Coffee & Treats in New York City

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Frrrozen Hot Chocolate. It seems like a contradiction at first, something that defies the laws of beverage physics. Yet it's that very drink that has long defined Serendipity 3, an Upper East Side dessert destination since 1954. In a business profile for New York magazine, Hal Rubenstein summed up his thoughts on the signature treat?"It's like riding the Cyclone and giving a hickey: You have to do it at least once in your life."

That frozen beverage, or "frrrozen" beverage as it's fittingly called here, complements a full lineup of desserts: apple pie, fresh fruit sundaes, and ice cream crepes just to name a few. Serendipity 3 even holds the Guinness World Record for the world's most expensive dessert. Their Golden Opulence Sundae covers rich Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream in 23-karat edible gold leaf and other rich and exotic ingredients. The dessert, which must be ordered 48 hours in advance, comes with a bill for $1,000.

The shop's setting echoes its whimsical menu. Stained glass Tiffany lampshades and funky decor?like a giant skeleton key that hangs from the ceiling?offset the whitewashed walls of a Manhattan townhouse. The location has seen its fair share of famous faces over the years, including President Bill Clinton, and regulars have passed decades enjoying country meatloaf and hamburgers topped with chili. Of course, Serendipity 3's desserts remain the star, and the shop sells many items for customers to take home, including hot chocolate mix and hot fudge sauce.

225 E 60th St
New York,
NY
US

While working long hours as an investment banker, Dawn Cameron often found herself dreaming of tea?of the brightness of the mint, the calmness of the chamomile, and the crispness of the matcha green. Her world was a portrait of the high-paced New York work environment, thrumming with caffeinated coffee junkies, screaming phones, and lost carrier pigeons. Seeking respite and finding none readily available, Dawn created her own: Sanctuary T.

Surrounded by the cork-paneled walls of the tranquil, sunlit dining room, her guests perch on woven chairs and wooden stools, sipping more than 70 available varieties of tea. To ensure fresh flavors, tea gurus bag each serving by hand. When explaining this process to reporters from Metromix, Dawn explained, "there's a fullness to the [teas'] flavor. When machines process the teabag, you lose that character."

Deep in the kitchen, chefs whip up innovative dishes that pair well with well-steeped beverages including tea-infused specialty cocktails lauded by reporters from the New York Post. Behind the bar, mixologists preside over extensive beer and wine lists that earned Sanctuary T designation as a Top Beer and Wine Bar from the raconteurs at Shecky's Nightlife. Shecky's writers also heaped praise on the bar's specialty cocktails, which they referred to approvingly as both "holistic" and "trippy".

337B W Broadway
New York,
NY
US

Sullivan St. Bakery

Jim Lahey may have set out to shape stone and clay, but—to the delight of just about everybody else—dough was the medium he was destined to mold. While studying sculpture in Italy, Lahey became invested in the art of Italian bread baking, and brought that passion and a hand-cultivated wild yeast back to the kitchens of New York. There, he developed an innovative no-kneading technique of bread making that spawned a revolution in artisanal breads, thanks to a recipe spotlighted by ¬¬New York Times food critic Mark Bittman. Since then, critics from sources as diverse as Bon Appétit and the Martha Stewart Show have praised him between bites of his sought-after loaves.

At Sullivan St. Bakery, the wild alchemy of Jim’s oven-teasing ways is on full display. The filone, a dark loaf prepared with mature fermentation and coated with wheat bran, gives off nutty and sour flavors, while the pane pugliese's lingering caramel aftertaste could convince a swarm of bees to surrender their hive so that their honey could broach its soft interior webbing. Panini and pizza are also available, gracing the same breads that made Jim famous, as well as signature bomboloni Italian doughnuts, with cores of vanilla bean custard or seasonal fruit fillings bursting through sugar-powdered shells.

533 West 47th Street
New York,
NY
US

Behind the petite storefront of Milk & Cookies Bakery, baking gurus churn out all manner of cookies and baked goods from fine ingredients such as European-style butter, Valrhona cocoa, and organic milk from Ronnybrook Farm. As the aroma of fresh-baked pastries drifts out onto the street, patrons consider a case of peanut-butter cookies, snickerdoodles, and ice-cream sandwiches trapping creamy gelato. To keep their culinary skills sharp, the chefs constantly craft new confections such as the recent Bacon Smack cookie, which is studded with candied bacon and toffee and laced with maple syrup. “Once you’ve sampled the delectably lethal graham-cracker, dark-chocolate, and toffee-chip magic bars, each enriched with sweetened condensed milk and dusted with coconut,” says New York magazine, “any thoughts of diets will likely be relegated to your dreams.” In addition to their standard tempting confections, the bakers craft cakes and cookies with custom designs for parties and custom shapes for when you’re trying to pretend the mouth hole on your costume isn’t all wrong.

19 Commerce St
New York,
NY
US

For Regina McRae, some of her fondest memories were days spent baking alongside her grandmother. So when she grew up, she knew there was only one thing she wanted to do: share her love of baking with others at her own bakeshop. And for the last 18 years she's been doing just that at her shop, Grandma's Secrets. There, she bakes up gooey brownies, her Grandmother's signature sweet potato pies, and custom cakes. She uses her grandmother's original recipes, so every cake is baked without preservatives or additives.

For her signature cakes, she crafts a variety of flavors, including red velvet, carrot, and sweet potato. And with certain flavors, she can even accommodates dietary restrictions with gluten-free, vegetarian, and diabetic-friendly recipes. For those looking to learn how to make their desserts both sweet and stylish, she offers classes that cover the basics of baking. She also shares her secrets for her more difficult techniques in advanced classes, which cover topics such as using fondant to make scenes, shaping cakes for children, and hiding the fact that there were two cakes here originally.

562 West 174th Street
New York,
NY
US

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.

179 E 86th St
New York,
NY
US

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