keyes & the Groove, and Iron & Wine. Attendees should note that while the festival itself is and has always been free, certain performances are charity benefits and have an associated cost.

Celebrate Brooklyn! starts Tuesday, June 4.

Shakespeare in the Park

Shakespeare in the Park wasn’t always such a summertime staple in Central Park. When director-producer Joseph Staff initially launched the program, he did so with the not-so-hidden disapproval of the then-parks commissioner, Robert Moses. Moses didn’t have a problem with theatre productions in the park per se, but he was firmly against the lawn erosion that audience members were beginning to cause on the grass in front of Turtle Pond. He demanded that Papp charge a fee to cover the cost of sod and lawn care — but Papp refused to charge for the performances, stubbornly maintaining that the theatre should be free to any who cared to see it. A long legal battle ensued between the two parties and ultimately ended in Papp’s favor. Surprisingly, the clash reportedly left Moses with a deep respect for Papp and led the commissioner to request the funds the director needed to build a proper theater in the park.

Since then, Shakespeare in the Park has developed into one of New York City’s most beloved summertime arts offerings. It has entertained over five million people throughout its run, and in past years even featured standout actors like Meryl Streep, James Earl Jones, and Al Pacino.

Interested? You can find the dates for 2019’s productions below. Remember — while entry is free, you’ll need to claim tickets beforehand to reserve a seat!

Much Ado About Nothing: May 21 – June 23

Coriolanus: July 16 – August 11

Hercules: August 21 – September 8

Mostly Mozart

Founded by Jay K. Hoffman, William W. Lockwood Jr., Schuyler G. Chapin, and George F. Schutz in August of 1966, the Mostly Mozart festival was initially intended to provide freelance classical musicians with work opportunities during the summer off-season. Then and now, the event’s in-house orchestra pulls its members from notable classical ensembles across the country; its performers hail from high-profile orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and more.

The focus of Mostly Mozart has expanded since its early years. While the festival primarily offers concerts that feature its in-house orchestra, it also features solo classical artists, dance pieces, panel discussions, and film screenings. Most events occur at the David Geffen Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, but other venues include and are not limited to Rose Theater, Merkin Concert Hall, the Walter Reade Theater, and the David Rubenstein Atrium.

In 2019, the Mostly Mozart festival will run from July 10th through August 10th; tickets for various events available for purchase online.

Midsummer Night Swing

Midsummer Night Swing is a three-week extravaganza of dance, music, and culture. Held at Damrosch Park at the Lincoln Center, this long-running annual event offers new and experienced dancers alike the chance to learn how to swing, disco, salsa, ballroom step, and more. Each night follows a similar pattern: attendees arrive in the early evening for a formal lesson on the dance featured that night, and then spend the next few hours dancing the night away. The fun doesn’t always stop with formal steps, either; in recent years, organizers have even begun handing out wireless headsets and facilitating post-dance silent discos on certain nights!

This year, dancers can enjoy live music from celebrated musicians such as Bobby Valentin, Eyal Vilner Big Band, Curles Turner & Uptown Swing, and Bria Skonberg, among others. This is a ticketed event; attendees can buy four dance passes for $60, six dance passes for $84, a season pass for $170, or advance tickets for select evenings at $18 apiece.

Midsummer Night Swing will run from Tuesday, June 25 until Saturday, July 13th.


Want more artsy events on your calendar? Check out our blog post on the Coolest Pop-Up Museums in NYC!

Flowers in NYC: The Best Places to See the City in Bloom

Flowers in NYC: The Best Places to See the City in Bloom

New York City is known for its bustle, its glam, its excitement, and…its flowers? That’s right — in springtime, our concrete jungle becomes a hotspot for garden enthusiasts. Is one of the city’s best bloom-spotting attractions in your backyard? Read on to find out!

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

If you’ve never been to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in spring, you’re missing out. As the weather warms, the garden boasts no less than 17 varieties of blooming cherry blossoms. Those blooms aren’t the only draw; visitors can find and enjoy the sights and smells of exotic and domestic flowers alike in the garden’s plant collections and specialty gardens. If you’re looking for a dash of culture with your springtime flowers, check out the Steinhardt Conservatory! This horticultural center encompasses the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum, an aquatic plant house, an art gallery, and three climate-themed plant pavilions.

Central Park Conservatory

If you’re a fan of European formal gardens, the Central Park Conservatory is a must-see. This quiet, six-acre corner of the Park boasts three sections adhering to the English, French, and Italian styles of formal gardening, respectively. It’s a peaceful haven for flower enthusiasts who want to enjoy a meditative moment of admiration. Wilder blooms can also be spotted along Central Park’s less-formal walking trails and green spaces.

Queens Botanical Garden

What’s spring without a little fun? New flowers pop up and bloom near-daily in this 39-acre plot, making the Queens Botanical Garden a prime weekend destination for nature-loving families. The garden hosts several events to celebrate new blooms throughout the season, including its family-centric Arbor Day Festival. This high-energy event offers kids the chance to do arts and crafts, visit a petting zoo, play in a bouncy castle, and more! Adults can enjoy a quieter spring season by walking through the Queen’s Botanical Garden’s arboretum, visiting its art gallery, or exploring its rose, herb, perennial, and bee gardens.

New York Botanical Garden

Want a tech-friendly take on flower-spotting? The New York Botanical Garden has you covered. If you love azaleas, daffodils, roses, or cherry trees and don’t want to miss seeing any or all in peak blossom, check out the NYBG’s plant trackers! These trackers offer flower enthusiasts a quick glimpse of how far into bloom these springtime staples are from the comfort of their homes. Don’t cap your visit to peak season, though. NYBG hosts a series of events to highlight its plants, including an indoors orchard show!

Wave Hill

Wave Hill might be small, but its snowdrop populations are unparalleled. This 28-acre park is a quintessential New York garden spot tucked away in the Bronx; it has wildflower greens, woodland paths, and lovely vistas.

Narrows Botanical Garden

Founded in the mid-nineties by two Bay Ridge residents, the Narrows Botanical Garden is living proof that local engagement can make positivity bloom within a community. The garden is home to several tree groves, a butterfly garden, a turtle sanctuary, and flocks of birds. Interestingly, the Narrows only includes plants native to New York. Today, the park is still maintained by Bay Ridge residents. It has a delightful view of the Bay and the Statue of Liberty.

The High Line

Springtime isn’t only for delicate flowers. The Highline encompasses a collection of hardy New England perennials, shrubs, and trees. Its Lilafee Barrenwort — a tough plant with rich, spring-blooming purple flowers — is particularly beautiful this time of year. The most exciting time for the High Line, however, is its annual spring cutback. Unlike other gardens, landscapers for the High Line allow winter-dried stalks to remain in place as habitat for native wildlife. In the spring, the High Line invites hundreds of local volunteers to join their gardeners in cutting back plants by hand to allow for compost and new growth. It’s an experience that garden enthusiasts won’t want to miss!

So, what are you waiting for? Shake off that winter chill and get hopping; there’s a ton to enjoy at these NYC gardens!

Want more insights about New York’s hidden treasures? Check out our post on NYC’s Most Overlooked Landmarks!

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!