The jangle of music box melodies blaring from ice cream trucks heralds the start of summer in most parts of the world, but for The Daily Meal, it’s always ice cream season. In 2016, we scooped, spooned, and licked our way around the world to debut the World’s 35 Best Ice Cream Parlors and then went for a second helping in 2017 with World’s 35 Best Ice Cream Parlors, but now we’re back for another installment. We’ve expanded our list to 50 iconic ice cream and gelato makers, and we’re including ice cream parlors as well as scoop shops in the mix, offering up a triple scoop of the best ice creams (and gelatos) around the world.
Although first invented in the fourth or fifth century B.C., ice cream has existed in something close to its current form since the 1500s or 1600s in France, with recipes appearing in England in the 1700s. It was then that Thomas Jefferson first tried (and adored) it during a visit to Europe, and he is generally credited for its immense popularity in America. Although Jefferson is not believed to have actually introduced ice cream to the States, his cooks famously prepared it for him on a regular basis, and by serving it to his powerful guests he helped to make it trendy.
Determining who makes the best ice cream is serious business. The ice cream business in the U.S. contributes more than $39 billion to the national economy, according to the International Dairy Food Association. Due to ice cream’s storied history and our love of frozen treats and travel, we couldn’t possibly limit this list to only American ice cream shops (and American-style ice cream), so you’ll see Italian gelato (which is more dense than ice cream and has a slightly different recipe) and variations from several different countries around the world as well.
To compile the list, we turned to our talented team of travel and food editors, writers, and contributors who have traveled extensively, taste-testing ice cream in all corners of the world. We started with a list of 150 ice cream parlors and shops and whittled the list down via a scoring system that evaluated establishments based on six factors: recipe and preparation; ingredients (freshness, lack of additives, etc.); taste and texture; originality and creativity; ambiance, service, and experience; and acclaim (critical and overall popularity with locals and visitors alike). With the number of old school ice cream parlors dwindling and an increasing number of artisanal and experimental scoop shops opening, we expanded the judging criteria to scoop shops to allow for more establishments to be included.
Our list includes 50 ice cream purveyors in 18 countries and 41 cities. Half of the ice cream shops on the list are in the United States. Four of the original shops on our inaugural ice cream parlor list have shuttered: Vipiteno Gelateria in São Paulo, Brazil, 18 Smaker in Stockholm, Sweden, A.M. Scannapieco in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Tepoznieves in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
For the 50 who have made our list, we tip our spoons to these and all other ice cream makers who are striving to churn the best ice cream and gelato one scoop at a time. The future of ice cream creation is sweet, and we look forward to what’s next. In the meantime, we celebrate the World’s 50 Best Ice Cream Parlors.
The whimsical wonderland that is Namjatown, an amusement park inside a shopping mall in Tokyo is the location for what was once Ice Cream City (which made our list in 2017) and is now five dessert shops: a cake shop, a pancake shop, two crepe shops, and a gelato shop. Located inside an arcade, Da Luciano is where anime meets ice cream. There are hundreds of gelatos with an ever-changing line-up that has included ubiquitous green tea and red bean to the more adventurous miso ramen ice cream to the bizarre beef tongue. Note: admission to the park (¥500 for adults) is required in order to access Namjatown and Da Luciano.
Located in Devon House, the nineteenth-century former home of George Stiebel, Jamaica’s first black millionaire, the I-Scream stand serves 27 flavors, from the traditional like pistachio, to some island-inspired varieties like coconut and mango, to unique flavors like Grape Nuts and Devon Stout, flavored with a local island beer.
Kem Bạch Đằng is a no-frills ice cream parlor on bustling Le Loi. The simple ice cream and sorbets are served with style: whimsical banana splits with fresh fruit toppings and Chantilly cream and fresh coconut ice cream served in a hollowed out coconut topped with a paper umbrella are some of the most popular treats.
Indulge in a scoop of ice cream at the worn-around-the-edges, state-run Coppelia Ice Cream Parlor, the largest ice cream parlor in Cuba, where locals gather to enjoy ice cream in the garden at the corner of 23rd Street and L Street. The flavors are mostly classics: chocolate, vanilla, and the like, but no trip to Cuba is complete without people watching from the long, winding line and indulging in a scoop or two from this iconic shop.
