We all have our favorite neighborhood ice cream shop, and for all intents and purposes, just about every ice cream shop is pretty darn good. The sweet smell of ice cream permeates the room and happy people patiently sample the goods until they find their favorite flavors. But what’s the absolute best ice cream parlor in the world? In order to assemble our annual ranking of the world’s 35 best ice cream parlors, we sorted through dozens, ranking them according to national and international acclaim, ingredients, originality, and the overall experience, and these are the three that came out on top.
#3 Fenocchio, Nice, France
This family-owned French parlor has been scooping up sweet treats since 1966. Serving some 59 ice cream flavors and 35 sorbets, Fenocchio caters to the ice cream connoisseur with all the classics, a bunch of expected inclusions (Nutella, M&M’s, coffee, caramel, chocolate coconut), and then some truly adventurous flavors like tomato-basil, beer, rice pudding, spice bread, cactus, and avocado. Fenocchio is so popular in France, and with tourists, that it now operates two successful stores in Nice’s old town.
#2 Bar Gelateria Ercole, Pizzo, Italy
Nowhere else can you find tartufo made like it is at Bar Gelateria Ercole — arguably the best ice cream parlor in this Calabrian town famous for its ice cream. If you’ve never experienced this delightful dessert before, it’s a spoonful of fudge (or other filling, like fruit) wrapped in ice cream or gelato, rolled in cocoa powder and sugar, and battered to create a gooey, chocolaty treat. It’s kind of like those Ben & Jerry’s core flavors, except fresher, more authentic, and more Italian. Plus it has a much longer history, having been invented around 1952. Ercole? It’s been in business since 1965, which means 51 solid years of practice.
#1 Bi-Rite Creamery, San Francisco
Whether it’s brownies, peanut brittle, marshmallows, or snickerdoodles, Bi-Rite Creamery makes everything that goes into its ice cream — which is handmade on-site in small batches using organic, local ingredients. At this San Francisco staple, ice cream comes in sandwiches, cakes, pies, and sundae form, with flavors that change with the seasons and by the day. Notable varieties include black sesame with Sonoma honey, cheesecake with blueberry swirl, vegan strawberry coconut, roasted banana, and spicy hot chocolate with fudge and marshmallow. Be sure to decide before you get up to the counter; the line behind you is probably stretching around the block.
Click here for the full ranking. Additional reportnig by Matt Sulem.