6 at 110th St.
If you aren’t watching out for La Tropizienne, you’ll likely pass right by the low-profile French bakery that has since 1991 provided honest, cream- and butter-packed sustenance to El Barrio—a neighborhood better known for its churros than for its crème brulee. The small shop doesn’t attract those who may live closer to, say, Payard, Balthazar, or City Bakery, but locals are loyal, chatting over coffee, croissants, and buttered baguettes at the few tables or lining up at the counter for financiers and brioche. Though French pastries often imply swank, here both the prices and the space—rickety tables, brickface walls—are modest. There are myriad breads, sandwiches, and cookies, spanning French classics (boule, pain bagnat, langues de chat) and home-town favorites (poppy rolls, roast beef sandwiches, rugelach). A few daily hot dishes round out the savory menu. But the tarts and cakes are the heart of the bakery’s oeuvre: superior tart au citron and the shop’s namesake cake, la Tropezienne, a split and sugared brioche sandwiching rum-spiked custard. This cake, like the others, is available in several sizes, cookies are customizable, and silver dollar-sized mini-tarts are perfect for a party.