The chocolate chip cookie is about as American as it gets.

Surprisingly, the cookie as we know it today didn’t exist until the 1930s, when a happy accident led Ruth Wakefield to create the recipe as she was preparing homemade goods for her guests at the Toll House Inn — the legacy of which lives on on the back of the Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels package.

Nowadays, there are countless variations on the classic — and we all have our favorites. Mine happens to be from City Bakery in Manhattan, a sizable, share-able cookie with a wonderful mix of crunch and softness. “There’s no ‘secret’ ingredient, per se,” said baker and City Bakery founder Maury Robin. “The cookie is all about the balance of sugar to all of the other ingredients. That’s the place where the fate of crunch and soft is determined.”

I got the scoop from local luminaries around the U.S. on the must-eat cookies in their cities.

Here they are, 10 chocolate chip cookies worth traveling for:

New Orleans, Louisiana: Emeril’s Delmonico
“I’m a chocolate nut and Emeril [Lagasse, the owner of Delmonico] adds a little lagniappe by making a cookie that’s a blend of semi-sweet, milk, dark, and white chocolate chips baked golden brown. He also uses brown sugar, plenty of salt, and local walnuts to give them a sweet-and-salty nutty flavor that’s the best in the city. They’re not too chewy, not too crunchy, but just right.” – David Teich, General Manager, Windsor Court Hotel

Vail, Colorado: Vail Gourmet Cookie Co.

Up close and personal at Levain Bakery. (Photograph by Robyn Lee, Flickr)

“Their chocolate chip cookie is called ‘The Summit’ and it’s more than a standard cookie. It’s made with brownies and all kinds of chocolate goodness. It’s a mountain take on the traditional favorite, truly an original. I love it because it’s a small family business and you can tell it’s made with good, quality ingredients.” – Chris Romer, President of Vail Valley Partnership (Cookies are custom order & available for delivery)

Los Angeles, California: Clementine
“For me, [Clementine makes] the perfect cookie, thin and crispy with just the right amount of chewiness to it.” – Stacey Sun, dineLA director of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board

New York, New York: Levain Bakery
“[Levain's] famed ‘Chocolate Chip Walnut’ cookie is bigger than my fist, with a crisp outside, and a chewy, almost brownie-like [consistency] inside. The chocolate chips are warm and gooey, and the walnuts add a satisfying crunch. I don’t even like walnuts! That’s how good this cookie is. The cookies are big enough to share, but I like to eat the whole thing myself, rationalizing that the hour-long walk home through Central Park cancels out a good deal of the calories.” – Courtney Sheinmel, author of the Stella Batts series for young readers

Chicago, Illinois: Specialty’s Cafe & Bakery
“The ‘Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunk’ cookies at Specialty’s Cafe & Bakery in the Loop are my all-time favorite chocolate chip cookies. They are so big and rich that it’s almost hard to eat the whole thing. The best part? You can go to the bakery’s website and check their ‘Warm Cookie Radar’ to find out when the next batch of cookies will be ready. How great is that?” – Jen Schefft Waterman, former Bachelorette, PR specialist

Orlando, Florida: Blue Bird Bake Shop

Inside the Blue Bird Bake Shop. (Photograph by Robyn Lee, Flickr)

“This adorable bakery in the Audubon Park neighborhood of Orlando specializes in cupcakes, but their chocolate chunk cookie is to die for. Everything in their bakery is baked from scratch daily and you can stay to enjoy your cookie with a cup of Seven Sisters Coffee, an Orlando-based fair-trade, organic coffee company. Call ahead, because the chocolate chunk cookie, which is soft and gooey in the middle, sometimes sells out.” – Kristin Harmel, best-selling author of Italian For Beginners and other novels

Phoenix, Arizona: Super Chunk
“Country Velador, the owner and baker of Super Chunk, makes these cookies with mesquite flour and a little nutmeg. The mesquite flour gives it a creamy, caramel flavor that accentuates the chocolate quite nicely. Nutmeg is faintly used providing the added nuance.” – Pavle Milic, co-owner of FnB Restaurant

Charleston, South Carolina: WildFlour Pastry
“Pop into Lauren Mitterer’s charmingly old-fashioned bakery, WildFlour Pastry, when you’re looking for Charleston’s best chocolate chip cookie. You can’t hold this four-inch beauty without chocolate melting on your fingers because it’s so loaded with Callebaut 66% chips. Buttery vanilla notes complement, but the finish is definitely haute dark.  Slightly chewy with a whisper of caramel in its crispy edge, this is chocolate chip cookie heaven.” – Marion Sullivan, Food Editor, Charleston Magazine

Hard at work at Cookie Love. (Photograph by Brent Harrwyn)

Santa Fe, New Mexico: Harry’s Road House
“Harry’s Road House is a local landmark here in Santa Fe and they make all of their own pastries and baked goods — the best of which is their chocolate chip cookie. It’s the only place where I pay for chocolate chip cookies because they’re that good, otherwise I would just bake them. They are the perfect size and consistency — crispy on the outside and soft on the inside — and go great with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk!” – Gloria Castillo, Concierge, Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi

Burlington, Vermont: Cookie Love
“The best chocolate chip cookie in our area is done by a very creative local business called Cookie Love. When Paul Seyler and his wife, Suzanna Miller, moved to Vermont from New York City they decided to do something entrepreneurial. From their shared love of good food, they decided to make and sell cookies, using high quality ingredients, local where possible. That was 2007 and they began at the Shelburne Farmers Market that summer. They quickly added local stores, and over time have broadened their products and their ways of reaching eager cookie lovers.” – Rosalyn Graham, Director of Community Relations, Shelburne Farms

I’m always on the hunt for new leads. Where can your favorite cookies be found in the U.S. and beyond?

