The goodies at Magnolia Bakery have the power to transform otherwise rational adults into rabid sugar fiends. Now, the sweets shop that ignited New York’s insatiable appetite for cupcakes is bringing its sugary treats – and perennially long lines – to a new location on Columbus Avenue. But no matter where you find yourself in Manhattan, you’re never far away from a cupcake fix. The Resident asked blogger Rachel Kramer Bussel, founder and one of the editors of Cupcakes Take the Cake (cupcakestakethecake.blogspot.com), where to find the city’s best cupcakes. —Heather Corcoran
West Village/Upper West Side - Magnolia Bakery
401 Bleecker St. and 200 Columbus Ave., 212-462-2572
Even “Sex and the City”-obsessed tourists making the pilgrimage to Magnolia’s West Village location can’t keep die-hard cupcake fanatics from this baking landmark. “Some say it’s overrated, and while we don’t love their only-one-dozen-at-a-time policy, the incessant lines, or hype about Magnolia, if you’re looking for a fabulous buttercream frosting or have never been there, Magnolia is consistently tasty and you can sit in the little park with other cupcake fans and scarf yours down (or Upper West Siders can now have uptown cupcakes),” said Bussel.
Lower East Side - Sugar Sweet Sunshine
126 Rivington St., 212-995-1960
“They inspired me to start the blog, and have one of the coziest bakeries in the city, a great place for dates or just hanging out for hours on end,” said Bussel. “The staff is courteous, cupcakes are simple, flavorful and moist, and the place smells wonderful.” The Lower East Side spot was opened by two former Magnolia employees, and “there’s a real sense of community, from comments and customer photos on the wall to artwork.” You won’t leave Sugar Sweet Sunshine with any leftovers, though, “their cupcakes are consistently delicious, and just the right size.”
Tribeca-Tribeca Treats (pictured above)
94 Reade St.,212-571-0500
This downtown bakery offers adventurous eaters the chance to try far-out flavor combinations (like the Sweet and Salty) created by investment banker-turned-baker Rachel Thebault at this relative newcomer. “As a marshmallow fan, their S’mores Cupcake hit the spot, and these are a bit smaller and the cake denser than some of the more notable bakeries, plus they’ve got fun cupcake cards and cookbooks and plenty of space inside,” said Bussel.
Midtown East/Upper West Side - Buttercup Bakeshop
973 Second Ave., 212-350-4144
141 W. 72nd St., 212-787-3800
This homey shop offers colorful cupcakes from one of the founders of Magnolia Bakery. Flavors favor the old-fashioned, and the consistently well-made treats keep customers coming back. Bussel recommends the “especially noteworthy” German chocolate cake, as well as the marshmallow frosting.
Upper East Side/Yorkville - Two Little Red Hens
1652 Second Ave., 212-452-0476
Cupcakes don’t take center stage at this Yorkville bakery, but they’re still worth a try if you find yourself on the Upper East Side and craving chocolate (in which case the decadent and gooey Brooklyn Blackout is the recommended antidote). “These are slightly on the larger and greasier side, but they make a great red velvet,” said Bussel. “We recommend splitting one of these massive cupcakes.”