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A server slices and cuts knafeh, letting the mozzarella stretch as they pull up on the slice; rose water gives the top of the knafeh a rose hue
The knafeh at Tanoreen in Bay Ridge.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

27 Desserts Worth Saving Room For

Some are fancy, and others are simple — but all are incredible

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The knafeh at Tanoreen in Bay Ridge.
| Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Although there’s an endless number of desserts to try in New York, not all sweets are created equal. Some of them are worthy of a special trip, and some even define a restaurant. This here is a list of NYC’s top show-stopping desserts, including Korean-style honey-butter potato chips, Japanese kakigori, Mexican buñuelos, Malaysian rice balls, Indian baked cheese, Iranian custards, Palestinian knafeh, and more than one sundae.

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Morir soñando at 188 Bakery Cuchifritos

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Jose Coto’s 188 Cuchifritos is a palace of pork, a lunch counter that purveys a tail-to-snout array of succulent products like soft ears, meaty stomach, bouncy morcilla, garlicky pernil, and golden chicharrones. The appropriate foil for all these fatty, salty wonders is a drinkable Dominican dessert: the regal morir soñando. Staffers pulverize fresh oranges into juice, then mix the pulpy beverage over ice with a vanilla-laced condensed milk. The sugary, creamsicle-like creation cleanses your palate of all the rampant salts and jolts your body out of a pork-induced torpor.

A person pours yellow morir soñando into a plastic cup.
Morir soñando from 188 Bakery Cuchifritos.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Rice milk hibiscus swirl at Fieldtrip

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Folks might come to JJ Johnson’s Fieldtrip for the stellar gumbo or soft beef brisket, but a meal here wouldn’t be complete without one of the better new entries in the city’s deeply competitive soft serve category. The kitchen blends rice milk, raspberries, and hibiscus into a cool, purple-hued treat ($4.50). It doesn’t pack the lusciousness of a milkier gelato, but that’s not the point here; the point is to lower your core temperature with fruit and sugar — and without any dairy. The soft serve here is vegan, and it’s light enough to inhale.

A hand holds a small white cup filled with pink gelato and a red spoon.
Fieldtrip’s rice milk hibiscus swirl.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Martabak mantis at Papa Don NYC

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In the streets of Jakarta and Surabaya, the dessert known as martabak manis is ubiquitous, griddled-to-order in all sorts of sweet and savory flavors. The Indonesian pancakes are considerably harder to find in the five boroughs, but Astoria’s Papa Don is home to more than a dozen varieties, done up with condensed milk, coconut flakes, coffee, and ube. The cakes come in individual servings — two of any flavor for $7 — or family-style, sliced into 14 pieces, each with a different topping ($18). Everything is made to order, so be sure to call ahead.  

A person drizzles on condensed milk from a bottle onto a paper container with slices of the Indonesian dessert martabak manis in a kitchen.
Condensed milk being drizzled over an order of martabak manis.
Melanie Landsman/Eater NY

Grapefruit givré at Boulud Sud

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End every meal at Daniel Boulud’s flavor-packed ode to southern France and the Mediterranean with the refreshing grapefruit givré. The kitchen spoons sorbet into a hollowed-out grapefruit shell, tosses in fresh segments of the fruit and citrus marmalade, and tops it off with sesame foam and rose loukoum, before sealing the grapefruit with a brûléed orange sugar tuile ($21). Finally, halva candy floss is placed on top of it all. The end product is crunchy, crackly, chewy, icy, silky, tart, and perfumed.

A small white bowl filled with a yellow half-grapefruit and toppings.
Grapefruit givré at Boulud Sud.
Evan Sung/Dinex Group

Banana cream pie at Joe Allen

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Joe Allen’s is famous as a post-theater hangout, a place for Broadway spectators and working actors to grab an ice cold martini and a juicy, medium-rare hamburger in a packed room. But it also serves an unexpectedly excellent dessert: a fat slice of banana cream pie ($12), a layer of slow cooked tropical fruit underneath layers of custard and schlag. It is both rich and cooling, making it the perfect foil for another martini.

A slice of banana cream pie from Theater District restaurant Joe Allen basks on a plate.
A slice of banana cream pie at Joe Allen.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Avocado at Empellón

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This deceiving dessert may look like an average halved avocado, but it's actually a key lime pie parfait set on top of citrus-y ice and a smear of eucalyptus yogurt. The $19 parfait is made in an avocado-shaped mold and spray-painted to resemble the ombre of a real avocado. According to Eater critic Ryan Sutton, it’s “a five-year-old’s dream of what an avocado might taste like, before actually biting into one and realizing it’s oily, fatty, and overrated. The Stupak avocado is pastry as escapism. And it’s delicious."