There’s no standalone shop, but we had to include Glacé on our list. Its sweet treats can be ordered online and picked up from its Sydney factory outlet located at 39 Smith St Summer Hill NSW 2130 or enjoyed on the menus of Sydney’s top restaurants. Established in 1984, Glacé has been supplying Sydney’s leading restaurants with its luscious ice cream and sorbet along with fanciful ice cream creations like cakes and petit fours. The ice creams at Glacé are crème anglaise-based, using fresh full cream milk, pure cream, and egg yolks. There are dozens of standard ice cream flavors like blackcurrant, Hokey Pokey (vanilla ice cream with honeycomb toffee), passionfruit, raspberry, and rhubarb and sorbets like blood orange, blueberry, coconut and lime, and pear, and custom flavors like Australian wattleseed (a roasted grain with a taste similar to hazelnuts), Christmas Plum Pudding, Espresso and Sambuca, and Quince and Rose Petal ice cream along with Champagne, Gin and Tonic, sour cherry and passionfruit, and vinegar sorbet. Plus, Glacé will also make special flavors.
Since enjoying Kohu Road ice cream at its headquarters in Auckland in 2012, we haven’t been able to forget the ice cream here. Named for the road on which the product factory calls home, Kohu Road is sold at nearby The Tannery cafe, Mt. Atkinson’s flagship café on Portage Road, and grocery stores across New Zealand.
In addition to organic ice creams and sorbets, Caramello is also known for its soy-based, dairy-free, and vegan options served daily. If you’re an old-school ice cream purist, don’t worry: Caramello offers 50 flavors, with 25 available in the shop at all times. These obviously include the classics, but others are so unique they even include a story. The 1001 Nights, for instance, includes grapes and sesame, and was inspired by a love story with a Persian girl.
Historians tell us that the Chinese invented ice cream, and The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory makes a good case for a long expertise in the craft (40-plus years!), with delicious handmade flavors like pineapple, black sesame, red bean, and vanilla fudge. The line-up is ever changing (there have been hundreds of flavors over the years), but lychee remains a top seller. Other fusion flavors include pandan (a sweet herb from southeast Asia) and almond cookie. The family-owned business has been owned by the same family since its opening, and the ice cream is made in-store. It’s not just Chinese clientele or tourists who cram into the tiny shop and line up down the street; locals and celebrities also frequent the shop, jostling for space to order cups and cones to go.
Located inside the Tivoli Gardens amusement park, this 112-year-old ice cream shop is still run by its founding family. Vaffelbageriet makes ice creams from age-old recipes, with classic flavors in addition to unique offerings like tiramisu and Irish coffee. Specializing in excess, the most popular item at Vaffelbageriet is the Amerikaner, which packs up to four scoops of ice cream in a cone and tops it all with syrup, whipped cream, and a chocolate-covered meringue puff.
Founded in 2014 in Taipei, Baires Argentinean Artisan Ice Cream brings the farm-to-table concept to its ice cream, sourcing fresh fruit from local farms and making ingredients from scratch. There are 25 to 30 flavors on offer daily. The most popular flavors are mascarpone with berries and guava-dragon fruit. The creamy ice cream is made with fresh seasonal fruit, pure Belgium cocoa, and many ingredients, like cookie dough, honeycomb, almond butter, praline, salted caramel, candied orange peels, and caramelized nuts, are made from scratch in-house. All flavors are gluten free.
Founded in 1983, COWS Ice Cream has expanded from one shop on the Cavendish Boardwalk to 12 locations in Canada. There are at least 32 flavors on offer, but often there are more options like the ever-popular Wowie Cowie (vanilla ice cream, English toffee marble, chocolate flakes, and Moo Crunch). Made with 16-percent butterfat, the ice cream, made with fresh cream and eggs, is mixed slowly yielding low overrun (air). The ice cream is poured out of modified ice cream machines and ingredients like vanilla from Madagascar and strawberries from Prince Edward Island are added in by hand. Generous scoops are served in homemade waffle cones. The bright shops all sell fun COWS merchandize, so guests can remember COWS Ice Cream long after it is gone.
