Gothamist, a site I genuinely really like and would not normally drag, recently published a round-up of their staff’s favorite spots to grab ice cream in NYC. I was made aware of this because some fervent ice cream enthusiast friends of mine (shout-out Leila and Brian) were in an uproar about it on social media. There are some excellent choices included in the article, including Ice and Vice, Big Gay Ice Cream and Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. But then…then they had the audacity to include Ben & Jerry’s. Baskin-Robbins. Carvel. SNICKERS ICE CREAM BARS, FFS. Seriously, guys?
In all fairness, the article was not titled “The Best Ice Cream Shops In NYC”; it says, verbatim, “Gothamist Staff Picks: Our Favorite Ice Cream To Buy In NYC”, and I’m not here to tell anyone how to live their best, frostiest life. (Carvel Crunchies are indeed the work of God.) But this city is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to ice cream purveyors, and it does boil the blood a little bit to see them overshadowed by subpar, non-location-specific picks that I’d personally only feature in a Sad Girl Taste Test. So I am going to give you the lowdown on my favorite spots to snag a scoop here in ye olde Big Apple (not including the aforementioned Ice and Vice, Big Gay Ice Cream or Chinatown Ice Cream Factory to avoid stating the obvious) that are, in my opinion, far more worthy of a mention than Cookie Puss.
I have been an OddFellows stan since the day they opened their doors in Williamsburg. I simply could not (and still can’t) get enough of their inventive, frequently rotating flavors. (Back in those days, they were serving up a life-changing cornbread flavor that still frequents my dreams.) Now, the brand has quadrupled its locations (with one more coming to Bushwick #SOON), and the newest one in DUMBO features a flippin’ happy hour with beer, wine AND cider! You can create the boozy float of your dreams! If you like to plan ahead, you can call your shop of choice to suss out which flavors are available on any given day, but personally, I think it’s more fun to be surprised. (I have not once been let down, because with this caliber of deliciousness, the odds are ever in your flavor.)
I would be willing to bet all (or at least most) of you have heard of Morgenstern’s, in part because its King Kong Banana Split was featured in Master of None. In my opinion, the KKBS is the crown jewel, and it’s something I have treated myself to on special occasions, like birthday breakfasts. But not every day merits such extravagance, so rest assured that their extensive selection of sophisticated flavors (from Burnt Sage to Blueberry Milk Chocolate) will suit a run-of-the-mill scoop craving and make it fancy as an added bonus. (Also, ten points for ambiance. I am very here for the classic vibes.)
Ample Hills fittingly has ample locations across the city (and beyond, if you happen to be in Los Angeles and/or Orlando), making it one of the most conveniently ubiquitous spots on this list. And while we’re on the subject of ample, let’s talk about their extensive list of fun flavors! From Breakfast Trash (Cap’n Crunch, Frosted Flakes and Corn Pops-infused ice cream mixed with Fruity Pebbles and Froot Loops) to It Came From Gowanus (a delicious homage to the notoriously polluted waterway ft. salty dark chocolate ice cream mixed with orange-scented brownies, hazelnut crack’d cookies and white chocolate pearls), this is a place that embodies cravable quirkiness.
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It’s #NationalIceCreamDay and you know what that means: the first day of the #TourdeHills! Watch former Hillionaires @blakebakkila & @lauren_goldstein take on the challenge in our instastory today! Only true ice cream lovers would brave the heat for the challenge! To pick up your passport, follow the link in our bio. Tour de Hills runs through Labor Day!
BE STILL MY (B)EATING HEART! Brooklyn Farmacy is, quite possibly, the best place to sit down to a sundae or ice cream soda in ALL THE DAMN LAND! “Special” is the main word that comes to mind here, though runners up include “sparkly”, “nostalgic”, “warm” (ironically) and “PURE JOY”. It just feels like getting a hug when you go in there and order something off the ultra-fun menu; I am personally reminded of trips to the pharmacy/soda shop with my grandma and great aunt when I was a kid, and we would all sit at the counter and order glass dishes of chocolate ice cream with marshmallow sauce. (Oh my god I’m actually tearing up a little bit, SHUT UP! Basically just go if you haven’t. It’s 110% magical.)
The thing I like best about Van Leeuwen is that it’s a place where vegans and non-vegans can come together in ice cream-fueled harmony. There are menu options to suit pretty much any dietary restriction (unless you’re allergic to cashews/coconuts and also vegan, in which case insert womp womp sound here) or lack thereof, not to mention everything (vegan or non) is PRETTY DELICIOUS. You’ll find them all around the city in brick and mortars and in trucks, so if you need a peacemaker to settle down feuding Meat Is Murder vs. Baconator camps, then this is your best (and most yum) bet.
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Now scooping: hump day treats in all shapes & sizes. Come say 🍦👋🍦👋 // 📸 @justin.time.to.dine #humpday #wednesday #iceccream #veganicecream #treatyoself #dessert #sweettooth #madefromscratch #madeinbrooklyn #housemade #housemadeeverything #handmade #foodie #eeeeeats #yum #feedfeed #foodporn #yummy #vegan #selfcare #delicious #treats #food #treatyourself #foodgasm #foodstagram #goodeats #relax #vanleeuwen #vanleeuwenicecream
But maybe you just want to eat some ice cream with your dog! (WHO DOESN’T?!) In which case get to Bushwick, where Ollie’s Ice Cream + Stuff just recently opened its doors; They’ve got ice cream flavors available for people AND for dogs, so you can both beat the heat with a nice cold treat. (Yes, I meant for that to rhyme intensely and I AM SORRY ABOUT IT.) They’re closed Mondays, but are open 2-10pm Tuesday thru Friday, and noon to 10pm on Saturdays and Sundays, so swing on by with your main good boy soon!
HONORABLE MENTION – Soft Swerve
Soft serve is a whole separate beast, in my opinion, but I do think Soft Swerve deserves a shout-out before we wrap up. The menu will not be for everyone (Ube Purple Yam, Vegan Pineapple, Hong Kong Milk Tea and Black Sesame), but holy heck SO GOOD IF YOU’RE INTO THOSE VIBES. I am personally a fan of going full goth (Black Sesame in a Black Chocolate cone), but any/all combinations are worth your consideration. Loads of great toppings (including mochi, condensed milk and Fruity Pebbles) to customize your cone (or dish), so get creative! (Also take advantage of the free samples while “deciding”.)
Has my list outraged you in a way that echoes my initial ice cream indignation? Please tell me all about it in the comments, and/or tweet to @BYTNYC! I WANT THE SCOOP ON SCOOPS, LET’S KEEP THIS DIALOGUE GOING!