Tasty Treats on the Upper East Side

Get Your Cookies, Cakes, and Brownies at These Upper East Side Bakeries

Two Little Red Hens cupcakes
Wendy Zarganis

If you’ve got a weakness for sweet treats, hop the 6 train to the Upper East Side for a visit to some of the city’s best bakeries. You’ll find delicious cupcakes, world-famous brownies, mouth-watering cakes and pies, and plenty of other tasty goodies.

Two Little Red Hens

1652 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10028-3110

Two Little Red Hens' Brooklyn Blackout Cake will bring you back again and again to this cozy bakery, filled with traditional American favorites and handcrafted charm.
Founded ten years ago (in Park Slope. The UES location arrived in 2001) by Mary Louis Clemens and Christina Winkler, the Two Little Red Hens has been consistently churning out bountiful baked goodness to the delight of locals and visitors.

Those seeking custom-made, stunningly decorated birthday or wedding cakes will find helpful service to compliment the creative talent. In addition to cookies and enticing tarts and cupcakes, Two Little Red Hens' makes a New York style cheesecake that is classic and delicious.

But the insulin-emergency highlights are the Brooklyn Blackout Cake (Gooey chocolate genius) and the Red Velvet cake with memorable creamy frosting. Like the industrious Little Red Hen in the children's fairy tale, you'll want to keep all your cakes and goodies for yourself after sampling the bounty here.

Payard Bistro & Patisserie

1032 Lexington Avenue between 73rd and 74th St.

This contemporary French bistro and posh French Patisserie is a must-stop for tourists and locals looking for a classy New York dining experience.
The elegant yet approachable David Rockwell interior is the perfect setting for high tea, a romantic dinner or lunch with the ladies. (Try the decadent, Twice Baked Upside Down Cheese Soufflé With Parmesan Cream Sauce And White Truffle Oil.)

Payard is renowned for Francois Payard’s brilliant pastries and upscale desserts.
(In a favorite episode of “Sex in the City,” a chocolate-obsessed Miranda finds herself drawn to Payard’s dessert display as if the mother ship was calling her home). Executive Chef Philippe Bertineau’s bistro menu is phenomenal. Payard features Kosher cakes and chocolate as well.

Private parties, including bridal showers and other special events are welcome, but be sure to book months in advance.

Glaser’s Bake Shop

1670 First Avenue at 87th Street

Glaser’s makes my favorite brownie in the world. This brownie will distract you from your problems, even your joys, because your senses are so consumed by its silky smooth chocolate perfection.

The Glaser family has run their bake shop since 1902. Three generations later, the Glasers’ sincere love of the neighborhood equals their love of baking.

“We still see the same families come in here,” says Herb Glaser who co-owns the bakery with his brother, John. “One customer, Winnie, she’s 96. She comes in all the time. And she’ll let me know if I’ve raised the price on anything.”

Although Herb and John grew up working part time in the bake shop and learning the secrets to their family’s outstanding cakes and baked goods through osmosis, Herb had vastly different and almost counterintuitive career plans when he was in college. “I wanted to be a dentist,” he says nonchalantly, though I could tell as he spoke, his creative mind was conjuring up scrumptious desserts that go against everything the American Dental Association stands for.

Black and White cookies, dessert bars, the aforementioned enchanting brownies and handcrafted cakes are all reasons to come by this First Avenue beacon for baked goods and old-fashioned New York ambiance.

Martha Frances Cheesecake

1707 2nd Avenue between 88th & 89th St.

I really wanted to like it here, even with its dingy awning, dwarfed by the bright yellow “Elaine’s” sign of the landmark Second Avenue restaurant a few feet away. With three Starbucks viciously encroaching in the vicinity, I try to support the underdog for my sugar needs.

I went to Martha Frances on several occasions hoping to feel a cozy, neighborhood vibe. Mercurial owner Jan Vascarino has a cult-following among older denizens of the Upper East Side who come for her homemade cheesecakes (literally homemade, Vascarino bakes out of her apartment down the street). Martha Frances’ 7” cheesecake runs for a market-value $28, and the regally priced 9” one is $53. I called Martha Frances several times, wanting to ask Vascarino what was the secret ingredient that called for the significant price increase, but she never returned calls for an interview. ( Note: as of this printing, only the 7” cheesecake is being sold)

If you’re looking for a cup of coffee ($1.62-2.11) and a tasty cookie ($2.50) or even some delicious banana pudding, you’ll find it here, but don’t necessarily expect cheery conversation. You might get a frosty glare if you linger at one of the tables to finish your coffee – even if you’re the only customer in there. Conversely, you might get asked to “watch the store” by a frenetic Vascarino as she whisks out of the store with a “be right back.” (It’s up to your moral fiber to not walk out the abandoned store with a mudpie and the cash register.)