An avocado and lime purée, eucalyptus yogurt, and lime snow plated on a black dish and set on a light wooden table.
Empellón’s avocado.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Kakigori at the Lobster Club

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Kakigori, the Japanese specialty of a towering mountain of flavored shave ice, is having a serious moment, and Stephanie Prida’s version at the Lobster Club is undoubtedly one of the city’s standout versions. The airy concoction ($23) is a foot high, with flavors that change seasonally. Past flavors include blood orange and cream, reminiscent of a Creamsicle, and pumpkin chai.

Mountain of shaved ice, orange on one side and vanilla on the other.
Kakigori at the Lobster Club.
Gary He/Eater NY

Rice pudding at Lodi

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Chefs Ignacio Mattos and Maxime Pradié — with the help of baker Louis Volle — have given New Yorkers a proper reason to hang out around Rockefeller Center for reasons relating to charcuterie, pastries, anchovies, and desserts. The flauta al cioccolato, a pain au chocolat that looks more like a golden candy bar than traditional viennoiserie — it’s nearly as crunchy as a Butterfinger — is your go-to option when taking out. Still, sit-down patrons would be well served to try the estimable budino di riso ($12). The kitchen cooks up a rice pudding that’s as rich and al dente as good risotto; it sits atop a layer of red wine-poached grapes for an added hint of sugar and acid.

Bruleed white rice pudding sits in a glass ramekin over a purple concord grapes poached with red wine
The rice pudding at Lodi.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Noisette at Le Pavillon

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Danielle Boulud’s Midtown fine dining palace is an expensive restaurant, with prix-fixe option at $125 and tasting menus at $155 (vegetables) and $195 (seafood). But here’s a little trick: diners can order a la carte at the bar, which boasts some of the restaurant’s best views of the nearby Chrysler Building. So consider swinging by the lounge just for dessert, particularly the noisette. Chefs pair milk chocolate crémeux and hazlenut nougatine with praline croustillant for a silky, crunchy, Ferrero Rocher-like affair.

Greenery and olive trees line the left side of the dining room at Le Pavillon.
The dining room at Le Pavillon
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Lemon torta at Ci Siamo

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Blessed with a dessert menu by famed pastry chef Claudia Fleming, Ci Siamo is an easy bright spot in the Hudson Yards-adjacent Manhattan West complex. Of particular note is the $12 lemon torta, a tangy sliver of creamy lemon filling on top of a paper-thin crust. Each bite is tart and buttery, and alongside it all is a faultless sidecar: torched meringue shaped into a tiny bowl and filled with olive oil.

Tributes at Hawksmoor NYC

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Even those who aren’t particular fans of steakhouses will find that Hawksmoor, a U.K.-based chain, is worth visiting for the cocktails and sweets alone. Notable desserts include the classic sticky toffee pudding, a bracingly tart citrus and passionfruit sundae, and perhaps most apt for pandemic era dining, a takeout box of so-called tributes — little chocolates filled with salted caramel, passionfruit, and bourbon and pecan ($20).

Husk meringue at Cosme

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The husk meringue is one of the most written-about (and Instagrammed) dishes on the menu at Enrique Olvera’s groundbreaking Mexican restaurant in Flatiron. The slightly savory corn mousse is topped with a sugary husk meringue that gives the dessert a perfect balance of flavors and textures.

A white meringue broken apart to reveal yellow corn mousse sits on a white plate.
Cosme’s husk meringue.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Fior di latte mochi at Don Angie

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Olive oil gelato lovers will delight in Don Angie’s fior di latte mochi ($8). The dessert comes to the table at this West Village Italian-American restaurant looking like a ball of mozzarella cheese, when in fact it’s mochi that’s stretched around milky fior di latte gelato then topped with olive oil and sea salt. This dessert is all about stretchy and chewy textures, coupled with the subtle flavors of olive oil and high-quality cream.

White fior di latte gelato, stuffed inside white homemade mochi, sits on a gold rimmed plate on a patterned marble table
The fior di latte mochi at Don Angie.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Yuzu tart at Dame

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Patricia Howard and Ed Szymanski’s British seafood spot specializes in British desserts. Think: vanilla posset with passion fruit and meringue or a classic sticky toffee pudding. In the summer, lucky diners might encounter an outstanding cherry tart, but right now, Szymanski offers a bit of bright winter citrus. Enter the yuzu tart, a puckery and aromatic curd garnished with a bit of zest and a generous dollop of whipped cream (around $12). Pair it with one of the venue’s many mezcals under $20.

