The peanut-butter slathered sandwiches at the Peanut Butter Blues Cafe happily swim in a sea of thirst quenchers and open-mic sound waves. Nutty connoisseurs can expand their palates with sandwiches including the Junglicious, which partners peanut butter with honey, cinnamon, and fresh bananas ($5), or the Guitar Hero, a concoction of peanut butter, wild honey, and blackberry jam ($5). The café also outputs heftier sandwiches, such as the Smoked Salmon BLT ($9) and the Hungry Man From Siberia, comprised of meat dumplings, mushrooms, sour cream, and dill ($10). For liquid fuel, open-mic enthusiasts can snag steamy espressos ($2), chilled orange-chocolate shakes ($5), or the too-cool-for-simple PB Blues house shake, which unites bananas, peanut butter, chocolate, and walnuts ($6).
It's always flattering when your dessert is the party's favorite. Carousel Cakes—and its bite-size offshoot, Cupcakes by Carousel—knows this feeling well. The bakeries' creative confections have received commendations from every corner of the media, from Time Out New York and InStyle to The View and, perhaps most notably, Oprah, who featured their red-velvet cake in O Magazine and named their blue-velvet cake one of Oprah's Favorite Things in 2012. "Gayle fell hard for this blue velvet cake with cream cheese icing and sugar snowflakes," the media icon gushed. "Just add coffee, milk, or a flute of champagne." The treats also sweeten meals at more than 1000 restaurants, including Zabar's and the American Museum of Natural History in New York and Aldo & Gianni Ristorante and Sear Restaurant in Closter, New Jersey.
As a sister company to the family bakery that Martin Lefkowitz opened in 1965, Cupcakes by Carousel specializes in handheld versions of the treats that won all this acclaim. Besides a mini adaptation of the famous red-velvet cake, the staff creates confections such as the Curious George—a vanilla cake filled with banana custard and topped with peanut butter buttercream frosting and chocolate ganache—and its version of Hostess’s Pink Snowball. All the shop's cakes and pies are certified kosher, and staff can even fill up glasses with swirls of their famous frostings and toppings for clients who like their cupcakes sans cake. Cupcakes by Carousel also lends its hand in local communities. Recently, the Englewood shop raised money for girls' education in developing nations through the nonprofit organization She's The First.
Rudy’s Pastry Shop whips up tongue-tingling baked treats in a variety of incarnations including cakes, pies, and tarts. Nosh on an assortment of freshly baked, sugary nibbles such as a black-forest or red-velvet cupcake ($1.75–$2.50). Other handheld flavor devices include danishes and tarts—imbued with the creamy fillings of raspberry or nutella ($2.50 each). A delectable pie ($8.25+) is sure to provide sweet satisfaction for an entire geometry class, or hours of edible enjoyment for one.
Wide World of Bagels uses traditional bagel-making techniques that have been perfected and practiced by passionate owners Elliot and Scott since 1999. Choose from plain, sesame, poppy, onion, cinnamon raisin, pumpernickel, egg, rye, blueberry, garlic, whole wheat, eight-grain, and the everything bagel, which is a welcome alternative to other bagel shops' nothing bagels, created by kettle-boiling air and pipedreams. Hand-select a dozen stalwart bageley companions to compliment a tub of creamy store-made schmear and finally complete the circular union of flavor and nutriment. Stop by Wide World of Bagels and gaze through the cavernous aperture of a fresh-baked bagel to reveal the light at the end of the chewy tunnel.
Cupcakes bring out the child in people, so who better to make those treats than a child? Patrick DeBiase, the owner of Stud Muffins Cupcakes, is just 13 years old. He first started baking at the age of four with the help of his grandmother, who is a classically educated pastry chef. With her help, he creates Stud Muffins’ variety of cookies and cupcakes, which are delivered to doorsteps when customers order them through his online shop or through wishing really hard. In the future, Patrick has big plans to attend culinary school and open a storefront for his business, but for now, he's content serving the community—his business donates 50 cents to the Tourettes Syndrome Association for every dozen cupcakes sold.