New York is the reigning champ of sweets. It’s that easy. But if you have you have to score in another city (that’s not Paris), San Francisco is as good a contender as any. How do the two cities fare in a Sweet Freak Smackdown?
Specialty’s v. Levain
Sigh. There’s nothing better than a whopper of a cookie. Levain takes the cake with its six-ounce beauties. But Specialty’s isn’t far behind.
My love for Specialty’s—in particular, the wheatgerm chocolate chip cookie (just trust me on this one)—was very deep when I lived in San Francisco. It hasn’t waned. That I got to the Battery Street location just when the black and white cookies were pulled warm from the oven only solidified my love for the hippie-ish café.
Verdict: Levain for consistency and quality. Specialty’s for range of flavors (11 of them) and fun.
Tartine Bakery v. City Bakery
These two are different, that’s for sure. Tartine is small, City Bakery is sprawling. Tartine is still firmly entrenched in French pastries, CB has mastered American snacks. Tartine is six-years-old, Maury Rubin served his first tarts in 1990. But they both produce the most mind-blowing baked goods (as well as savories) that warrant the vulture-like fans who pace and scope, pace and scope, waiting a wee table to open so they can sit and feast.
Verdict: Tartine for its bread pudding. City Bakery for its peanut butter cookie.
Bi-Rite Creamery v. il Laboratorio del Gelato
Both of these homegrown gelato shops produce small batches of unique flavors made with the best (best, best) ingredients. As much as I love il Laboratorio, I’ve never had ice cream as good as the salted caramel at Bi-Rite. Never.
Verdict: Give it up for SF.
Recchuiti v. Kee’s
Michael Recchuiti is an exacting chocolatier. So is Kee Ling Tong. Michael’s signature treats are the fleur de sel caramels and s’more bites. Kee’s are the crème brulee truffles and fresh macaroons. Michael has an adorable sliver of a spot in the gorgeous Ferry Building. Kee’s eked out space in western Soho. I could go on. They’re both amazing. But…
Verdict: This one goes to Kee’s.
Fog City News v. Food Emporium
World-class chocolate should be more available. Kudos to Fog City News and Food Emporium/Trump Plaza for doing their part to share the wealth with the masses. Fog City News offers over 100 bars from around the world. Food Emporium for its sheer brazenness of attaching a fine chocolate shop to the smelly
Verdict: Fog City News for its impressive selection. Food Emporium for the brazenness of attaching a fine chocolate shop to a smelly grocery store.
This one is tough. San Francisco has no shortage of kickass sweet shops. I didn’t even mention Miette, Citizen Cake or Bittersweet.
But New York is… New York. Untouchable. Delicious. Divine. From cupcakes at Batch or ChikaLicious Dessert Club to croissants at Patisserie Claude or Amai Bakeshop. From scones at Alice’s Tea Cup to brownies at Baked. From soy desserts at Kyotofu to vegan treats from This Chick Bakes. From cocoa at Jacques Torres to pudding from the Dessert Truck. From Doughnut Plant to Birdbath, Papabubble to Three Tarts, Lady M to Black Hound, Sugar Sweet Sunshine to Two Little Red Hens… okay, it’s not so tough after all.