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19 best independent restaurant desserts

These sweet endings take the cake when it comes to presentation and innovation

As the grand finale of the meal, dessert is the last chance to impress your guests.

This year, we called on independent restaurants across the country to show us their best desserts, and some truly delicious — and theatrical — sweet endings were submitted. The editorial team at Restaurant Hospitality selected the winners.

We were looking for innovation, but the theme this year was certainly presentation.

We saw some really lovely platings, and some with interactive table presentation, like a red-velvet cheesecake “wrecking ball” that crashes through a candy glass table with delectable results. The smoking dome trend, so popular with cocktails, has also reached the dessert course to evoke a foggy night. And a black plate serves as night sky to a lemon gelato tartufo moon.

Winners also included some classic desserts, excellently executed and beautifully photographed, like Sticky Toffee Pudding, a gorgeous take on s’mores and several cheesecakes — deconstructed or disguised as a Swiss cheese wedge with an adorable mango mouse.

Here are 19 of the best desserts at independent restaurants across America.

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