Since opening its doors on Avenida Providencia in April 2015, El Taller has offered a sweet taste of Chilean flavors, particularly Southern Patagonia, with super foods like Maqui, Rosa Mosqueta, Granada, and Redcurrant incorporated into its collection of more than 100 flavors, each made from original recipes. Some 18 flavors are showcased at a time. Examples include tiramisu, ricotta cheesecake with sour cherry, Bailey's, Artisan´s Dulce de Leche and vanilla perfumed with lavender. The ice creams flavors – all made in-house – incorporate very typical Chilean flavors, such as Mote con Huesillo (a traditional Chilean drink with husked wheat, dried peaches, and nectar), Lúcuma (a fruit), and Chirimoya Alegre (custard apple).
James Beard Award-winning chef Jeni Britton Bauer and her crew, who call themselves “ice cream explorers,” were visionaries back in 2002 when they used dairy from grass-fed cows, whole ingredients, and creative flavors to make Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (Check out this fascinating behind the scenes look at the production kitchen of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams). Their shop, Jeni’s Spendid Ice Creams, serves ice creams, buttermilk frozen yogurts, sorbets, ice cream sandwiches, and sundaes made from the ground up. The flavors are influenced by everything from the season to pop culture, and include churro, brambleberry crisp, sweet cream biscuits & peach jam, bourbon salted pecan, and wildberry lavender. There are now shops in 10 U.S. cities, including Columbus and Cleveland, Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta, and St. Louis plus Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream is sold in grocery stores across the U.S.
When it comes to ice cream shops, Big Gay Ice Cream broke onto the scene in a big way. It started showing up all over New York City in a seasonal food truck in 2009, but the demand was so high that it had to open up a storefront in 2011, then another in 2012, and then a Philly shop in 2015. Only nine-years-old, Big Gay Ice Cream is acting like a veteran in the industry, swirling a limited number of flavors, vanilla, chocolate, and one or two specialties that include coffee, peppermint, and brownie batter, and dressing them up in fun, but high quality, sundae masterpieces like the “The Dorothy” (vanilla and dulce de leche ice cream with crushed Nilla Wafers) and the “Mermaid” (vanilla with key lime curd, crushed graham crackers, and whipped cream). In addition to countless accolades, food expert Andrew Zimmern once referred to the “Salty Pimp” sundae as a “cone you want to be alone with.” Seven pint varieties are sold in stores along the east coast of the U.S. and are available online nationwide.
If you only try one ice cream shop in Paris, make it Berthillon — which is easy for us to say, as it’s the only Parisian place on our list. Additionally, the store has been an institution in town for 62 years (and is still run by the same family that founded it), and currently offers 70 all-natural, chemical-free flavors of ice cream and sorbet, such as the popular wild strawberry, spiced bread, and numerous varieties of both chocolate and caramel. Need help finding Berthillon? Head for the picturesque Île St-Louis and look for the big crowd or the lines that extend out the door.
Established in 1957, Heladeria Cadore carries on the Italian tradition of handcrafting artisanal gelato. The classic Italian gelateria scoops 45, mostly traditional, flavors, including pistachio, strawberry, and orange with ginger that have impressed locals and visitors alike for decades.
The ice cream sandwich takes an unusual form in Sicily, as you'll learn at Antico Caffè Spinnato, where gelato (in one of about two-dozen flavors) is served on fresh-baked brioche bread. Sound weird? Just trust them; they’ve been in business for over 150 years.
This family-owned French ice cream parlor has been scooping up sweet treats since 1966. Serving some 61 ice cream flavors and 34 sorbets, Fenocchio caters to the ice cream connoisseur with all the classics and then some truly adventurous flavors like poppy, vanilla and pink pepper, jasmine, and avocado. Fenocchio is so popular in France and with tourists, that it now operates two successful stores in Nice’s old town.
Founded by Natasha Case and Freya Estreller in 2008, Coolhaus is probably the only ice cream company that advertises itself as “architecturally-inspired,” Coolhaus lets its customers design their own ice cream sandwich “houses” with fresh-baked cookies and handmade ice cream. Flavors of the former include black and white, Cocoa Pebbles (gluten-free!), maple flapjack, red velvet, and about 20 others. As for the latter, expect to see some 50+ mind-blowing ice cream varieties like avocado sea salt, beer and pretzels, buttered French toast, gin and tonic, Peking duck, and pizza. The company now has a dozen trucks and carts in Los Angeles, New York City, and Dallas, with storefronts in Culver City, Calif. and Pasadena, Calif. plus the cool treats are sold in 6,000 stores nationwide. You probably don’t need any more convincing, but just FYI: Coolhaus treats are all-natural, handmade, and organic whenever possible, using fresh, local, sustainable, and hormone-free ingredients.
