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can anyone introduce me to some great bakeries/cafes, etc??

Hi I'm in search of a great place to go.
Anywhere where the food/treats are great, and where it can be a good place to hang out.

The kind of places I'm thinking are Max Brenner, Au Bon Pain, Pinkberry, Koryodang, Panera....etc..

your input would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. In my opinion, no offense, but Au Bon Pain is a sucky chain, whereas Koryodang is an elegant teahouse with interesting shaved-ice desserts plus a bakery. I don't really know what your criteria are, therefore, but since you like Koryodang, might you like Chinese bubble tea houses like Teariffic on Mott St. in Chinatown and Saint's Alp (a little rowdier, though) on 3rd Av. between 9th and 10th Sts.? To go in another direction, what about Le Pain Quotidien, which I consider a GOOD chain with nice sandwiches and pretty decent desserts?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Pan

      Korydong's drink menu is overpriced, and their baked goods are subpar. I try to only hit the one in Koreatown when I'm desperate. There's not that much in the neighborhood, but I'd even prefer the 5th Ave Starbucks over them. Le Pain Quotidien is also quite expensive, with not very good coffee and mediocre food, but for a chain it's not bad. Au Bon pain is just awful in every way.
      There are countless independent bakeries/coffee shops with good to great baked goods in a variety of neighborhoods. I'll mention a few favorites.
      Amai Tea & Bake House on 3rd Ave just north of 16th turns out excellent tea cookies, delicious green tea cupcakes and other stuff both sweet and savory and has quite good Counter Culture coffee to boot.
      Cafe Zaiya on 41st between 5th and Madison has mostly-good Japanese baked goods for a low price. They also have very cheap food but the only things I really like are the sandwiches, quite a bargain. And of course Beard Papa creampuffs.
      Ceci Cela on Spring between Lafayette and Mulberry has quite good pain au chocolate, croissants and a full assortment of other French sweets, most quite good, including the lemon tart and eclair. The food is sometimes good although the waiters working in the back seem ever new and usually are shockingly bad at their jobs. Stick to the basics like ham and brie.

      1. re: Peter Cuce

        Peter, I never get the baked goods at Koryodang, only tea and sometimes shaved ice desserts. It IS expensive, but I like the citron tea and the decor and atmosphere. I'm not a coffee drinker but do find Le Pain Quotidien very good for a chain. Pricey? Yeah, a bit. French food (or food that has a pretension of being French) of almost any description in New York is unlikely to be cheap. Cafe Zaiya's creamy, slightly sweet items are good of a type but just not to my taste. As for Ceci Cela, I really have to get there more often. I'm unfamiliar with Amai and really appreciate the recommendation.

        1. re: Peter Cuce

          ceci cela is my all time fave - i've never come across anything bad there (well, coffee wasn't so great, but i really only meant the pastries). it never came across to me as a good place to sit and though.
          the cookies at olive's on spring between green & wooster are awesome, but that was truly not useful in this thread coz they don't have seats...
          i also like caffe falai - their bread rocks and it's great value. i love the white on white fitout too.

      2. A great destination that I stumbled upon a few months back is Cafe Angelique on Grove and Bleeker Street in the West Village. They have the best desserts - fresh cakes, pies, muffins and croissants. Cafe Angelique also serves up light breakfast fare and some salads and sandwiches. Its really a cute and charming place and they let you sit, enjoy your coffee and chat.


        1. Caffe Lanterna on Macdougal just south of 4th St. is a lovely Italian cafe with plenty of options for snack and beverages with much more atmosphere than any of the chains listed above. The back has been turned into an enclosed patio (a luxury in NYC) and the basement often has live music.

          1. I have to second Amai and add in Caffe Dante, Rocco's & Cha'An Tea house. All have great desserts but are very different.


            1. If you're going for atmosphere I suggest you try Oro Bakery on Broome or Once Upon a tart in Soho. If it's for the baked good's Amy's Bread (the Bleeker street and 9th Avenue locations are more condusive to sitting down, though in Chelsea Market you can see the production and sit down in the Market) or Sarabeth's in the Market (the other locations are restauants) Amy's and Sarabeth's are local chainlette's not big corporations like Au bon Pain and even Pain de Quotidien. Also there is a cute little place on West 74th street just west of Broadway that I never remember the name of.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Stuffed Monkey

                does anyone know the name of this place on w 74th??