Honey butter chips at Oiji

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The warm, house-made honey butter chips are stellar bookends to a meal at modern Korean restaurant Oiji. Get them as is for a pre-dinner snack, or have them with vanilla ice cream for a dessert that’s salty and sweet, hot and cold, and creamy and crunchy ($16).

An oval bowl filled with crispy, yellow potato chips.
Oiji’s honey butter chips.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Banana rum pudding at Thai Diner

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Ann Redding and Matt Danzer attracted a cult following at Uncle Boons for their indulgent coconut sundae, and while their flagship venue closed during the pandemic, the team has brought back the dessert at Thai Diner, loading it up with coconut caramel, palm sugar whipped cream, and candied peanuts. It’s still a heck of a dessert, but consider trying out some of Thai Diner’s newer creations. Case in point: the banana rum pudding, a tri-level parfait that involves a bottom layer of pudding, a whipped cream middle, and a lotus-root shaped sesame tuile crown on top ($9). It’s a rich study in the aromas of deeply flavorful, slowly-cooked bananas.

A lotus cookie sits atop a chalice of banana rum pudding, which sits on the corner of the mahogany bar.
The banana rum pudding at Thai Diner.
Gary He/Eater NY

Chhena poda at Dhamaka

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Chef and partner Chintan Pandya and restaurateur Roni Mazumdar have themselves a fantastic fireball of a regional Indian restaurant. The precisely calibrated dishes like goat’s neck biriyani and grilled goat belly will light the palate ablaze. It’s the type of cooking that begs for an icy finish. If only. The kitchen instead whips up a chhena poda baked cheese dessert — renowned in India’s Eastern Odisha state — that packs a caramelized exterior, a cake-like interior, and an astringent, matcha-like tang (from a banana leaf wrap). Dhamaka serves it so hot it singes your tongue, just like the rest of the exhilarating fare here.

A baked cheese dessert with a burnt top sits in a small clay bowl lined with a banana leaf.
The chhena poda at Dhamaka.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Chow nai sundae at Bonnie's

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You’ll be tempted to order one of everything at Bonnie’s — from its stunner of a stuffed rainbow trout to its wonderfully al dente “cacio e pepe mein” — but trust us: You’re going to want to leave room for dessert. Cantonese meals commonly end with slices of fresh fruit — available here as a platter for $10 — but there’s also an excellent composed dessert, a $12 ice cream sundae. The creation has cubes of deep fried milk custard hidden throughout, and on top, buttered peanuts and hot fudge ratchet up the indulgence factor even higher. It all makes for a finale best shared among a small group.

An ice cream sundae with fried milk cubes, Ovaltine fudge, and buttered peanuts.
The chow nai sundae, with fried milk cubes and ovaltine hot fudge.
Adam Friedlander/Eater NY

Pulut inti at Kopitiam

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Kyo Pang’s Chinatown stunner remains a perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon or evening, sipping black coffee with ghee butter and sampling the Malaysian sweets. There’s really no wrong choice here, from the butter toast with fragrant pandan coconut jam to the hand-rolled muah chee, but there’s something truly special about the perfumed pulut inti ($3.75). Pang executes the classic masterfully, topping firm, sticky morning glory rice with a dense crown of grated coconut sugar.

Several dishes take up a tabletop at Kopitiam in New York City.
A spread of dishes at Kopitiam.
Jean Schwarzwalder/Eater NY

Buñuelo con mousse de cajeta at Aldama

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Chef Gerardo Alcaraz serves some serious al pastor tacos at this intimate Williamsburg Mexican spot, but be sure to ask about the desserts, including the elegant buñuelo. Alcaraz fries the dough until it takes on a shatteringly crisp texture, then slathers it all with a goat’s milk cajeta mousse, imparting every bite with the flavor of cream and goat’s milk caramel. Pair with mezcal.

White cajeta mousse sits atop golden fried dough.
Buñuelo con mousse de cajeta.
Gary He/Eater NY

Sundaes at Crown Shy

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Visually, the sundaes at FiDi restaurant Crown Shy are a far cry from treats of American childhood. Pastry chef Renata Ameni makes painstakingly composed sundaes ($16) where toppings like toasted marshmallow come out with a smooth, artful browning. The flavors, though, call upon the best of playful nostalgia. The satsuma orange ice cream in particular recalls summertime orange creamsicles from a truck, but with a far broader range of textures, courtesy of a meringue, creamy ice cream, and chewy, crunchy honeycomb candy.

