One of the great pleasures of adulthood has been discovering restaurants that serve dessert for dinner. The restaurants that follow don’t relegate confections to meal’s end—they give the sweet stuff center stage, letting it shine via unusual ingredients and combinations. Here are our five favorite places to get dessert for dinner. By Jessica Allen.
ChikaLicious Dessert Bar
This tiny, elegant restaurant in the East Village serves three courses for $16, a really incredible, really popular deal. If you go, make a reservation or make sure to arrive as it’s opening. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait a while for your Lemongrass Panna Cotta with pineapple sorbet and poppy seed puff or Honey Parfait in Five Citrus Gazpacho. Don’t have time for a sit-down extravaganza? Head across the street to Dessert Club, owned by the same folks, for a cupcake, cookie, or sundae—slightly more lowbrow, perhaps, but no less delicious.
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Sweet Revenge takes the “dessert bar” concept literally: this cupcakery in the West Village pairs wine and beer with their adult cupcakes. Note that here “adult” doesn’t mean XXX, but rather grown-up flavors. (Savories and other baked goods are made on the premises as well.) Try the Dirty (a Valrhona chocolate cupcake finished with dark chocolate ganache) coupled with a glass of C’est La Vie Rose, the Spice Islands Carrot cupcake with a glass of pinot grigio, or the Very Strawberry with a long pull of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.
Spot Dessert Bar
Giving classic American and European desserts an Asian inflection, Spot Dessert Bar serves up calorie-filled wonder in a basement space along St. Marks Place in the East Village. The tapas menu changes with the seasons, but expect interesting concoctions and thoughtful presentations no matter when you visit. Take, for instance, the Soft Cheesecake, which includes walnut soil (!), passion foam, and blueberry compote, or the Thai Tea Creme Brulee, featuring hot Thai tea and a flourless jasmine rice wafer.
Rice to Riches
From a futuristic, all white storefront in Nolita comes all kinds of crazy rice pudding. The uniquely named flavors from Rice to Riches include Sex Drugs and Rocky Road, Take Me to Tiramisu, and Coconut Coma, as well as seasonal offerings like Secret Life of Pumpkin (holiday) and It Takes Two to Peach Mango (summer). There are toppings too, such as Spirit (oatmeal coconut crumble) and Remedy (caramel vanilla sauce). “We eat all we can,” says a sign on the door. “The rest we sell.”
Kyotofu’s slogan is “changing the world one soybean at a time.” The Japanese desserts at this Hell’s Kitchen restaurant utterly transform tofu. (New York magazine has called its cupcakes, which incorporate soy milk in addition to tofu, “the best in New York.”) If you’re not quite down with the dessert for dinner concept, you can start with soba, salad, or another savory option from the seasonal selections; otherwise, head straight for the sweet stuff, from kuro goma sweet tofu to a warm sweet potato cake. Romantics can select the kaiseki for $28, in which the chef creates a dessert tasting menu for two.