                1. re: qwertyu

                  That's Levain Bakery. Great cookies, but I don't think there's a place to sit and hang out.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    No, Stuffed Monkey mean Cafe Margot, which is west of Broadway on 74th (Levain is east of Amsterdam on 74th). Cafe Margot is tucked into a side entrance in the Ansonia - there is no sign. Excellent almond criossants and coffee. A great place to get a bite and read the paper.

                    Levain Bakery is just a little bakery with no seating. The bread is nothing special although the chocolate bioche is excellent. Some people are crazy about their cookies which just won against Bobby Flay in a "throw down." I think they're good, if a little underbaked, but don't go out of my way to get them.

                    1. re: Almondine

                      Ah, thanks for the clarification. I've never even noticed Cafe Margot!

              2. I hate Koryodang. It's too expensive and the service is horrendous. I don't get it.

                I like Tisserie on 17th. Very cute and great baked goods/treats. There's an upstairs where you can hang out.

                I also like City Bakery. Solid food and big place to hang out with several friends.

                7 Replies
                1. re: nyccookie

                  Yeah, I don't like Koryodang either. But I also don't feel any of the Asian bakeries, whether it's Chinese, Japanese or Korean. However, there is one thing I like from Koryodang and some Japanese bakeries -- it's a fried piece of bread covered with panko and filled with curry. I don't have it often as it's too greasy for everyday fare. I've tried the Chinese version and it's just not the same. And Koryodang has a great $1 coffee popsicle -- good for when you're in the mood for a little icy treat.

                  Couldn't understand Tisserie either. I think it's a great location, but not crazy about its goods.

                  Agree with you about City Bakery (don't get the croissants). Their cookies (esp melted chocolate chip cookie) and tarts are divine. And they have a decent salad bar as well.

                  Le Pain Quotidien has decent desserts and very good breads. I do like Ceci-Cela for their croissants and baked goods. Sullivan Street Bakery is great for practically everything (though not a great place to hang out).

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    I like the pretzel croissants at City Bakery.

                    1. re: Peter Cuce

                      I used to like the croissants at City Bakery (including the pretzel one). But something has changed in the past couple of years. The croissants are heavy and doughy and not flaky like it used to be. It's like eating crescent-shaped bread with a flaky exterior instead of a croissant.

                      1. re: Miss Needle

                        I still like the pretzel croissants... almost as much as the chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate. I haven't had the regular croissants.

                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          BTW, what do you mean you don't feel any of the Chinese bakeries? There's some pretty good stuff out there. Do you not like Chinese pastries in general?

                          1. re: Peter Cuce

                            They're just OK in my book. I don't think I'm fond of the Asian interpretation of Western pastries in general. Never order dessert/bun types of things at dim sum. Even with things like roast pork buns, I find the bread a bit too sweet for my taste. Mochi and desserts of that type are fine, but I also don't go out of my way for them either. Sometimes I get the craving for them, but rarely. And as I have a slight intolerance to gluten, when I eat bready things I try to eat things that I love as opposed to things that I find merely OK. It's just not worth it to me.

                            But I know tons of people who love Chinese pastries. Just not my thing. Well, maybe with the exception of their sponge cake -- it's really light and fluffy and not too sweet.

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              I like Chinese pastries, but the best pastries I've had so far are French, Italian, or Greek. Just a personal taste which it looks like you share.

                  2. Yeah stick to City Bakery and put that evil bald man out of your head for ever and ever.

                    Pinkberry has a thousand clones, but why not splurge and have some real ice cream sometime. Cones, and Il Laboratoria del Gelato come to mind. If you're really partial to chain food sweets then how about Beard Papa for cream puffs?

                    I have a feeling some of the better suggestions for quality snacks aren't really the atmosphere you're looking for though. If you're looking for a place to sit and talk to people over baked goods try 71 Irving, and the Dean and Deluca on University probably fits that bill. Yaffa Cafe for late night pie or whatever might work, though I wouldn't expect much foodwise. Cafe Orlin when it reopens.

                    There are several locations of La Pain Quotidien all around the city, which can replace Au Bon Pain for you.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sugartoof

                      Bouchon Bakery in the Time Warner Bldg. is just about as decadent as they get.

                    2. I second Lanterna. Also great IMO is Veniero's (cafe in back)... love the strawberry millifoglia!!! I have been going there for ages...

                      342 E 11th St, New York, NY 10003

                      1. Madeleine Patisserie on west 23rd st. Two Little Red hens Bakery on 2nd ave and 85th. Baked in Red Hook Brooklyn.