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10 best desserts from independent restaurants

Straightforward preparations and dramatic presentations are the order of the day

Desserts are the highlight of a meal for many diners, and for restaurant operators they’re often the most profitable food. It’s a happiness-inspiring combination and we’d like to see more of it.

So we asked independent operators from across the country to show us their best finales to their meals, and we also invited ice cream and pastry experts to join in the fun.

The results are some eye-popping and grumbling-stomach-inducing creations that we hope will inspire all operators to find new ways to make sure their guests leave happy.

Many of the winners this year offered treats meant to evoke nostalgia, such as the Icebox S’mores at The Rustic, or the Milk & Cookies Mini Cake at Sift Dessert Bar.

Others are riffs on classics, such as the Salty Donut’s White Chocolate Tres Leches Doughnut, or they make a standard recipe local, such as the Peach Bourbon Bread Pudding at The Yardery or the Huckleberry Cheesecake at Cosmic Cowboy Grill.

Some are elegant, like the Stonefruit del Monferrato at Terzo, or the Olive Oil Cake at The Albert, and some are just fun, like the Oreo Volcano at The Lobster Boat Restaurant.

Take a look at the winners of our annual Best Desserts contest.


Correction: April 21, 2023
This gallery has been updated with the correct location of The Lobster Boat Restaurant, which is Merrimack, N.H.,
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