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Mar 1, 2008 08:30 AM

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!