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Best Ice Cream Shops in NYC

Get the scoop on where to find great cones, shakes, sundaes and beyond in New York City.

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Mikey Likes it Ice Cream

This retro ice cream parlor has a sweeter story than most. Several years after Mike Cole was released from prison, an aunt he was close to passed away. As Cole cleaned out her apartment, he stumbled upon her recipe for homemade vanilla ice cream, and a business idea was born. Cole learned the trade and began whipping up hip-hop-inspired flavors including a riff on dulce de leche with Jay Z’s D’Usse cognac that ended up on the menu at the mogul’s 40/40 Club. Cole has since opened his own shop, to high praise. Creative flavors like Foxy Brown (mocha with crushed chocolate wafer cookies and sea salt caramel swirl) are served in cups, cones and chewy waffle sandwiches.

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Momofuku Milk Bar

Cereal Milk may seem as common as chocolate or vanilla these days. For that, you can thank Momofuku Milk Bar founder Christina Tosi. The winner of multiple James Beard Awards debuted Cereal Milk soft serve when she opened her first bakery in 2008. (She now boasts nine locations in NYC alone.) Essentially, the brew combines corn flakes and brown sugar steeped in milk, strained and poured into a soft serve machine with a pinch of salt. The frozen concoction comes out slightly tangy, a little icy and tastes remarkably similar to the leftover milk at the bottom of a bowl of cornflakes. It’s served in a cup with a sweet and flaky cornflake crunch topping.

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This Brooklyn-based ice cream shop does the artisanally minded borough proud, with locally sourced hormone- and additive-free ice cream that is pasteurized in-house. The Williamsburg flagship offers 12 flavors of ice cream and sorbet as well as a selection of banana splits, sundaes — particularly excellent with Mast Brothers hot fudge or the signature Salted Caramel — an ice cream sandwich and the Cotton Candy Cone. Choices range from time-honored Tahitian vanilla, strawberry and Neapolitan to innovative, exotic choices like Cornbread, Miso-Cherry, Foie Gras and Maple-Bacon-Pecan. The new East Village storefront is slightly smaller, with eight alternating ice creams and sorbets.

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Photo: Alan Gastelum ©

Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream

This Lower East Side shop has brought the traditional ice cream parlor into the 21st century. A classically trained pastry chef and successful restaurateur, Nick Morgenstern highlights variations on individual flavors. Though simple Madagascar vanilla is available, the flavor appears elsewhere on the menu paired with bourbon, burnt honey, apple brandy, angel food or peppermint. Chocolate can be scooped as regular, bitter, salted or spiced with Szechuan peppercorns. Straying from the classic bases, Salt-and-Pepper Pine Nut and Fernet-Black Walnut are wholly inventive and refreshing. Go for a simple scoop or try the Salted Caramel Pretzel, a heaping pile of salted caramel ice cream mixed with caramel cakes and pretzel crunch, topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce.

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