By Alex Schandlbauer
It used to be that when I thought about “instagrammable” NYC food, all I thought of was form-over-function, overpriced, and under portioned dishes that make a well-lit pic from an influencer the best way to enjoy them. If all of this seems unappealing, book a Ram Van (a day in advance!) and head over to Levain Bakery legitimately as soon as possible.
Their signature sweets are the five types of a crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside BEHEMOTH of a cookie. Think of a hockey puck with a fudgier center. Service is whip-fast, they’re 4 bones a pop and, if you get lucky, you’ll get there when they’re fresh (though using a microwave or oven to reheat them is almost as good).
I could try and fail to pretentiously describe the decadence of these cookies and use a bunch of big words for no reason other than to sound smart, but that’s not what I’m here for. Levain Bakery doesn’t require a complex explanation for me to tell you it’s good. Ask anyone who’s ever been, and you’ll never get a negative review.
The different types of cookies are all great; I’ve even heard oatmeal raisin is pretty good. The classic chocolate-chip walnut is an easy choice, with a 2-chip chocolate chip variant for those with nut allergies. The dark chocolate chocolate-chip is an actual hazard when it’s hot, in the best possible way. Each flavor has its own niche, but the dark chocolate peanut butter chip cookies are like the invasive species in the ecosystem of my digestive system. They have no right to be as rich as they are. No judgment or weird looks are shot towards anyone who feels the need to moan or cry after their first bite (even if it’s their eighth first bite), and sharing them with friends almost brings me more joy than getting them myself because everyone gets to have their own “Eureka!” moment when they have their first “Levain’s.”
Their website (levainbakery.com) might be sappy, with the goal set as “World Peace, one cookie at a time,” but honestly, I could believe it. The only things they lack right now is a dairy-free option and stranglehold on world politics.
To get into the rating, It’s gonna be pretty shallow for now, with semi-arbitrary numbers for some useful categories since people like the “too long; didn’t read” at the end of stuff like this.
Not much further than a hop, skip, and a jump from the LC Ram Van stop. The 15-minute walk (give or take a few traffic signals) is more than worth it.
Once you arrive, even if the line is out the door, you won’t be waiting much longer. Transactions are super snappy, and you’ll have your cookies, breads, drinks, etc. in a jiffy. I want to make a joke about how telling too many people about the place will change this, but I’m actually too confident in how quick they are. Just try to go at least an hour or so before closing, so you’re guaranteed the flavor you want!
Their cookies aren’t super cheap, but won’t break the bank, especially for how much food is in just one of these things. I’ve never regretted shelling out the $4 in exchange for a better day. If you have friends in DC, they’re even doing a promotion right now where you can send them a postcard that’s also a coupon for a free cookie, no strings attached! (Don’t tell anyone.)
Unsurprisingly, the all-satisfying, fudgy-crispy, portable chocolate bombs are to die for. I would venture to say that if you have not upturned a boiling hot Levain cookie onto a scoop of ice cream, you have not truly lived. Adieu.
Thanks for reading, and eat well. 🙂