With a predilection for the over-sweet, saccharine and colourful, desserts in New York are oftentimes, superficially beautiful (and highly Instagrammable), yet substantively lacking. How about its chocolate? We still believe that London and Melbourne have far more refined and sophisticated chocolates than NYC, and that San Francisco’s chocolate offerings surpass NYC too, but we have hunted down a few choice chocolatiers in the Flatiron/Union Square district, in Soho, and in East Village. Join us now for a walking tour of uptown’s best home-grown chocolatiers. (*Note, we skip the overseas imports from France, Belgium or Switzerland here).
- Dessert destination: Myzel’s Chocolates, 140 West 55th Street, Midtown West.
- Best for: Old fashioned chocolates.
- Short and sweet story: Myzel’s is one of the last remaining old-school specialty shops in NYC. The small space is a particular pleasure to visit around Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter, when every nook and cranny of it is extravagantly decorated. Come here for traditional chocolate truffles resembling precious gemstones in a red-ribboned box.
- Dessert destination: Kee’s Chocolates, 228 Columbus Avenue, Upper West Side.
- Best for: Modern flavours.
- Short and sweet story: We always dream of leaving our 10am-10pm lawyer job and opening up a cake or chocolate store. As such, we love Kee’s backstory; she left her own corporate job and became a chocolatier instead. At Kee’s, the chocolates are expensive, they are mostly of the dark variety, but you will find flavours here that will be found nowhere else in the city. Creme brulee, elderflower, kaffir lime, black sesame, ginger, jasmine, honey kumquat, lemongrass, there’s a slight East-meets-West inflection that we love.
Jacques Torres Chocolate
- Dessert destination: Jacques Torres, 285 Amsterdam Avenue, Upper West Side (other locations around Manhattan as well).
- Best for: Fruit chocolate (pineapple, coconut, raspberry) and the love series (menage a trois, hearts of passion (aka passionfruit), love bug (aka key lime and white chocolate) etc).
- Short and sweet story: Jacques Torres was one of the first chocolatier we visited when we first arrived in NYC some five years ago, and it still remains to this day, one of our favourite places for sophisticated, yet affordable, chocolates. Each JT store is an immersive wonderland of all things chocolate (don’t miss JT’s hot chocolate and dinner-plate-sized chocolate cookie), but what distinguishes JT from other chocolatiers is that the staff consistently take especial care with allergy sensitivities. The chocolates themselves are presented in a striking orange brown box. Running the gamut from white, milk and dark chocolate varieties, we have never had one that we didn’t love.
- Dessert destination: Mondel Chocolates, 2913 Broadway, Morningside Heights / Upper West Side.
- Best for: Old-fashioned European-style chocolates.
- Short and sweet story: Established in the 1940s, Mondel’s — like Myzel’s above — is one of the last remaining vestiges of NYC’s golden era of specialty stores. It’s a narrow space, with every shelf crammed to the brim with chocolates that follow the path of traditional European classicism (think, coffee, tiramisu, hazelnut, raspberry, amaretto, fig, champagne, marnier etc). We first discovered Mondel’s while studying at Columbia, and chocolates from here (combined with boxes of Insomnia Cookies) were a most welcome distraction from study. 😛 In short, Mondel’s chocolates are infused with nostalgia.