Molly Moon’s all-natural, local, and sustainable (right down to the spoons, straws, and cups) ice cream comes in 10 “Always” flavors that stay constant, and four seasonal options that change based on what’s fresh in the Northwest. Examples? There are plenty. Try strawberry, honey lavender, Scout Mint, or Earl Grey to start, or go with a seasonal like cherry chunk (in vegan and regular), strawberry rhubarb sorbet, and vegan Thai tea. The most popular flavors are cookie dough (brown sugar cinnamon ice cream with oat chocolate cookie dough) and Melted Chocolate made with local chocolatier Theo’s dark chocolate. The ice cream is super rich and creamy thanks to it having 19-percent butterfat and local and organic ingredients, and being churned in-store. The shop also offers one vegan and one sorbet option (which is usually vegan) each month. Opened in 2008 in the Wallingford neighborhood, Molly Moon’s now has seven locations in Seattle and one in Redmond, Wash.
The whimsical Jaxson’s Ice Cream has been beloved for decades by locals and visitors who come for the ambiance nearly as much as for the ice cream. The same recipes are used that founder Monroe Udell used when Jaxson’s Ice Cream opened in 1956, and the décor, populated with literally a ton of antiques and memorabilia that Monroe jokingly described as “Early America Disaster” has remained largely unchanged. There’s an extensive collection of license plates with some clever six to eight letter messages, and the front of the shop features a three-horse carousel, adding a carnival-like feel to Jaxson’s. There are 60 flavors to choose from, including fat free yogurt, sugar free ice cream, and sorbets (including three vegan options: mango, cherry, and lemon), but the most popular ice cream flavor is Oreo. The generous portions of ice cream are made in small batches by hand in Emery Thompson machines whose basic original design is over 100-years-old. The shop only makes enough ice cream to stay barely a week ahead, so the ice cream here is always fresh. The signature The Kitchen Sink is perfect for sharing, and the food, particularly the corned beef and pastrami sandwich, are locally famous.
Once upon a time, there were cows that grazed hills in the borough and Ample Hills is a nod to nostalgic Brooklyn. Named after Walt Whitman’s poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” the fun and funky ice cream shop opened in 2011 with playful flavors like Ooey Gooey Butter Cake (vanilla ice cream with hunks of St. Louis-style ooey gooey butter cake), The Munchies (pretzel-infused ice cream with clusters of Ritz crackers, potato chips, pretzels, and mini M&Ms), and Snap Mallow Pop! (a deconstructed Rice Krispie treat with marshmallow ice cream and buttery Rice Krispie clusters). Amployees let guests sample the creative flavors, all made in-house (Ample Hills Creamery is a registered dairy plant that creates creamy ice cream from hormone-free milk and cream from grass-fed cows). Most of the mix-ins, from peppermint patties to pistachio brittle, are made in-house too. Ample Hills Creamery has expanded from its original Prospect Heights location to nine locations in New York, New Jersey, Florida, and soon a 10th location in Los Angeles.
Specializing in all-natural, rGBH-free ice cream since 1993, Taos Cow makes its fantastic flavors by hand in small batches with organic and locally-sourced ingredients, creating Southwestern-inspired varieties like Buffalo Chip (vanilla ice cream with dark chocolate-covered coffee beans), Piñon Caramel (light vanilla with piñon and smashed vanilla caramel chunks), Cherry Ristra (cherry ice cream with dark chocolate chunks and piñon nuts), Holstein Sunset (strawberry ice cream with white, dark, and milk chocolate chunks), and Café Ole (coffee with cinnamon and dark chocolate chunks). There are more than 30 flavors, but only 16 are on display in the dipper each day. The shop also serves an amazing ruben and turkey club sandwich too.
An oldie but a goodie, locals still flock to the last standing Jahn’s for a taste of yesteryear. Founded by John Jahn in Mott Haven in 1897, Jahn’s grew into a large chain with dozens of shops in New York, New Jersey, and Florida. Today, Peter and Nick, the sons of a former Jahn’s waiter-turned-owner Tom Moukas, own the shop in Jackson Heights, which was recently renovated to retain the vintage look that was a hallmark of its success. In 1987, a full food menu was added, but ice cream remains the signature draw. Regulars with big appetites and a couple of friends order the famous Kitchen Sink, which utilizes every ingredient at the ice cream parlor to construct the massive ice cream sundae.
