Take a culinary tour of 20 of Harlem’s bakeries, from the traditional to the laptop friendly. After taste testing our way through the area, we’ve complied a list of some of our favorites below. Enjoy!
1. Lady Lexis Sweets
Red Velvet heart cake topped with 23 Karat gold leaf made by Lady Lexis Sweets
Starting in East Harlem, we began with Lady Lexis Sweets located in the historic Mount Morris Park district at the northeastern edge of the park. Taking Valentine’s Day very seriously, one of their specialities is a red velvet heart cake topped with 23 Karat gold leaf. Aside from a wide variety of cakes, cookies and candy, they also have one wall of their shop dedicated to baking and candy making accessories, and another wall of healthy granola offerings including vegan granola.
2. Evelyn’s Kitchen
Lady Lexis Sweets
Evelyn’s Kitchen is at a nice new location at 2317 First Avenue near 119th Street. In addition to their bakery items, new for this year is a Chef’s Table at Evelyn’s Kitchen, a prix-fixe gourmet 4-course dinner in their cafe.
3. Pasteles Capy Mexican Bakery
Pasteles Capy Mexican Bakery is a large bakery chain in Mexico with three locations in New York, including one in East Harlem located at 242 East 116th Street.
4. Capri Bakery
Capri Bakery located at 186 East 116th Street
Capri is another traditional Spanish bakery, opening their doors in 1984 and specializing in home baked Cuban style bread, pastellios de guava (guava pastry) and Puerto-Rican coquettes. Always crowded, they have a large selection of cakes for all occasions.
Capri – a traditional Spanish bakery
5. MY NY Bakery Cafe
My NY Bakery and Cafe located at 1565 Lexington Avenue near 100th Street
You can have your pastry and coffee sitting down inside My NY Bakery Cafe, one of the newer shops in the neighborhood where you’ll see the locals with their laptops. It’s located near 100th Street just a few blocks from Mt. Sinai Hospital and the northern part of Museum Mile, which includes El Museo del Barrio and The Museum of the City of New York.
Inside My NY Bakery and Cafe
6. El Barrio Bakery
El Barrio Bakery located at 2002 Third Avenue at 110th Street
While there is no website for El Barrio Bakery, located at 2002 Third Avenue at 110th Street, there is no shortage of customers. A traditional Spanish bakery, they had a huge selection of cakes, pastries and coffee’s and an enticing display window.
7. Boise Bakery
Bosie Bakery on Second Avenue with Executive Pastry Chef Damien Herrgott in the middle
We spotted a tiny bakery, not on our original list, while on the bus heading down Second Avenue. Boise Bakery turned out to be quite a bakery gem, and as luck would have it, the Executive Pastry, Damien Herrgott, was there. Chef Herrgott grew up in Besancon, France, in a townhouse above his parents patisserie. In 2005 he joined Bouley Bakery in Tribeca. Two years later he moved on to head the pastry kitchen at the Michelin starred La Goulue on Madison. He is now with Boise Bakery and their sister restaurant, the Bosie Tea Parlor in the West Village.
8. Savoy Bakery
As there might be several churches on a Harlem block, there can also be several bakeries on a block. Savoy Bakery is just steps away from El Barrio Bakery at East 110th Street. The Savoy opened in 2003 by Brian Ghaw–who recently opened Feast in the East Village. Mr. Ghaw’s parents have had a bakery in New Jersey for more than two decades. After graduating from NYU, a bakery seemed a good entrepreneurial beginning for him. At the Savoy, you have the option to stay and eat there, while enjoying the local art on their walls.
9. La Tropezienne Bakery
La Tropezienne Bakery located at 2131 First Avenue near 110th St.
La Tropezienne Bakery has been in the same location since 1991, originally opened by Roger Bransol hailing from Lyon, France. He apprenticed and worked in Cannes, Nice, Gras, Tahiti and finally settled in New York’s East Harlem. His recipes were passed on to many of his apprentices that continue in his tradition since his death in 2011.
