Fresh papaya juice and a New York hot dog—an unconventional pairing even by today's standards, much less the 1930s, when Papaya King founder Gus Poulos first opened up shop. Gus fell in love with papayas during a vacation to Miami, so he brought their fresh juice to New York City. When he paired the juice with frankfurters, the success that followed caught everyone by surprise. Over the decades, everyone from The Beatles to Anthony Bourdain has wandered into Papaya King. Its signature franks have also garnered ample accolades from the press, with Julia Child proclaiming them "the best hot dogs in New York" before leaving a Julia Child-shaped hole in the eatery's wall.
It's still easy to find Papaya King today. Just look for a large storefront lit up with neon green and red lights that would seem right at home on an island. Inside, cooks grill while facing customers so that they can show off the 18 toppings, which span standbys like New York onions and sauerkraut, as well as more adventurous choices of coleslaw, pastrami, mushrooms, and chili.
Dessert Club ChikaLicious has garnered a good deal of praise for its delectable desserts, including 10 cupcake flavors, which come in regular ($1.85) and premium-filled ($2.60) varieties. Regular models such as red velvet, banana, and coconut sell well, due in large part to the bakery's emphasis on fresh, quality ingredients. These ingredients, combined with owner Chika Tillman's virtuoso baking skills, come together to create moist cake and delicious frosting that’s creamy and not too sweet, such as s'mores cupcakes, which come with a toasted-marshmallow top and chocolate center for instant campfire flashbacks.
A division of David's Cookies, Annie's Euro American Bakery shops tantalize taste buds with freshly baked goods ranging from petit cakes, such as a bourbon-infused chocolate genoise, to fire-roasted apple cobblers drizzled with caramel. The chefs at Annie's Florida headquarters perfect each recipe individually, favoring natural, kosher ingredients and paying particular attention to texture.
The leaders behind Häagen-Dazs also place an emphasis on natural ingredients, sourcing produce such as fresh fruit, dutch cocoa, and vanilla beans for their ice creams, sorbets, and frozen yogurts. They use their proceeds to help preserve the sources of these ingredients through projects such as Häagen-Dazs loves Honey Bees. This particular venture protects dwindling honeybee populations so they can continue pollinating and saves the government from having to invent robot bees.
Behind a large picture window colonized by the covetous faces of passersby, the Little Pie Company’s kitchen bustles with a crew of adroit bakers tirelessly popping freshly minted confections into sparkling steel ovens. Champions of homestyle cooking since setting their first pie out to cool in 1985, staffers forge each toothsome treat from scratch using only fresh ingredients free of artificial, chemical, or secret agents. Bakers frequently switch up the menu in order to give each time of year its due, with seasonal offerings composed of calendar-appropriate fillings such as berries in the summer, pumpkins in the fall, and organic snowmen in the winter. The in-store counter beckons guests to linger and sip coffee, and on balmy days, an army of outdoor tables enables alfresco dining under the watchful gaze of the sun.
With locations in six states, 16 Handles is carving out a delicious space for itself in the self-serve frozen-yogurt world. In addition to rewarding customers’ cravings with a rotating daily selection of 16 flavors—each packed with protein, probiotics, and calcium—the healthy-dessert emporium sets itself apart from its competitors through its eco-friendly practices. 16 Handles not only arms its patrons with biodegradable cups and spoons crafted from cornstarch, but it also works with Trees for the Future, an organization that assists global communities in growing trees for agriculture, food, and animal habitat. Through their partnership, 16 Handles has planted 91,284 trees so far, one-quarter of which grow frozen yogurt instead of leaves.
A globally recognized sweet shop, Beard Papa's converts traditional desserts into decadent, fresh-baked, hand-labored lovables. Its all-natural cream puffs ($1.75 each) exhibit a complex, crispy outer choux pastry packed with mouth-melting, fluffy whip-cream flavor derived from imported vanilla beans and hours of diligent daydreaming. Available in classic cream and hybrid chocolate, strawberry, espresso, or tea flavors, Beard Papa's cream puffs pluck and pair well with any warm autumn beverage or apathetic frenemy. Outside the realm of spherical sweetness, the shop also puts out single-serving fondant au chocolate engorged with gooey Belgian chocolate ($2.25), a variety of wheel-shaped Paris Brest ($2.25), and mochi ice cream balls—a Japanese confection made up of pounded sticky rice and ice-cream filling ($1.65). Celebrate another year where the moon hasn't accidentally rear-ended the earth with the cream puffs of Beard Papa's.