Whether it’s brownies, peanut brittle, marshmallows, or snickerdoodles, Bi-Rite Creamery makes everything that goes into its ice cream — which is handmade onsite 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.
Drawing upon a collection of 400 flavors, the gelato options at Capogiro Gelato have been ever changing and based on the season since opening in 2002. The most popular flavor is Cioccolato Scuro (Bitter Chocolate), a dark and rich, but low-fat chocolate gelato. Michelle Obama and her daughters ordered it along with chocolate banana and dulce de leche when they visited. The gelateria owns its own dairy, affectionately called the Big Kitchen, purchases raw milk locally from grass-fed cows, and makes its own mix-ins like caramel and roasted nuts. The business has expanded to four locations, including the Capofitto Forno, which also serves authentic Neapolitan pizza.
The ingredients are the protagonists at Emporio La Rosa. Founded in 2001 by Teresa Undurraga on Merced Street in central downtown Santiago, 23 more shops have since opened in the capital and across Chile. The ice cream is made in a central location to ensure consistency. Traditional cream-based flavors like dulce de leche are made with organic, 100-percent natural raw materials. Water-based ice creams, like strawberry, are made with real fruit by hand, which means there is low overrun in the ice cream. Flavors like Limón Menta Albahaca (lemon, mint, basil), the most popular flavor, are made with natural mint and albahaca leaves and by squeezing lemons by hand. The shops offer 30 flavors and 15 Popsicle flavors (a new flavor is launched each month). For a distinctly Chilean flavor, don’t miss the Chocolate Araucano, made with original Araucano liqueur (a traditional drink from Valparaíso in the central coast of Chile). The shops offer sugar free chocolate and sugar free strawberry, and many of the fruit-based ice creams are vegan.
Unless a local shows you where to go, it’s tricky to find Il Gelato di San Crispino, one of Rome’s most beloved gelatarias, hidden down a narrow side lane just a short walk from the Trevi Fountain. But the search is worth the whisky-flavored gelato and other exceptional choices you’ll find there. Flavors change according to the seasons. There are no additives, preservatives, or emulsifiers in the gelato and raw materials are used when possible. Although this is the original location, there are thankfully now a couple in Rome as well as a branch in Bologna, Italy.
Perché No! has been mixing a fresh batch of gelato every morning since it opened in 1939, and today it features fruit flavors like raspberry, persimmon, and Sicilian cassata; chocolate delights like rum chocolate, white chocolate, and Sacher cake; and creamy concoctions like “panna” with black cherries, mint cream, and milk with honey and sesame seeds — with every variety using all-natural ingredients. For some street cred, the gelato shop is rumored to be Nigella Lawson’s favorite spot.
Not every ice cream parlor can claim fame like Max & Mina’s, which was recognized with a Trivial Pursuit 25th anniversary question, and featured on game show Hollywood Squares. Inspired by the recipes of their grandpa Max, an organic chemist, Bruce and Mark Becker opened the shop in Flushing in 1997, and made it their mission to create more interesting (and sometimes shocking) ice cream flavors. They succeeded, and were the first to bring crazy flavors to food shows and the masses. One such flavor was the Alan Brown, a Tito’s Vodka with lime that was made for Brown in honor of his work with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. You won’t find their 34 bold and avant-garde combinations like the popular Cap’n Crunch Cookies & Cream (Cap’n Crunch ice cream base with Oreos) anywhere else. Just ask some of the famous names who have praised Max & Mina’s, like Charlie Gibson, Arthur Schwartz, Al Roker, and Kevin James. To date, Max & Mina’s has created more than 9,000 flavors; we can’t wait to see what is next.
Sebastian Joe’s — founded in 1984 by three brothers: Tim, Todd, and Michael, and named after their grandfather Sebastiano, who came from Italy and was nicknamed Joe — aims to surprise. Their two locations’ flavors change daily from a roster of nearly 150 flavors, many of which are kosher. The ice cream is dense and creamy thanks for 16-percent butterfat. The super premium ice cream contains just two percent of eggs and low overrun. Each batch is slow churned. There is no food coloring in the whimsical flavors like oatmeal raisin cookie, peanut butter chunk, chocolate banana chocolate chip, and green tea. One of the most popular flavors is Nicollet Avenue Pothole (chocolate ice cream, sea salt, a ribbon of fudge, chunks of Heath bar, and fudge medallions). There are vegan flavors, made from a coconut base, too.
