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.
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.
When chef and owner of ChikaLicious Chika Tilman was brainstorming ideas for her restaurant concept, she realized smaller portions in the form of a flight of desserts allowed customers to have their cake and eat another couple petit fours too. Each of the menu’s prix frixe meals includes a palate-exciting amuse, a choice from the day’s selection of rotating desserts, and a range of petit fours artfully presented on chic white plates. Guests can choose to add on wine pairings or simply supplement sweets with more sweets should their curiosity not be sated. Chef Tillman’s Japanese heritage and French culinary education is evident in creations such as the mocha and hazelnut trifle with white coffee ice cream and honey parfaits in a five-citrus gazpacho with a pistachio lace tuile. The eatery only holds twenty people, affording all customers a view of the chefs and sommeliers working their magic in the open kitchen.
Cradled by weathered brick walls and naturally lit by floor-to-ceiling windows, 88 Orchard slings a new selection of locally produced coffees, teas, and baked goods each week. After 5 p.m., the bistro goes undercover by donning a cape of fine wines and a mask of artisanal cheeses to accompany small plates and charcuterie in public without provoking gossip from more traditional bistros. Guests enter beneath a round turret into a corner storefront filled with classic New York charm, from its pressed-tin ceilings to its rough-hewn wooden tables. Free local delivery whisks pastries from Ceci Cela and sandwiches set on crusts from Balthazar Bakery and Amy's Bread throughout the neighborhood. On Tuesday night, an open mic beckons acoustic troubadours to sing for their suppers, though it forbids them to whine for their wine.
The Vagabond Cafe, praised by the Village Voice for “top-notch” coffee drinks and ambiance, invites visitors to sink into plush armchairs or perch on iron-backed chairs as they sip hot beverages and nosh on crêpes. Dammann tea and illy coffee let off steam beside the eatery’s exposed brick and sage-green walls, and more than a dozen latte flavors makes taste buds choose between chocolate-chip cookie dough or tiramisu, a decision as difficult as choosing between light-up sneakers and singing roller blades. Lunchers surf free WiFi while sinking teeth into paninis piled with turkey and chicken and seasoned with honey mustard and horseradish, and crêpes emanate savory flavors with ingredients such as roasted red peppers or sweet notes of Nutella and powdered thank-you notes. On Wednesday, open-mic nights give voice to audience talent, and weekend evenings send local acts to the stage.
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.