Tres Leches Cafe (NYC)

Venturing beyond the square.

Our experience

Since its inception almost a decade ago now, the driving force of this dessert blog has been a spirit of adventure — dare to venture outside of our square of familiarity, dare to try something different, to learn about new cultures and traditions.  Having been in NYC for over five years now, we have ticked off many of the more well-known dessert spots. This year, we are making it our mission to to try to seek out the dessert spots that are lesser known, and further afield.  Which part of the dessert compass shall we venture to next?

Tres Leches Cafe is a tiny shopfront wedged in the middle of a bustling, happening street in Nolita.  It specializes in the “tres leches” cake — a very moist cake soaked in three kinds of milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk and a heavy cream concoction.  On our first bite of this, we must admit, that we weren’t quite sure how to react.  It was like eating a wet sponge, but a sweet one?  Curiously, even with all that soaking in milk, this slab of a cake still oddly manages to hold its form better than we would had we been drenched in NYC’s spring rain!  And after another bite, then two, then three, and before you know it, the whole cake is gone!

Aside from the original milk flavour ($4), there are a few other flavours on offer (all $5 each), including pineapple, mango, caramel, and guava.  For first-time visitors, we would recommend purchasing the original and at least one flavour version.  Aside from cakes by the slice, Tres Leches Cafe also creates larger-sized, made-to-order cakes for celebrations.

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Our verdict

Growing up in Australia has meant that these Dessert Correspondents are quite familiar with desserts of a predominantly English, European or Asian heritage.  By contrast, we’ve had sadly, rather negligible experience of desserts from Latin America, aside from variations of flans, and cakes, cookies and/or pastries swirled with dulce de leche.  Living in NYC though has meant falling in love with soft tacos (hard tacos were the only thing in Australia :O!), the spicy sour curiosity that is a chamoyada, and now, something sweeter called the “tres leches” cake.  We can’t wait to return to Tres Leches Cafe for another slice, maybe the pineapple one next?

Dessert adventure checklist

  1. ☑ Dessert destination: Tres Leches Cafe, 160 Orchard Street, Nolita, Manhattan, New York. (The original location is on the border of Harlem and Upper East Side).
  2. ☑ Budget: $.
  3. ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Latin American desserts.
  4. ☑ Must-eat: The tres leche cake.
  5. ☑ The short and sweet story: Venturing beyond the square.


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