There are too many great things about living in the West Village to list, but for me, the bakeries are the best part. Whether it’s a $2 croissant or a pineapple-yuzu Linzer cookie baked by a former Per Se pastry chef, there’s always something new and delicious to seek out.
Here’s a tour of my favorite places—the people waiting for Magnolia Bakery have no idea what they’re missing.
Start simply at Patisserie Claude (187 West 4th Street). The French owner of the decades-old bakery retired in 2008, selling it to his longtime head baker, Pablo. If you come before 10 a.m., the croissants, pains au chocolat, and quiches may still be warm. Skip the coffee since there’s plenty of good stuff nearby at Joe, Jack’s, Stumptown, Third Rail, and Toby’s Estate. I also like to bring Claude’s giant meringues to dinner parties. Dressed up with fresh berries and whipped cream, they never fail to impress.
If it’s after 9 a.m., Dominique Ansel Kitchen (137 Seventh Avenue South) will be open. The inventor of the Cronut opened a high-tech pastry lab that makes many of its experimental treats to order. Share a brown sugar DKA—basically butter, flour, and sugar caramelized into a delicious concoction—and a chocolate-Nutella swirl croissant with flaky sea salt. I also like the matcha beignets, which are a beautiful mess to eat.
Next up: Serenity. The tiny, calm Té Company (163 West 10th Street) is one of the city’s secret addresses. Té offers a wide selection of oolong teas sourced by Taiwanese co-owner Elena Liao, along with small plates by her husband, Frederico Ribeiro, formerly of Per Se. I always start with a pot of muscat-like Oriental Beauty tea while deciding what to eat. In addition to making the best Spanish tortillas in the city, served with homemade bread that tops anything I’ve had in a restaurant this year, Ribeiro dishes up two pastries daily: Those Linzers—garnished to order with grated yuzu zest and salt—and a deceptively simple-looking muffin that is always moist and surprising. If you’re lucky, you can try some of the steamed chocolate cake with whipped cream and mascarpone that’s currently trending on Instagram. (NB: Open 10:30 a.m.–7 p.m. Tuesday–Sunday. Closed Monday.)
Nearby Mah Ze Dahr Bakery (28 Greenwich Avenue) is pure indulgence, from the luxe design to the discreetly over-the-top goods. I love it so much I even bought a “black card,” which entitles me to a pastry a day for a year! At breakfast, my go-tos are the blueberry coffee cake (yes, that’s ground coffee in the buttery crumb topping), brioche doughnuts, and dried cherry scones. And the granola parfait qualifies as dessert in my book. Afternoons are about the banana bread, chocolate explosion cookie, and MZD bar. The cream-filled choux—topped with gold leaf—are always welcome at dinner parties. My son loves the rich hot chocolate, served with a homemade, torched-to-order marshmallow.
Heading west toward the Meatpacking District, Aux Merveilleux de Fred (37 Eighth Avenue) is worth a quick stop for a merveilleux, a bite-size meringue frothed with whipped cream and topped with treats like shaved dark chocolate or crumbled coffee.
Finally, I make sure I’ve packed my punch card for High Street on Hudson (637 Hudson Street). The award-winning Philadelphia-based bakery and restaurant bakes its breads on-site. I love the Anadama, made with molasses and cracked corn; the buckwheat cherry (great with soft cheeses); and the ancient grains. These breads often sell out, but High Street bakes throughout the day: Be sure to ask when the next batch is ready. You can also taste the breads in the fantastic breakfast and lunch sandwiches. If you’re still feeling snack-y, buy some pastries for the road: a red-eye Danish (topped with ham over espresso pastry cream), cider doughnuts, and their clever take on the Fig Newton.