A sundae with a burnt, crispy top sits in a shallow bowl with bits of honeycomb candy served on the side.
Satsuma sundae at Crown Shy.
Natalie Black/Crown Shy

Flan at Sobre Masa Tortilleria

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Williamsburg’s Sobre Masa cafe recently opened this second location in Bushwick, where all of the masa for its tortillas is made and where there’s a separate, more casual menu of tacos and cocktails. A meal here is best concluded with a mezcalito, surely, but also an order of the restaurant’s flan, caramel-colored on top and wiggling in a pool of its own syrups ($9). The flan is as creamy as they come, and one is filling enough to share.

Almond chess pie at Petee's Café

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All of Petee’s pies are excellent, but one of the cafe’s most exceptional options is the toasted almond chess pie ($7.50 per slice). A burnished top tiled with sliced almonds gives way to a gooey interior and — only with the black bottom version — a layer of dark chocolate ganache. Get it (or any pie) with a generous dollop of the shop’s maple whipped cream. There’s another location on the Lower East Side, too.

A close-up photo of a single slice of pie on a plate with a fork in the background.
Black bottom chocolate almond chess pie at Petee’s.
Petee’s

Miso butterscotch pudding at Sunken Harbor Club

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This underwater-themed cocktail bar above Gage & Tollner has one the city’s more extensive drink lists. The food menu, by contrast, is just a few items long, but that’s fine with us when there’s a knockout miso butterscotch pudding to be had. Pastry chef Caroline Schiff makes a dessert that’s not too sweet, while keeping the presentation decadent: It’s topped with whipped cream and coconut flakes in a sundae glass. We won’t blame you if you end up ordering dessert before dinner, while waiting for a table downstairs.

Miso butterscotch pudding with whipped cream on top, presented in a glass bowl with a blue floral plate seated on a wooden table.
Sunken Harbor Club is located upstairs from Gage & Tollner.
Emma Orlow/Eater NY

Labne mousse at Miss Ada

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At Miss Ada in Fort Greene, chef Tomer Blechman uses Middle Eastern flavors throughout the ever-changing menu — including at dessert, where chocolate babka and kanafeh could be among the offerings. The light and pillowy labne mousse is a particular star. Sometimes it’s finished with a fruity granita; currently it’s topped with candied pecans and silan date syrup. It’s what a classic froyo wants to be when it grows up: slightly tart and with the airy texture that must be what biting into a cloud feels like.

An interior photo of a wood-accented dining room and bar with overhead ceiling fans and light fixtures.
The dining room at Miss Ada.
Michael Tulipan/Miss Ada

Rosewater and cardamom custard at Sofreh

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With Sofreh, Nasim Alikhani and Ali Saboor have given New York a rare modern Iranian restaurant, a necessary counterpoint to all the Persian kebab houses throughout the city. Sofreh’s desserts are a strong point, particularly a custard infused with the lemon-y scent of cardamom and the perfumed power of rose ($10). Saboor serves the custard in an almond cookie crust and pairs it with sour cherries and pistachios. Also be sure to check out Sofreh Cafe in Bushwick for a variety of more casual takeout sweets.

A magenta-colored sour cherry glaze coats the top half of rose-cardamom custard, which is sliced  in half and which sits on a white plate
Rose cardamom custard at Sofreh.
Sofreh

Knafeh at Tanoreen

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Rawia Bishara’s Palestinian restaurant in Bay Ridge offers a variety of fine Middle Eastern sweets, including piney sahlab custard, dense semolina-coconut harissa cake, and anise-y macaroni cookies. But if you’re here for dessert, chances are, you’re here for the knafeh, a giant slab of baked sweet cheese covered in filo and soaked in aromatic orange flower water. Half the fun is watching a server slice it tableside and stretch out the cheese like a pizzaiolo. A small order ($16) feeds two to three people; a large order ($20) feeds four to six.

Knafeh exhibits a burnished top, garnished with green pistachios, prior to being sliced; it sits on a white plate on a brown table
The knafeh at Tanoreen.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

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Morir soñando at 188 Bakery Cuchifritos

A person pours yellow morir soñando into a plastic cup.
Morir soñando from 188 Bakery Cuchifritos.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Jose Coto’s 188 Cuchifritos is a palace of pork, a lunch counter that purveys a tail-to-snout array of succulent products like soft ears, meaty stomach, bouncy morcilla, garlicky pernil, and golden chicharrones. The appropriate foil for all these fatty, salty wonders is a drinkable Dominican dessert: the regal morir soñando. Staffers pulverize fresh oranges into juice, then mix the pulpy beverage over ice with a vanilla-laced condensed milk. The sugary, creamsicle-like creation cleanses your palate of all the rampant salts and jolts your body out of a pork-induced torpor.