Comments

  1. Escape Hunter
    International
    December 25, 2013, 6:43 am

    America really is a great place for “cookie travel”, but in Barcelona, Brussels and in Valencia I came across endless shops selling delicacies like macarons and brownies and who “knows whats”…
    In Europe it’s Belgium, Spain and Central European countries that offer the widest varieties of these delicacies…

  2. Hillary Olsen
    Provo, Utah
    December 13, 2013, 2:06 pm

    Aside from my mom’s yummy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, my all-time favorite chocolate chip cookies are the ones they serve at the DoubleTree Hotels. They are delicious: walnuts, a hint of cinnamon, ground oats, and gooey chocolate. I stayed in a DoubleTree in Chicago one time, and I couldn’t believe how many trips I was making down to the front desk each day to get more cookies!

    Hillary Olsen
    Stowaway Magazine (stowawaymag.com)

  3. SC
    Los Angeles
    November 25, 2013, 8:41 pm

    Uncle Biff’s cookies in San Diego is phenomenal!! Their killer cookie is a combination of all things rich and gooey. My favorite is the dark chocolate chip.

  4. Diana Carrillo
    Puebla, Mexico
    February 28, 2013, 11:18 am

    the cookies looks very delicious

  5. Donna Drury
    Loveland, Ohio
    February 18, 2013, 2:35 pm

    How about Blue Chip Cookies in Kenwood, OH, Loveland, OH or Leawood, KS…plus you don’t have to travel to taste we can ship them to you too! Voted Best Cookie in the City wherever we had a store. http://www.bluechipcookiesdirect.com. Come visit us.

  6. Christina
    Columbia, SC
    February 4, 2013, 4:37 pm

    Blue Flour bakery here in Columbia makes a chocolate chip cookie about the size of my face with crisp edges and an almost cake-like interior. Kudzu Bakery in my hometown of Georgetown, SC makes my favorite chewy chocolate chip cookie.

  7. PK
    NYC
    January 31, 2013, 11:08 pm

    You nailed it on the head with Levain in NYC! When I think about relocating outside of the city/state. I make a list of things I’ll dreadfully miss and Levain is one of them. I walked across the park, in 100 degree heat, with bad shoes just to get a cookie one day. That’s how good they are.

  8. Austin
    Dallas, TX
    January 31, 2013, 3:25 pm

    Great one cookie company in Dallas, Texas has THE BEST chocolate chip!! In highland park. Look them up online…literally amazing and ship nationwide
    http://www.greatonecookies.com

  9. Brotha Percy
    New York City
    January 31, 2013, 11:43 am

    Don’t forget Schmackery’s on 45th. St. in New York City. I love their Blueberry Cobbler Cookie.!!!

  10. ashley
    hyannis, MA
    January 31, 2013, 11:29 am

    chunky chocolate pecan salty oats cookies. incredible. the best cookie I have ever eaten hands down. kayakcookies.com

  11. Hannah
    Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
    January 28, 2013, 9:35 pm

    Last time the Bruins were in town (for a pre-season game) they had my Mom’s chocolate chip cookies ordered for their flight home… We don’t make them at the restaurant (because she won’t share the recipe!).

  12. Katie Coakley
    United States
    January 21, 2013, 12:06 pm

    I love Cow Chips cookies in Pioneer Square in Seattle (drop cookies–so chocolaty and gooey) and Mary’s Mountain Cookies in Breckenridge, CO.–the cookies weigh at least a pound and are amazing!

  13. Hailey
    Germany
    January 21, 2013, 7:03 am

    Tiff’s Treats in Austin, Dallas or Houston, TX (the original is in Austin). Amazing chocolate chip cookies.. And all other kinds, too! – and they deliver!

  14. Holly Hayes
    Portland, Oregon
    January 21, 2013, 1:04 am

    There’s a Ben’s Cookies in the Covered Market in Oxford as well (and several other UK locations). I haven’t tried them all, but I can vouch for the excellence of those in Oxford! In Portland, I recommend Saint Cupcake’s unique alder-smoked chocolate chip cookies.

  15. Kelsey Snell
    Washington, DC
    January 21, 2013, 12:03 am

    Ohh love this Annie! You’ve got to try the chocolate chip cookie from Birdbath Bakery in NYC. http://www.thecitybakery.com/birdbath

    When you do a best molasses-ginger cookie post, you let me know.

  16. Wanderlusters
    Auckland
    January 20, 2013, 9:08 pm

    Oooo Jonathan makes an excellent recommendation there, we used to live just up the road from South Ken station and walking past on the way home from work was deadly. My fav was the peanut butter flavour. Buying one is not an option, you must opt for the box of 6!

  17. Annie Fitzsimmons
    January 20, 2013, 6:14 pm

    Jonathan – I added it to my London list of to do’s. Thanks for the tip!

  18. Jonathan
    January 20, 2013, 10:55 am

    I know this list is restricted to U.S. locations, but if you’re ever in London, check out Ben’s Cookies at the South Kensington tube stop. Phenomenal stuff.

  19. bermaxo
    Las Palmas
    January 19, 2013, 2:08 pm

    que buena pinta tinen …huummm deben de estar muy buenos