Where to Get Great Ice Cream from Coast to Coast
Photo By: Essdras M Suarez ©Essdras M Suarez/ EMS Photography
Photo By: Emily Hart Photography
Photo By: Donny Tsang
We All Scream for...
Ice cream is just the beginning. A new generation of inspired artisans is whipping up silky gelatos, creamy sorbets — even soft-serve creations — with the dedication to fresh ingredients of five-star chefs. Whether you like yours in a cone, cup or piled high in a sundae, there's no happier food for a hot summer's day. Here's where to get the sweetest scoops across the country.
Atlanta: Morelli's Gourmet Ice Cream
Locals flock to this mom and pop mini chain for its smooth, made-from-scratch offerings served in waffle cones still warm from the press. Though varieties like Chocolate Peanut Butter are steady crowd-pleasers, the real draw here is the inventive flavors: Sweet Corn, Coconut Jalapeño and Krispy Kreamier. Got kids in tow? Order up a Dirt 'n' Worms sundae made with a scoop of vanilla, Oreo cookies and gummy worms.
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Boston: Toscanini's Ice Cream
There's often a line at this Central Square institution, but that's a good thing, as you'll need the time to get a handle on the gourmet tastes on offer. Choose from Cocoa Pudding, a pure French Vanilla or a kicky Ginger Snap Molasses, among the dozens of varieties in rotation. Samples of the pillowy-soft blends are given generously. Word up: The Burnt Caramel is a favorite with the neighborhood Harvard and MIT crowd.
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Chicago: Black Dog Gelato
The Whiskey Gelato Bar is the way to go at this pair of charming Windy City sweet shops. Dipped in milk chocolate, then rolled in salty bits of bacon, the grown-up treat is a liquor-infused flavor bomb. Owner Jessie Oloroso got her start selling at a farmers market, and fresh herbs and seasonal produce are the building blocks of many of her creations. Exhibit A: The delectable Sesame Fig Chocolate Chip gelato.
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This Ohio treasure hit the national stage when Oprah declared it her scoop of choice more than a decade ago. And it's no wonder: This family-run operation turns out French-style ice cream in an array of classic flavors. Aficionados swear by the amped-up varieties, such as Black Raspberry Chip and Buckeye Blitz (made with peanut butter cookie dough and chocolate chips), citing the high chip-to-ice-cream ratio.
More About: Graeter's
Columbus, Ohio: Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream
Jeni Britton Bauer's ice cream is (thankfully!) available by the carton in gourmet shops around the country, but nothing beats the experience of a fresh cone at one of her three Columbus shops. From The Milkiest Chocolate in the World ice cream to Cherry Lambic sorbet, the silky texture of her seasonally inspired selections continues to wow. The secret? Milk from grassfed cows and locally sourced ingredients.
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Dallas: Sweet Firefly
At this neighborhood spot, the friendliness of the owners earns almost as many raves as the homemade ice creams. Order a scoop of the signature Coffee Toffee Crunch or a New Orleans-style SnoBall (shaved ice, ice cream and condensed milk with flavorings like Bubble Gum and Granny Smith). The little ones will be entertained by the chalkboard and shelves filled with jars of old-fashioned penny candy.
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Denver: Little Man Ice Cream
Housed in a 28-foot steel replica of an old-fashioned milk can, this local favorite is hard to miss. Even in January, the devoted come out for their fix of artisanal-style ice cream made with ingredients sourced from surrounding farms. And you can order that double dip without guilt because for every scoop of ice cream sold, Little Man promises to donate a scoop of rice or beans to a village in a developing country.
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Detroit: Guernsey Farms Dairy
Battered onion rings, homemade soup and roasted chicken are all on the menu at this family-run institution, but the star attraction is the supremely fresh ice cream. Made onsite in the dairy's processing plant, the chilled treat comes in 48 flavors, both classic (Mint Chip, Praline Pecan) and new (Grandpa's Blueberry Way, a lip-smacking mélange of blueberries, pomegranate and chocolate chips).
