This Is Where to Go for the Best Late-Night Dessert in NYC

New York offers surprisingly few late-night dessert offerings for a city that never sleeps. We’ve rounded up some solid options in a variety of neighborhoods, whether you’re looking to top off a late dinner, a night of theater, or just hankering for something sweet around 11pm (it happens). Onward for great shakes, cakes, cookies, and more!

Caffe Palermo

Caffe Palermo cannolis

Our Little Italy pick is Caffe Palermo, the mecca of cannolis. Try at least one classic cannoli, plus other Italian treats like tiramisu, profiteroles, and lady fingers. The cappuccinos and hot cocoa make perfect pairings with dessert as well. Caffe Palermo might be best described as the Katz’s of dessert, with its wide selection, longstanding local appeal, late-night hours, and just the right amount of kitsch. Open till midnight Sunday through Thursday and till 2am Friday and Saturday. 148 Mulberry St., 212-431-4205,

Ample Hills at Bubby’s

Bubby’s location underneath the High Line shares space with an Ample Hills Creamery counter. That’s code for incredible, Brooklyn-born ice cream you can enjoy at the park during late-night summer hours or at the big half-moon booth near the counter. Try "It Came from Gowanus," an eccentric flavor made with a dark chocolate ice cream and mixed with brownie, white chocolate, orange, and Grand Marnier. Located in the Meatpacking District, this Ample Hills is open until 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Bubby’s: 73 Gansevoort St., 212-219-0666,

Empire Diner

If you like stepping into nostalgic spaces, go to Empire Diner for lots of silver mid-century accents and exteriors straight out of an Edward Hopper painting. An update on classic diner fare, Empire Diner’s menu wows with dishes from patty melts to fennel-dusted salmon. The dessert menu is great  top-to-bottom, from creme brulee doughnuts with mini coffee milkshakes to the Empire Sundae to the salted chocolate layer cake made with smooth chocolate ganache. They also have an impressive slate of milkshakes (toasted marshmallow, anyone?). Open til 1am every night in Chelsea. 210 10th Ave., 212-335-2277,

Insomnia Cookies

Insomnia Cookies

With a name like Insomnia Cookies, this chain of little cookie shops has a corner on the late-night dessert market. There are 10 locations in Manhattan, so you have ample opportunity for a chocolate chip peanut butter cookie at 2am. Insomnia also delivers! Most locations are open until 3am at the earliest every night of the week. Locations throughout the city,

Junior’s Cheesecake

In the wide world of New York cheesecake, Junior’s is a cut above the rest. Located in the heart of Times Square, it’s a great place for a late slice after you see The Band’s Visit on Broadway. The devil’s food, strawberry, and plain cheesecake flavors will keep you singing into the night. 1515 Broadway, 212-302-2000, 

Jacob’s Pickles

Jacob's Pickles

Jacob’s Pickles ends up shouldering much of the younger crowd on the Upper West Side late at night. That may be because it’s open so late, or because it’s one of the most dependably excellent spots for eating and drinking in the neighborhood. Regardless, if you’re looking for dessert, come for one of their rotating selections (we promise none of them will be pickle-flavored!). Right now they’re serving up deep-fried oreos, biscuit bread pudding, and half-baked chocolate chip cookie pie with ice cream. Jacob’s Pickles’ kitchen is open until 12:30 am Sunday through Tuesday, 1:30 am Wednesday, and 2am Thursday through Sunday. 509 Amsterdam Ave., 212-470-5566,

Milk Bar Midtown

You won’t be able to sit down at Milk Bar, but it won’t matter much once you taste cereal milk-flavored soft serve with corn flakes to top it off. This dessert empire (a Momofuku spinoff) has eight other locations throughout the city as well. You can have your Compost Cookie, birthday cake, or crack pie shake anytime before midnight from Thursday to Saturday. If you want your fix Sunday through Wednesday, come before closing at 11pm. 15 W 56th St., 347-577-9504,

