I was going to write a long wrap up of the best cookies in New York City, visiting each of the “top” cookie bakeries, and offering my review. But then I figured why bother– there is already one clear winner. One cookie shop has been my favorite for years, my go-to spot for hostess gifts or when I just feel like blowing out the calories on a decadent treat– Levain Bakery on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
As it had been awhile since I last visited Levain’s, a revisit was in order, just to make sure the cookies were as good as I remembered. I’d forgotten how small Levain’s is– barely bigger than a shoebox– and would have missed it if it weren’t for the small crowds gathered outside, gobbling down their hot cookies.
I decided it was best if I sampled all four flavors, just to ensure my research was as complete as possible– chocolate chip walnut (the most popular), oatmeal raisin, dark chocolate chocolate chip and dark chocolate peanut butter chip. Ice cold milk is also available (highly recommended for the full cookie experience).
The cookies come out piping hot, so unless you plan on eating them right away, it’s best to get them boxed and tied up. For protection. For souvenir purposes, expect the cookies to keep 4-5 days (I put mine in a ziplock). If you refrigerate them, they’ll last even longer, up to ten days.
While you’ll want to save some cookies for a souvenir, it’s nearly impossible not to eat a freshly baked one on the spot. You could join the crowd and wolf yours down while standing on the sidewalk, but if you prefer a seat, a sign outside the shop recommends walking two blocks to Central Park.
The two blocks to Central Park with your hot cookies are possibly the longest walk you will experience (and since these are actually avenues, it’s really more like three city blocks). I saw cookie casualties everywhere, people who couldn’t make the three blocks and instead sprawled themselves on strangers’ stoops. I probably would have done the same, but since I needed to photograph the cookies for this post, I made the extra effort for my readers.
What makes Levain’s cookies so irresistably delicious? These mammoth cookies are baked to perfection– crispy on the outside, properly gooey on the inside, made with the purest, highest-quality ingredients. Even after they have cooled off, days later, they still manage to retain the addictive texture and flavor.
Although Levain bakery has only been around twenty years or so, it’s already been adopted by locals as an institution, a friendly neighborhood spot where you can get a delicious cookie, every single time, that will always be as good as your remembered.
What to Buy: Cookies (walnut chocolate chip is the most popular but they are all equally delicious)
Where to Get it: Levain Bakery, original at 167 West 74th (off Amsterdam)
What to Know: Cookies last 4-5 days as is (I put mine in a ziplock), or up to 10 if refrigerated.