This post originally appeared in the July 1, 2019 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move. Subscribe now.
If you’re as obsessed with John Mulaney as I am, you’re probably familiar with how the “Stranger Danger” bit from his Netflix special, Kid Gorgeous, ends: If a kidnapper takes you to another location, your odds of coming back alive are slim to none. This buildup is what makes Mulaney’s next line so great — “if I’m at a place, I never want to go to another place” — and includes very specific examples like post-wedding reception drinks at the hotel bar (“Nah, nah, sister. You’re not getting me to no secondary location”).
Unlike Mulaney, I’m not terrified of secondary locations. I love to go out to dinner — but when I do, I skip eating dessert at the restaurant. Not because I have a non-existent sweet tooth (to the contrary, as you’re about to find out), but instead, because I see the post-dinner time as an opportunity to try something else. The move is: Go to a secondary location, just for dessert.
A lot of restaurant dessert menus are afterthoughts. Most mid-range restaurants have dessert menus that are overly familiar at best (crème brûlée or carrot cake) or just bad at worst. The most obvious solve achieved by this move is refusing to settle for less when you can plan a separate dessert stop into the meal itself.
The secondary dessert stop gives me an opportunity to walk to a bakery (or another restaurant with a better dessert menu) and try something completely different from the meal I just consumed. I recently went to Nom Wah Nolita with my roommate and after we worked our way through a tray of scallion pancakes, Chinese greens, and pork dumplings, I suggested we take a walk to Petee’s Pie, a place near and dear to my heart — and one of Eater NY’s top pie destinations — to try their seasonal fruit pies. While Nom Wah offers one of my favorite desserts, the red bean bun, I didn’t want something similar to our meal. I wanted to mix it up, taste a totally different set of flavors that would signal a different experience entirely.
But the main reason to eat dessert at a secondary location is fueled by my desire to enjoy this big and beautiful city, which is full of endless places to eat and add to your CBDH (“come back and dine here”) list. Dining out is kind of like a game to me. And by the end of the night, a secondary dessert means you’ve not only enjoyed a great meal at a restaurant, you’ve given yourself the chance to knock a new place off your list, including ice cream parlors, bakeries, and other places where “dessert” is something that’s not necessarily plated.
Dessert at a secondary location makes me feel accomplished — like a seasoned diner, like someone who’s maximized the opportunity to make a choice. So do yourself a favor: Next time you’re dining out, ask for the check and then take yourself somewhere else for dessert. Because there’s nothing sweeter than the idea of dessert-eating as an accomplishment, somewhere different from where you ate dinner. — Esra Erol