A person pours yellow morir soñando into a plastic cup.
Morir soñando from 188 Bakery Cuchifritos.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Rice milk hibiscus swirl at Fieldtrip

A hand holds a small white cup filled with pink gelato and a red spoon.
Fieldtrip’s rice milk hibiscus swirl.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Folks might come to JJ Johnson’s Fieldtrip for the stellar gumbo or soft beef brisket, but a meal here wouldn’t be complete without one of the better new entries in the city’s deeply competitive soft serve category. The kitchen blends rice milk, raspberries, and hibiscus into a cool, purple-hued treat ($4.50). It doesn’t pack the lusciousness of a milkier gelato, but that’s not the point here; the point is to lower your core temperature with fruit and sugar — and without any dairy. The soft serve here is vegan, and it’s light enough to inhale.

A hand holds a small white cup filled with pink gelato and a red spoon.
Fieldtrip’s rice milk hibiscus swirl.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Martabak mantis at Papa Don NYC

A person drizzles on condensed milk from a bottle onto a paper container with slices of the Indonesian dessert martabak manis in a kitchen.
Condensed milk being drizzled over an order of martabak manis.
Melanie Landsman/Eater NY

In the streets of Jakarta and Surabaya, the dessert known as martabak manis is ubiquitous, griddled-to-order in all sorts of sweet and savory flavors. The Indonesian pancakes are considerably harder to find in the five boroughs, but Astoria’s Papa Don is home to more than a dozen varieties, done up with condensed milk, coconut flakes, coffee, and ube. The cakes come in individual servings — two of any flavor for $7 — or family-style, sliced into 14 pieces, each with a different topping ($18). Everything is made to order, so be sure to call ahead.  

A person drizzles on condensed milk from a bottle onto a paper container with slices of the Indonesian dessert martabak manis in a kitchen.
Condensed milk being drizzled over an order of martabak manis.
Melanie Landsman/Eater NY

Grapefruit givré at Boulud Sud

A small white bowl filled with a yellow half-grapefruit and toppings.
Grapefruit givré at Boulud Sud.
Evan Sung/Dinex Group

End every meal at Daniel Boulud’s flavor-packed ode to southern France and the Mediterranean with the refreshing grapefruit givré. The kitchen spoons sorbet into a hollowed-out grapefruit shell, tosses in fresh segments of the fruit and citrus marmalade, and tops it off with sesame foam and rose loukoum, before sealing the grapefruit with a brûléed orange sugar tuile ($21). Finally, halva candy floss is placed on top of it all. The end product is crunchy, crackly, chewy, icy, silky, tart, and perfumed.

A small white bowl filled with a yellow half-grapefruit and toppings.
Grapefruit givré at Boulud Sud.
Evan Sung/Dinex Group

Banana cream pie at Joe Allen

A slice of banana cream pie from Theater District restaurant Joe Allen basks on a plate.
A slice of banana cream pie at Joe Allen.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Joe Allen’s is famous as a post-theater hangout, a place for Broadway spectators and working actors to grab an ice cold martini and a juicy, medium-rare hamburger in a packed room. But it also serves an unexpectedly excellent dessert: a fat slice of banana cream pie ($12), a layer of slow cooked tropical fruit underneath layers of custard and schlag. It is both rich and cooling, making it the perfect foil for another martini.

A slice of banana cream pie from Theater District restaurant Joe Allen basks on a plate.
A slice of banana cream pie at Joe Allen.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Avocado at Empellón

An avocado and lime purée, eucalyptus yogurt, and lime snow plated on a black dish and set on a light wooden table.
Empellón’s avocado.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

This deceiving dessert may look like an average halved avocado, but it's actually a key lime pie parfait set on top of citrus-y ice and a smear of eucalyptus yogurt. The $19 parfait is made in an avocado-shaped mold and spray-painted to resemble the ombre of a real avocado. According to Eater critic Ryan Sutton, it’s “a five-year-old’s dream of what an avocado might taste like, before actually biting into one and realizing it’s oily, fatty, and overrated. The Stupak avocado is pastry as escapism. And it’s delicious."

An avocado and lime purée, eucalyptus yogurt, and lime snow plated on a black dish and set on a light wooden table.
Empellón’s avocado.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Kakigori at the Lobster Club