Stopping to Smell the Roses: Profiles of New York City Bakeries

An exploration of bakeries around New York City, as recommended by Bronx Science students.


Arianne Browne

Fay Da offers a wide selection of not only East Asian desserts, but also interesting takes on your classic birthday cake! Arifa Tasmiya ’22 said she got a mango mousse cake for her birthday not too long ago. “The cake itself was very beautiful. It was orange on top with a cream colored mousse in between layers of vanilla cake, which was very light and creamy. The topmost layer was a chewy mango flavored gelatin based layer. The top was decorated with strawberries and blueberries.” This cake is pictured here. It’s the third cake from the left on the top row.

Living life at 100 miles an hour takes away from the beautiful little moments that make it so wonderful. As many of us at Bronx Science know, this city never sleeps, and neither do we, so it can feel truly impossible to slow down. But, I think it is time for us to stop and smell the roses  — to appreciate the nuance and joy that a simple moment might give us. The roses in question are little “hole-in-the-wall” shops with rich and indulgent histories. 

The calm, warm, and inviting backdrop of a bakery is one of my favorite atmospheres to experience. It is almost as if the chaos and hurriedness of life come to a halt being blanketed by the smell of hot coffee and sugary pastries. I hardly notice how much time flies by while I sit and take in the almost intoxicating ambiance. 

It might seem almost foreign for us to “waste time,” to linger for a minute in a bakery when there are seemingly more important pastimes for us to take part in. However, simply existing for a moment in time, being absolutely present and temporarily free from our external, perpetually hectic lives, is the most important part of being alive. It is far too easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of life – getting caught up in working towards the future – without taking a minute to stop and smell the roses around you. I am all too guilty of allowing myself to get trapped in the rapids of my mind and losing track of all the wonderful things life has to offer. 

Going to a bakery and eating something you love while being surrounded by the inaction of it all is like a benign, gentle reminder to come back to the present. The duality and welcoming nature of a bakery can allow us to actively participate in our lives and show up for ourselves better. We can both work in the ambience and anonymity of a crowded little bakery, while also taking a second to admire all the sensations around us. Perhaps this warmth can exist as both a necessary part of our lives while simultaneously providing us an escape from the monotony and stress of it. 

And, while this piece serves as something of a “Yelp review” of some amazing bakeries in and around our city, I hope it also reminds you all to take a moment to pause and appreciate the beauty around you.

La Boulangerie

One of my favorite bakeries is La Boulangerie, an artisanal bakery in Forest Hills, Queens. Despite its small size, La Boulangerie offers a wide range of baked goods, including fresh-baked breads and pastries as well as a variety of French desserts and sandwiches. Raisa Barshai ’22 said, “Everything is always fresh, and it feels fancy.” One of my favorite aspects of this bakery is the big communal table in the center, in front of the counter where customers can sit and eat and talk amongst each other. There are even board games to play with your friends or anyone else around you, and children’s books to read as well. The ambience is perfect if you love to be surrounded by warm voices and laughter, and the smell of sweet tarts and coffee. This bakery is perfect for just about anyone, as it offers both sweet and savory dishes, and it is perfect for  people-watchers and socialites alike.

Shormi Anwar and her family love going to Buttercooky Bakery because of both the quality of baked goods they offer, and the hospitality of the workers there. “The staff members are very upbeat and are always happy to help. Being very indecisive myself, I appreciate it every time that they tell me their favorite cake flavor or pastry so I can enjoy it, too.” (Shormi Anwar ’22)

Buttercooky Bakery

This is a little family-owned bakery that opened around fifty years ago. While my family typically goes to the one in Floral Park, Buttercooky has two other stores in Manhasset and Huntington (and while these stores are all the way in Long Island, they are definitely worth the trip). It is one of the most beautiful stores I have ever been to, and Shormi Anwar ’24 agrees, adding that “Buttercooky reminds me of the cozy, holiday season because of how the interior is decorated.” They also offer a wide selection of everyone’s favorite flavors – custom cakes made to order, mousses, fruit tarts, cannolis, and even eclairs. Upon walking in, you are immediately surrounded by people crowding around the display cases asking the workers to box them up a little piece of everything! Anwar went on to note, “as for the taste of the desserts, I love it. My family used to love Martha’s Country Bakery but after discovering Buttercooky’s light yet at the same time rich taste, that’s all we’ve been eating.”