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Los Angeles: Sweet Rose Creamery
The SRC Bacon Caramel Sundae is a gorgeous sight to behold: Picture snowy mounds of vanilla ice cream, fresh organic whipped cream, a glistening drizzle of Bourbon-Bacon Caramel Sauce and a cap of candied bacon strips. For more modest appetites, Executive Chef Shiho Yoshikawa whips up seasonal scoops of Rose Geranium with Raspberry Ripple ice cream, and Olive Oil and Strawberry Rhubarb sorbet.
Miami: The Frieze Ice Cream Factory
People-watching in South Beach can't be topped, and there's no better way to do it than by strolling Lincoln Road — preferable with a cool treat from Frieze in your hand. Located just off the main strip, this dessert nirvana offers a variety of smooth ice creams, though locals swear the seasonal sorbets are the standouts. Top picks include the refreshing Watermelon, elegant Champagne and fragrant Lychee.
More About: The Frieze Ice Cream Factory
New York: Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
Stepping into this new wave soft-serve shop is like walking into a party: dance music blaring while the crowd compares notes on the tongue-in-cheek menu. First-timers are directed to the Salty Pimp, a dulce de leche-coated vanilla cone sprinkled with salt and chocolate. The more experienced choose from rotating flavors and toppings like Wasabi Pea Dust, Ginger Syrup and Awesomesauce, a cayenne-spiced fudge.
Philadelphia: Capogiro Gelato Artisans
Capogiro means "dizziness" in Italian, and that's what this flavorful gelato has been inducing in fans for more than a decade. Made fresh every morning, the rotating selection of 27 flavors is keyed to the seasons — think Lancaster County Peach in summer, rich Black Walnut in the fall. And if you can't get the thought of that Wildflower Honey Gelato out of your head, no worries: The owners ship overnight to all 50 states.
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How do you improve on the Peanut Butter and Chocolate ice creams at this cute, vintage-style candy shop? Order a scoop of each on a crunchy, salt-specked pretzel cone! And if the Arizona sun has got you parched, ask for a Caramel Apple Pie Float. Made with vanilla ice cream, cinnamon sugar, homemade salted caramel and apple soda, it's sure to hit the spot.
More About: Churn
San Francisco: Bi-Rite Creamery
First the good news: The rich, custardy ice cream at Bi-Rite will be among the best you'll taste in your lifetime. Now the bad news: Lines can last up to an hour. Do not be discouraged. The dense, creamy and complex Salted Caramel — one of the company's best flavors — is worth the wait. Other winners on the ever-changing roster of flavors: Toasted Coconut, Cara Cara Orange Cardamom and Malted Vanilla.
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St. Louis: Ted Drewes Frozen Custard
There are many items on the menu, but there's only one thing to order, and that's the legendary Concrete. Made of silky vanilla custard (which has less air and more butterfat than conventional ice cream), this Midwestern specialty is mixed with toppings into an extremely thick shake. When servers hand you an order, they'll turn the cup upside down to prove your spoon and straw are firmly stuck inside.
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St. Paul: Izzy's Ice Cream Cafe
Call it an ice cream shop for the digital age: Every time a new flavor is added at this Twin Cities magnet, the information is sent out via Twitter and email. From Peace Coffee to Blackberry Crème Fraîche, the dozens of varieties are downright irresistible. Happily, you don’t have to choose just one: Owner Jeff Sommers tops each cone with an extra mini-scoop—called an "Izzy"— in a second flavor of your choice.
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Washington, D.C.: Moorenko's Ice Cream Cafe
There's plenty of seating at this cheery suburban parlor, which is lucky, because you'll want to stop and savor every delicious spoonful of these artisanal blends. Honey Lavender, Red Hot Chocolate, Peach Melba, Rice Pudding — the flavors may change with the seasons, but the quality of these luscious desserts remains consistent.
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