Downtown Desserts

Downtown Manhattan is bustling with edgy yet trendy venues. It is no wonder then, that the area (encompassing Union Square, the East Village, the West Village, the Lower East Side, Chinatown and TriBeCa) has become popular for its eclectic mix of the hip and the unconventional: for example, where else besides St. Mark’s Place could you find outposts of the popular Pinkberry frozen yogurt chain (among many knock-off competitors) nestled comfortably next to tattoo and piercing parlors? True, you may never run out of concerts to attend, shops to browse, or restaurants to try in lower Manhattan. It may even become difficult for you to make up your mind as to where you should go because of the myriad of choices available to you.

But that’s where Inferno comes in: we give you a comprehensive guide of to the best dessert places in the city, from bakeries, to a chocolate shop, to an ice cream parlor, and even to an old-time candy store.

For the cupcake connoisseur in all of us
This relatively new East Village bakery is easy to miss. Tucked away on E. 7th Street, Butter Lane serves up freshly baked cupcakes using only the finest organic ingredients. But before you purchase a cupcake, sample one of the many frostings. If you’re in the mood for chocolate or vanilla, you’ll have to choose between French and American buttercream; the French version is lighter than the American. However, if plain old chocolate and vanilla just won’t do, try one of the homemade flavored frostings made with real fruit; blueberry is particularly tasty. The cupcakes here have a slight crunch when you bite into them, a nice contrast to the creamy frosting.

Butter Lane
123 East 7th St.
F to 2nd Ave., R/N/ W to E. 8th St., 6 to Astor Pl.
Vanilla and chocolate frosted: $2.50 each; specialty frostings $2.75 each

Having your cake and eating it, too
Anyone who has ever been to Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich Village, made famous on Sex and the City, knows that when it comes to cupcakes, it is easy to go wrong. Sarah Jessica Parker and Co. may have enjoyed the artificially sweet frosting atop overly dry cupcakes served up at Magnolia, but if you’re looking for a real treat, look no further than Sugar Sweet Sunshine, a funky, hip bakery on the Lower East Side. The cakes here are light and fluffy and the frostings are creamy without being overly sweet. So relax on one of the couches and savor each bite: after all, who can resist a cupcake named Sexy Red Velvet?

Sugar Sweet Sunshine
126 Rivington St.
F to Delancey St.
All cupcakes are $1.50 each.

Going where no ice cream’s gone before
Black sesame and ice cream may not sound like the perfect pair, yet the black sesame flavored ice cream at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is not to be missed. Neither are the other Asian-inspired flavors, such as red bean, almond cookie and green tea. Ironically, these are listed as “regular flavors,” while the more traditional ice creams, such as chocolate chip and rocky road are listed as “exotic flavors.” The tiny interior is always packed, so unfortunately, you may have to stand outside while you enjoy. However, the experience is worth it and the ice cream here is undoubtedly better (and more exciting) than that at Haagen Dasz, located right across the street; with such a strong competitor, it’s a wonder Haagen Dasz stays in business.

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
65 Bayard St.
R/N/W/Q/J/M/Z/6 to Canal St.
One scoop: $3.75

NYC meets small town America
Take a trip down memory lane and peruse the various old-school candies available for purchase at The Soda Shop, a popular hangout spot in TriBeCa. Afterwards, grab a table and try one of the many ice cream sodas. One of the best drinks on the menu is the Black Cow, a mix of root beer, vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. Also on the menu are milkshakes, malts and New York Egg Creams. You’re sure to feel nostalgic after visiting The Soda Shop, a perfect snapshot of 50s America.

The Soda Shop
125 Chambers St.
E to World Trade Center, 2 to Chambers St.