Petee’s Pie Company

Petee's Pie

A quaint pie shop on the raucous Lower East Side makes a pretty intriguing paradox. Come by Petee’s for undeniable slices of cherry, key lime, and black bottom almond chess pie. There aren’t many seats at the small counter, but you’ll devour your slice in no time, whether sitting or standing. Petee’s Pie Company is open till midnight Sunday through Thursday and till 1am Friday and Saturday. 61 Delancey St., 646-494-3630,

Pies ‘n Thighs

Williamsburg has plenty of late-night food, but a good dessert is hard to find. Unless you go to Pies ‘n Thighs, where you can—and will—have great pie. Go straight for the bourbon pecan, although the banana cream is no slouch either. Their donuts are also worth a try, whether it’s chocolate cake-flavored or filled with malted cream. Yum! If you’re craving Nashville hot chicken, Pies ‘n Thighs has a stellar version, also served late. Open till midnight every night. 166 S. 4th St., 347-529-6090,

Rice to Riches

If you’ve ever walked down Spring Street in Nolita, there’s a good chance you stepped inside Rice to Riches out of pure curiosity. From the wide, bubble-shaped window in front to the interior chock-full of cheeky signage, the place feels cut out of a cartoon from the future. Fittingly, the rice pudding flavors include Understanding Vanilla, Oreo-gasm, and Almond Shmalmond. Rice to Riches is open till 1pm Sunday through Thursday and 1am Friday and Saturday. 37 Spring St., 212-274-0008,

Serendipity 3

Serendipity 3

Brace yourself for a tureen of slushy chocolate wonder at the adorable Serendipity 3. The Frrrozen Hot Chocolate is famous for a reason: it’s perfectly textured and Ovaltine-sweet. Other over-the-top desserts include the Outrageous Banana Split, the Coward’s Portion (ouch!), and “Big Apple” Pie. Located in Midtown East near Bloomingdales, Serendipity is open till midnight Sunday through Thursday and 1am Friday and Saturday. 225 E 60th St., 212-838-3531,

Shake Shack

We barely need to sell you Shake Shack. This classic fast-food fare has had all the hype it could ever need. But just know that the Hell’s Kitchen location is open till midnight every night for you and your Chocolate Chocolate Cookie Dough concrete. You’re welcome. 691 8th Ave., 646-435-0135,

Uncle Boons

This Michelin-starred Thai spot in Nolita covers all its bases with sensational food and drink and a healthy dose of quirk. This is perfectly encapsulated in its signature dessert, the coconut sundae. Formidable in size and covered in peanuts and shredded coconut, this is definitely one to share and savor. Honorable mention for the French-toast-esque Milk Toast. Open till 11pm Monday through Thursday, midnight Friday and Saturday, and till 10pm Sunday. 7 Spring St., 646-370-6650,

Vini e Fritti

North of Madison Square park is the new wine bar Vini e Fritti by restaurateur extraordinaire Danny Meyer (he also helped start Shake Shack). The dessert menu is currently three items long, but one of them is a ricotta doughnut with bourbon-infused caramel. If that doesn’t get you in the door, we don’t know what will. The other two are a chocolate-mousse tartufo and frozen negroni pops, both exceptional as well. Vini e Fritti is open till 1am Sunday through Wednesday and till 2 m Thursday through Saturday. 30 E. 30th St., 212-651-3800,

Spot Dessert Bar

Spot Dessert Bar

A term like “seasonal dessert tapas” is a bit of a head-scratcher, but trust us when we say Spot Dessert Bar has it covered in the sweets department. Spot is best known for its Matcha Lava cake, which is sensational to look at and to eat, in addition to other innovative, Asian-inspired dishes. Take the Big Orange mousse (shaped like an orange stuck in pie crust) and the s’mores-like Cookie Camp in a tiny skillet. These desserts are best experienced with groups of friends, which will cut down on the total price and allow you to try several in one sitting. There are locations in the East Village, Midtown, and Flushing, Queens, all open till midnight or 1am every night of the week.

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About the Author

Merrill Lee Girardeau lives and writes in Brooklyn.

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