A Watercolor Guide to Harlem's Hidden Bakeries

An artist chronicles the neighborhood's best sweet shops.

Quick -- what do you think of when you think about Harlem's most famous dining options? Soul food, probably (thanks in a large part to Sylvia's, a delicious restaurant on Lenox Ave.). But in addition to fried chicken, biscuits and collard greens, the neighborhood hosts quite the baked goods scene.

Artist Lynn Lieberman has been documenting the city's nooks and crannies for years. She has put together a picture essay of Harlem's bakeries in her medium of choice, watercolor. The images first ran on the excellent blog Untapped Cities. As she wrote there:

There are bakeries devoted to cookies, to cupcakes, croissants and breads, rugelach, red velvet, carrot cake, muffins and on and on. Here’s a tour of Harlem’s best bakeries.

Below, "portraits" of some of the neighborhood's vast variety of sweet shops:

Make My Cake (121 St. Nicholas Ave.) Lynn described it as "a confectioner’s dream bathed in a background of pink accessories." The main attraction here is cakes and cookies.

Lee Lee’s Baked Goods (283 W. 118 St.) Lee Lee's catch phrase is "rugelach by a brother," it ships its famous pastries all over the world. Lynn writes that she enjoys settling down and striking up "a conversation with the constant stream of locals who love to chat."

Patisserie Des Ambassades (2200 Frederick Douglass Blvd.) This French-Senegalese cafe is the place to go for bread and croissants.

Tonnie’s Minis (264 Malcolm X Blvd.) Design your own cupcakes, frosting and all, at Tonnie's. Her desserts have gotten so popular they are now sold in Bloomingdales.

About the Author

  • Amanda Erickson is a former senior associate editor at CityLab.