10. Valencia Bakery
Valencia Bakery located at 159 East 103rd Street first opened in 1948 on Fifth Ave in Harlem
Another of the traditional mainstays of Spanish Harlem is the Valencia Bakery. It has been said that nothing beats their pineapple wedding cake. First opening their doors in 1948 on Fifth Avenue in Harlem, they now have two bakeries in the Bronx and one bakery in Brooklyn in addition to their 103rd Street location – with their main operation on Edgewater Road in the Bronx for the last forty years. They say that the pineapple filling is still their #1 selling item.
11. Hot Bread Kitchen Incubator
La Marqueta located on Park Avenue between 111th Street and 116th Street in East Harlem
You might recognize the home of our next two bakeries. La Marqueta has been in the news lately because of a $3 million renovation directed by the efforts of City Coucil Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the Economic Development Corporation. It was also in the news last year, since it was directly across from the East Harlem Con Edition explosion.
At the back of La Marqueta, behind the many vendors, you will find the Hot Bread Kitchen Incubator. We were lucky to catch Grace Moore, their communications manager, in her office the day we visited. Her business card announces the program as economic security for immigrant women and minority entrepreneurs by providing workforce development and support to aspiring bakers and food entrepreneurs. Their website indicates an opportunity to grow a business for the first two or three years without the cost of a building and equipping their own commercial kitchen. We got to see some of the women at work. The incubator also has a retail bakery in the front portion of La Marqueta.
Hot Bread Kitchen Incubator at the back of La Marqueta
Hot Bread Kitchen retail shop at the front of La Marqueta
12. Patisserie Vanessa
Leaving the incubator, there is the tiny bakery Patisserie Vanessa, selling miniature French pastries. It was a delight to meet Vanessa and hear that she started with the Hot Bread Kitchen incubator, working with them for two years, and had just obtained her own space within La Marqueta, opening her own bakery. Her hope is to sell both retail and wholesale and her website will be live sometime next week at www.patisserievanessa.com.
13. Make My Cake
Make My Cake
On a sugar rush, we made our way to West Harlem to the popular Make My Cake on 139th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd., an area also in the news located on the corner of Strivers Row and across the street from the Harlem Renaissance Ballroom. Make My Cake has a second Harlem location on the corner of 116th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd.
14. Lee Lee’s Baked Goods
Lee Lee’s Baked Goods
Walking over to West 118th Street, we visited the King of Rugelach, Alvin Lee Smalls (Mr. Lee – as he’s known) at Lee Lee’s Baked Goods. Here we found not only rugelach, but sticky buns, lemon cake, and an assortment of cookies and pies.
15. Levain Bakery
Levain Bakery located at 2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd near 117th Street
Just down the block on Frederick Douglass Boulevard near 117th Street, we found the queen of cookies: Levain Bakery. Founded by two friends in 1994, they have locations not only in Harlem, but also on the Upper West Side and in the Hamptons.
17. Patisserie Des Ambassades and Lenox Saphire
Patisserie Des Ambassades opened at 200 Frederick Douglass Boulevard with a Senegalese kitchen and a Senegalese/French pastry counter. It was such a popular destination for baked goods (love the almond croissants), they took the space next door specifically for baked goods. Two years ago, the owner expanded to Lenox Avenue, with a new restaurant and pastry shop, Lenox Saphire, located at 341 Lenox Avenue at 127th Street, adding live music to the menu.
18. Lloyd’s Carrot Cake
Lloyd Adams first started selling baked goods more than twenty-five years ago out of his mother’s Harlem apartment. By 1985, he had enough money to open a storefront selling his signature carrot cake along with homemade cakes, pies and muffins. Lloyd passed away in 2007, but his wife Betty continues the tradition at the Lloyd’s Carrot Cake shop located at 1553 Lexington Avenue, between 99th and 100th Streets.
19. Sprinkle Splash Sweet Shoppe
20. LA Sweets NY
No, this shop is not a transplant from L.A. It’s the bake studio of Loretta Alston, who creates gorgeous gourmet cakes and cupcakes that are almost too attractive to eat, with pretty packaging to match.
This newly opened bake shop is located on Lenox Avenue’s restaurant row, with seating planned for indoors and backyard garden area, and they are wheelchair accessible. Located at 192 Lenox Avenue, between 119/120th Streets in Harlem.