When shop founders Donald and Clarissa Morelli opened Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream in 2008, their goal was to create the best and most unique ice cream in Atlanta. The most popular flavor is salted caramel (caramel ice cream with Mediterranean sea salt), but there are unique offerings too, like blueberry corncake, dark chocolate chile, Krispy Kreamier, strawberry rosewater, Elvis Lives (peanut butter and banana), and cream cheese and guava. There are non-dairy options like sorbet and almond milk too. Although you may only have 15 or so options to choose from each time, Morelli’s rotates daily from a collection of over 200 flavors, each made in-store with gelato machines — which is the perfect reason to keep coming back again and again.
“Honest-to-goodness, made-from-scratch, not-your-average ice cream” is what you’ll find at The Creamery. Founded in 2011, The Creamery churns custard ice cream that is flavored with only real, natural ingredients that come straight from local farms. For adventurous ice cream connoisseurs, every month The Creamery releases a "Flavour of the Month" that you can only get once a year for the full month. These flavors are special because they’re hard to make, they use ingredients that are only available seasonally and in small amounts, and they haven’t been introduced in the shop yet. Other flavors include nectarine, cream cheese, Ginger Choc-Chip and Grannysmith Apple, Limpopo Black Tea, Granadilla (passionfruit), Sweet Potato-Cinnamon, and Red Fig. Seen these varieties anywhere else? We haven’t either. On a given day at The Creamery’s three Cape Town shops, you’ll find nine flavors, including the Flavour of the Month, four or five all-time favorites, classic flavors like 65% Chocolate, and at least three seasonal flavors like Woodstocky Road, which has a chocolate base and is layered with coffee-shortbread crumble and house-made marshmallow fluff.
For 85 years, Whitey’s Ice Cream has churned out scoops, shakes, and floats with the same recipes and focus on exemplary customer service. Founded by Chester “Whitey” Lindgren in 1933, the business was taken over by Bob and Norma Tunberg in 1953, and the ice cream shop remains in the Tunberg family. While the original store no longer stands, a new shop replete in the company’s signature red and white with old school ice cream parlor flair has been built in its place, and the company has expanded to 10 locations in Illinois and Iowa. Whitey’s Ice Cream is also sold in Hy-Vee grocery stores throughout the Midwest. There are at least 38 flavors on offer, which change based on the season. Spring offerings include banana, banana graham, key lime pie, lemon custard, Cancun coconut (coconut cream ice cream with coconut flakes, toasted coconut, and crushed pineapple), and Super Blueberry Cheesecake. Summer scoops include Honeycomb Crunch (vanilla ice cream with chocolate honeycomb pieces and rippled with a caramel swirl), mango raspberry, peanut butter pretzel bark, peaches and caramel, and pistachio. There’s no shortage of creativity and accolades here: Whitey’s Ice Cream has created a camouflage ice cream called Sgt. Camo (graham cracker and marshmallow ice cream with a ribbon of Whitey’s fudge) – all profits from the sale of Sgt. Camo are donated to military veterans groups – and its Graham Central Station ice cream (graham cracker ice cream with graham cracker swirl) won the top spot at the World Dairy Expo scoring 99 out of a possible 100 points.
Located on Calle Ocho in Little Havana, the Cuban ice cream store Azucar Ice Cream Company is hard to miss thanks to the 29-foot 3D ice cream come on the side of its building. Azucar Ice Cream Company is Cuban through and through, from the ice cream flavors to the décor (the seat cushions are made from traditional guayabera men’s shirts and covered in plastic and the floor is tiled with replicas of traditional Cuban tiles. Azucar Ice Cream Company has more than 100 flavors with new flavors invented weekly, but the most popular flavor, which is trademarked, is Abuela Maria, vanilla ice cream mixed with guava, cream cheese, and Maria crackers – a true Cuban delicacy. The ice cream at this shop is made with a gelato machine yielding consistency between ice cream and gelato, and ingredients are locally sourced from Redlands and Homestead, South Florida’s farming areas. The ice cream shop concentrates on making old school ice creams like Mantecado, a Cuban vanilla that is made with egg yolks and is more like a French vanilla, Cuatro Leches (four milks cake), and flan. Vegan options include Elvis (almond milk, peanut butter, and bananas). Founded in 2011, Azucar Ice Cream is opening a second location in Dallas, Tex. this summer.
