Do you want to try the best babka in the world? Breads Bakery in Union Square is wrecking it. They have put this traditional sweet Jewish bread on the map and on the radar for New Yorkers- for Jew and non Jews and for those not just during the high holidays (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur). This loaf is flaky, melty, crunchy and coated with rich chocolate layers and chocolate chunks. You could spend all day slicing off a little sliver, but lets face it, you will keep coming back for more. It’s addicting and truly miraculous- not dry and just the right amount of chocolate. I will say it makes for a great gift for a dinner party or during the Jewish holidays and everyone will remember what you brought. However, don’t stop at the babka.
Breads Bakery may look like a tiny little storefront that is overflowing with different kinds of cookies, pastries, rolls, croissants, breads, brownies, but make sure you wander on towards the back where you can order pizza breads, sandwiches, ready to-go salads and the best part is to be able to see the “bread factory.” You can see the bakers making your bread fresh and coming straight from the oven to the shelves for sale. Most pastry chefs and bakeries I’ve discovered come into work and start prepping in the wee hours of the morning, but here they only arrive at 6 a.m. so that everything is as fresh as can be and delivered to your mouth just seconds after it has been made. The owners are from Israel and so kind. They really have some great work to be proud of. During the holidays,they always have specials. Right now they are offering a special Hanukkah donut with jelly (sufganlyot) and some Thanksgiving apple and pumpkin pies.
The chocolate chip cookie has just enough chocolate chunks to my liking. It’s soft but more crispier than gooey. If I was in need of a cookie in the Union Square/Flatiron neighborhood (which I obviously regularly am since it’s near my office), then I would definitely pick one up from here- maybe even heat it up a bit to melt it. It’s much more satisfying than City Bakery’s – although I recently discovered their Vegan chocolate chip cookie is better than the regular one. The Almond Croissant here is also delicious. It’s not too sweet or overpowering and I like that the bread part is thinner and proportionate with the almond filling. The cheese sticks are ok and more for those savory lovers- I’ll stick to chocolate. However, the pizza that can be found in the back is melted gruyere with another kind of cheese and roasted tomatoes on top of a baguette. This isn’t traditional American style pizza with sauce or crust, it’s basically cheesy bread, and you should get it.
I love Breads Bakery because it doesn’t feel commercial because they are making so many different traditional and cultural products that change seasonally so it feels like home and authentic. It’s a great place in the neighborhood to meet for a morning coffee meeting or a quick lunch when you are on the go, or for me an afternoon sweet treat. Babka or Bust.