It’s no secret that I have a sweet tooth and anytime I am visiting somewhere, I will be investigating bakeries and ice cream shops. I am lucky to have family in New York City who recommended an Upper West Side shop called Levain Bakery. “Levain” is a French word for a starting ingredient in bread.
Since 1994, area locals have been lining up at Levain for gigantic, seriously rich chocolate chip cookies, straight from the oven. I have visited this bakery in both the early afternoon and in the early evening, and there are always lines outside. Smiling New Yorkers are eagerly awaiting the taste temptations inside. Tourists crossing West 74th Street at Amsterdam can even smell the cookies baking from the corner. The smell is irresistible and makes me feel like I’m in my own kitchen baking.
Levain Bakery is located on the ground floor down a very steep set of stairs. Lines back up at the counter and unfortunately, there are very few stools to eat inside.
The chocolate chip walnut cookies are especially popular, as are the dark chocolate chip cookies. I am more of an oatmeal raisin cookie fan and tend to take my cookie to go to eat in either nearby Central Park or Riverside Park.
In the mornings, fresh pastries and scones are on the menu. The chocolate chip brioche, scones and blueberry muffins are some of my favorites. Choices include an array of baked goods including raisin sticky buns, chocolate rolls, breads and fruit tarts. Prices are average for New York City and run from roughly $3.00 to $5.00 each. Even in the mornings, dogs are tied up outside and strollers are parked in line.
This bakery is a little out of the way of the main tourist areas (closest subway stop is West 72nd Street), but this shop is worth the trip. On my most recent visit to New York City, I am embarrassed to admit I came here three separate times. It’s been just a few days and I’m already missing the amazing choices available.
Freshly baked goods are a comfort and a treat. A good bakery can also be the heart and soul of a neighborhood and it’s always nice to stumble on some place special as a tourist. New Yorkers know that Levain Bakery is an Upper West Side institution, with delicacies worth the wait. I’m getting hungry as I write this, just thinking about those cookies.
167 West 74th Street
New York, NY 10023