Founded in 2014, Melt Ice Cream is located in Fort Worth’s historic district. It’s not just the bright yellow interior that creates happiness here (it has been the backdrop for engagements, after-school ice cream traditions, and selfies with friends), but also the ice cream shop’s commitment to giving back to the community. Each year, Melt Ice Creams chooses a new non-profit organization (this year it’s the Gladney Center for Adoption, which works to improve the lives of children, adoptive families, and birth parents in North Texas) to support with five-percent of sales from its Beans flavor going to the chosen non-profit. Melt Ice Creams offers five year-round “Always” flavors and five rotating “Sometimes” flavors that switch off every six weeks plus a weekend special that is either a past favorite from the Sometimes list or a one-time collaboration with a local restaurant. Chocolate Chocolate is the most popular flavor thanks to its rich chocolate ice cream made with locally sourced chocolate from Dude, Sweet Chocolate. Another flavor to crave is Cup of Texas made with Avoca Coffee. There’s also Taco Tuesdays when ice cream “tacos” are served with two scoops nestled in a waffle cone shell and topped with vanilla whipped cream, house-made salted caramel sauce, and chocolate sauce. The ice cream is made in small batches at the Joy Factory, a mile from the original shop where ice cream and all the inclusions (i.e. mix-ins like cookies) are made. The company is looking to expand with more shops in the near future.
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-y. Plus it has a much longer history, having been invented around 1952. Ercole? It’s been in business since 1965, which means 53 solid years of practice.
There are 24 flavors in Cool Moon Ice Cream’s dipping cabinets: four rotating sorbets (all vegan, with the chocolate sorbet as a permanent and favorite flavor), nine permanent ice creams (including classics like chocolate chip and some more unique choices, such as Thai Iced Tea and Spicy Thai Peanut), and 11 rotating ice creams. In all, Cool Moon Ice Cream’s recipe books contain about 100 flavors, and the kitchen team is known to create new flavors on the fly when inspiration strikes. Cool Moon Ice Cream is most known for its Kulfi flavor, which is based on a traditional Indian dessert of pistachios, rosewater, and cardamom, but there are great classics too – all churned with 14-percent butterfat and lovingly created with an Emery Thompson batch freezer. Each flavor is made in small batches of two to three 10-quart tubs. While all the ice cream and sorbets are naturally made with no artificial colors or flavorings, there are two exceptions: Thai Iced Tea, which contains coloring in the tea leaves themselves; and Birthday Cake, which is made with confetti sprinkles that are clearly not colored with vegetable dye. Founded by Eva Bernhard in 2007, the business was sold to Phuonganh Tran and Phong Nguyen in 2017, who continue creating classic and creative flavors like summertime favorites lemon poppyseed, lemon lavender, and Summer Rose, to commemorate the rose festival in Portland.
For old-fashioned ice cream, Eddie’s Sweet Shop is the place — after all, it first opened way back in 1909 in Forest Hills. Needless to say, this sweets shop will take you back to the good old days when whipped cream was made by hand, banana splits were served in metal bowls, and soda jerks could charm the girls right off their bar stools. Although we love experimental and innovative flavors, you gotta respect Eddie’s for keeping its varieties in the classic realm, with 20 in total that include vanilla, chocolate, and rum raisin. It’s also worth noting that not only is all the ice cream handmade on premise, but so are the toppings and syrups.
Simmo’s Ice Creamery went from a tiny father-and-son creamery, founded in 1993 with just a simple recipe (the owner’s late father used it back in Ireland) and an ice cream machine, to an award-winning shop in the seaside town of Dunsborough, three hours south of Perth, with over 60 ice cream flavors and an ice cream eating emu. When the shop first opened in an old deer farm in the tiny town, locals thought the owners were mad building an ice cream shop in the bush. Then, a lady ordered baked bean ice cream for her husband, who loved it and phoned the local newspaper, who wrote an article about it. The rest is history. The most popular flavor is vanilla bean, which has a lovely cooked condensed milk taste with vanilla bean sourced from France. Second popular is Clean Label Mango, a sorbet with only four ingredients. Vegan options include mango with organic coconut cream with mango purée swirl and peanut butter and chocolate swirl. Each September, the shop makes small tubs of rum and coconut ice cream, colors it blue to look like Viagra, and calls it res-erection, to raise money for prostate cancer research.