Martha’s Country Bakery

Are you even from New York if you have never heard of Martha’s? The reputation of this bakery truly precedes itself, especially amongst Bronx Science kids who have more than recommended it to me! And while I have not had the pleasure of going here myself, I can see why it has become so popular among my peers. The freshness and convenience in location of this bakery might just have something to do with that, although some Bronx Science students have traveled from all over the city just to have their cakes and other sweet treats. Henry Bega ’22 describes the bakery as being a “quiet, dimly lit environment” which only adds to the welcoming atmosphere of the shop. “The food itself is very good, always tasting fresh. Their pastries – like the ham and cheese pie and feta cheese pie – are very nice. Great cheesecake, and great cakes like classic vanilla,” said Bega.

Fay Da Bakery

Another bakery in Queens is in Jackson Heights, right outside the Roosevelt Avenue train station, making it extremely convenient for many Bronx Science students. Fay Da Bakery offers a wide array of baked goods including sweet raisin bread, cakes of all sorts, and even steamed buns. As I entered the bakery, I was greeted by a sweet aroma of cinnamon and sugar, and the voices of other shoppers gathering around the displays carried onto the sidewalk as the doors are left open on warmer days. The little cupboards of baked goods are lined up to your right as you walk in, and you can  see crowds gathered around trying to choose what to buy. There is a stand in the center that holds all kinds of breads, my favorite being the freshly baked cinnamon raisin bread. And directly in front of you are the workers, standing behind the cake counter, helping customers as quickly as possible. The selection of East Asian and American baked goods made choosing just one pastry the hardest part of going to Fay Da.

Sprinkles truly seems to be a Bronx Science favorite, with Arifa Tasmiya ’22 adding that, “it’s a quaint little store” where the workers are both “friendly and efficient.” (Arifa Tasmiya ’22)

Sprinkles New York

If you have ever walked from the 4 train station at 59th and Lexington to the F train on 63rd, you have definitely passed by this cupcake shop. To see the dimly lit displays of mesmerizing sweet treats leaves you in awe, and I am sad to say that I have never had the pleasure of experiencing one of them. But, Arifa Tasmiya ’22, who has been inside says, “the smell of freshly baked goods hits you as soon as you open the clear glass doors and enter this pink store of wonders.” This warm, sweet aroma is matched only by the hospitality of the workers who were both efficient and knowledgeable of the store’s menu. Tasmiya went on to add that “they serve the classic flavors we love like red velvet with cream cheese frosting, and fun new flavors like marshmallow and cinnamon. They also have inclusive flavors that are gluten and sugar free while still tasting delicious.” There truly is something here at Sprinkles for anyone looking for a sweet treat.


Sometimes, I wish I could fast forward through life and skip to the best parts. But the thing is that we do not know when our “best moments” will be until we are actually experiencing them, living them. I think that this is the first time in my life that I am able to say I lived authentically. What I mean is that I have lived so much of my life following the “story” I was given – following the routine and expectations set for me, as I am sure a lot of us here at Bronx Science are guilty of – and I was almost glad to have that structure in my life. I knew exactly what to do, the steps to follow, where to go, how to act. But now that I have become a young adult, I have the freedom, whether that is a blessing or not, to create my own plot and experience the beauty of life for myself instead of fulfilling the expectations of those around me.

That being said, I think it is important to treat every day like it is a special one, and treat yourself that way as well. And, while these bakeries are just little pit stops on our busy days, they offer us the comfort and safety of a breath of fresh air amid the smog of the city. 

New York City is a particularly unique metropolis, housing millions of people swept up in the hustle and bustle of the city. And while we are in the “city that never sleeps,” I think it is important for us to separate ourselves from such a mentality that whirls us into something we are not built to handle; pushing yourself to keep moving – juggling school, jobs, family life, a social life, and our own mental health – is like balancing a dozen porcelain plates on the end of a broomstick during a tornado. I hope reading this article gives you the peace of mind that just breathing is more than enough, and that taking a break is the self care we all need to partake in.

While these bakeries are just little pit stops on our busy days, they offer us the comfort and safety of a breath of fresh air amid the smog of the city.