Coming from Chicago, I’ve never seen a cupcake culture quite like I’ve discovered in New York. Everyone loves them and, at least within my circle of friends, always arguing about the better cupcake place. Maybe Sex and the City and their placement of Magnolia Bakery (in the scene where Carrie is telling Miranda about her crush while indulging in their vanilla cupcake) spurred the trend, but one thing’s for sure – I ain’t complainin’.
Of course, I caught onto this, and without further ado, this is my totally biased guide to the best cupcakes in NYC (and some not-so-great ones), but feel free to share your own thoughts and tips!
SUGAR SWEET SUNSHINE, 126 Rivington St., btw Essex & Norfolk, LES
My ultimate favorite cupcake joint. Tasty, soft cupcakes with a light, sugary frosting that’s not overdone. I love the Pistachio flavored ones! Their yellow ‘Sunshine’ cupcakes and red velvet are great SSS creations too, and if banana pudding is your thing, they have some to die for. Cupcakes are $1.50 each.
BILLY’S BAKERY, 184 9th Ave., at 21st St., Chelsea
Compareable to SSS above, but the cupcakes are a tad bigger and a little more frosting if you like that! Cupcakes are $2.25 each.
CHIKALICIOUS, 204 E. 10th St., at 2nd Ave., East Village
They say they have “French presentation with Japanese tasting portions” which is basically what you get. The dessert bar is usually packed, so try stopping by the dessert cafe to just pick your cupcake up and go. Cupcakes are light and flavorful, and if you’re a coffee-lover, try their mocha cupcake with coffee frosting filling (so good!). I don’t even normally prefer caramel, but the caramel-filling is also way too good to pass up! Cupcakes are $1.60 for regular, and $2.25 with fillings.
FIRST RUNNER UP
BUTTERCUP BAKE SHOP, 141 West 72nd St., btw Columbus & Amsterdam Ave., UWS and 973 2nd Avenue, UES
Only because I think four “Must-Try’s” would put you in a permanent sugar-high situation, and these cupcakes are good but I they are super, almost too, sweet. Cupcakes are $1.95 each.
FOR THE HEALTH FREAKS
BABY CAKES, 248 Broome St., btw Orchard & Ludlow St., LES
It’s a “healthy” vegan bakery, with wheat-, gluten-, and egg-free baked goodies. Haven’t tried it myself but friends have said you sacrifice a little on taste for a guilt-free treat.
MAGNOLIA BAKERY, 401 Bleecker St., at 11th St., West Village; and 200 Columbus Ave., at 69th St., UWS
I know, I know, after that whole clip up above, you would think I actually cared for these cupcakes, but I was severely underwhelmed when I went there for the first time. I waited in line with the other SATC-junkies and was not a happy camper after taking my first bite and thinking it tasted sort of..average. Then again, I’ve only tried it once (and never again), but I still think you can skip — unless you think it sounds cool to say you ate a cupcake at Magnolia in New York City. Cupcakes start at $2.50.
INTERESTING BUT JUST OK
CRUMBS, 43 West 42nd St., btw 5th and 6th Ave., Midtown (several more locations on their website!)
These cupcakes are definitely pretty, with a lot of options for toppings. I was expecting a little more though when I tried it — the inside doesn’t match the topping flavor (what? you don’t want an oreo cupcake when it clearly has oreo frosting??), and dare I say, it tasted kind of like the cupcakes you get at the grocery store. Cupcakes are $3.75 each. (A little pricey too, no?)
BUTTER LANE, 123 East 7th St., btw 1st and Avenue A, East Village
Never had, but they say their focus is on pure ingredients (real vanilla, real cocoa, etc). My friend liked the banana cupcake, but said options were very limited. Cupcakes are $2.75 each.
FOR THE ADVENTUROUS
BATCH, 150B West 10th St., at Waverly Pl., LES
On the other end of the spectrum is Batch, with a LOT of random flavor offerings (can you say, carrot salted caramel?) and a little tower of frosting on each one. They even have a bacon cupcake…if you’re the curious type. Cupcakes start at $2.95 each.
FOOD FIGHT, 112 Macdougal St., nr Minetta Ln., West Village
This place actually has mini burgers and mini cupcakes, but I was able to try the latter one evening when they were giving away free samples. I recommend trying the red velvet! So good. Cupcakes are $3.95 for 3.
Do you have any more suggestions on yummy cupcake places in NYC or your own city?