It’s tough to choose what to order at Moomers Homemade Ice Cream, which boasts 160 flavors of ice cream, sorbets, sherbets, and yogurt. Thankfully, the list is whittled down to a more manageable 20 options daily plus there is an ice cream flight, which includes five two-ounce portions for those who can’t decide what flavors to try. Traverse City, Mich. is the cherry capital of the world, so it’s no surprise the top-seller is Cherries Moobilee, black cherry ice cream with local Traverse City black cherry halves, fudge brownies, and a chocolate ripple. Founded in 1998, Nancy and Bob Plummer wanted a quaint ice cream parlor next to their 80-acre dairy farm. During the first year of business, the family hand crafted 4,200 gallons of ice cream, but now more than 90,000 gallons of ice cream are made in a year – most of which is enjoyed by customers overlooking the cow pasture. The family also runs a micro-creamery that processes all the milk the cows produce.
“Mac” McConnell’s legendary spot is where the “universe’s finest ice cream,” is made, according to McConnell's. McConnell’s is a dairy, which was founded in downtown Santa Barbara in 1934 and the shop was founded in 1949. The New Dairy makes McConnell’s ice cream exemplary because everything, from the raw milk and cream to the finished product, is completely made from scratch yielding a creamier, denser, and more balanced ice cream. The flagship shop offers 32 flavors, but the company has 100-plus flavors. In addition to creating classic flavors like vanilla bean and mint chip, McConnell’s also offers unexpected ones like the tart-and-tangy Eureka Lemon and Marionberries (made with Oregon marionberries and infused with Eureka lemon) and Sea Salt Cream & Cookies with sweet cream base, sea salt, and chunks of house-made Guittard Chocolate Chunk Cookies, for those with a big sweet tooth. Peppermint stick, made with organic peppermint and peppermint candy, is a customer favorite. Each flavor is made with local, sustainable, and organic raw ingredients, and there are no stabilizers, natural or man-made, in the ice cream. Thanks to a proprietary process, the ice cream isn’t spun and there’s virtually no air either. The shop has recently released its first dairy-free products made from pea protein, which allows McConnell’s to churn out many classic flavors without having them all taste like roasted nuts or coconut, which is what most dairy-free products that are made from almond, cashew, soy, or coconut taste like. There are five McConnell’s ice cream shops and two more are slated to open, one in Santa Barbara and the other in Los Angeles, later this year.
Tucked away in the northwestern English countryside in a beautiful cobbled courtyard that dates to 1864, Snugburys could easily be called a hidden gem; yet more than 300,000 people come each year for a scoop or two. The shop has been around for 30 years (it was founded by Chris and Cheryl Sadler), and their daughters, Hannah, Kitty & Cleo, now run it. Snugburys currently serves about 40 flavors, all made with fresh cream and homemade ingredients like honeycomb, crème brûlée, chocolate brownie, damson, and sloe gin, and seasonal varieties like Christmas Pudding (made with Guinness and brandy). One of the most popular flavors is chocolate brownie, made with a rich, deep chocolate malt ice cream with large chunks of Snugburys homemade chocolate brownie. One of the newest flavors is Elderflower and Rhubarb (the elderflower is picked from Snugburys’ organic farm and made into a cordial and combined with British rhubarb to make a delicious summertime treat). The overall experience is part of the package too; guests can go for a scenic walk around the beautiful Cheshire countryside or check out the mind-blowing giant hay sculptures onsite – this year’s is a 48-foot Peter Rabbit.
Gelato Messina (founded in 2002) and its 15 Australia outlets (and growing with some overseas outposts scheduled to open in the near future) are routinely named as having the best gelato in the country and the world. Gelato Messina’s philosophy is based on a simple question: “How would they have made gelato 100 years ago?” With that, all-natural ingredients go into the made-from-scratch gelato every day, and the recipes involve no colorings, flavorings, preservatives, or pastes. Gelato Messina owns its own Jersey cow dairy farm, which produces the milk for the ice cream. The company also owns its own hazelnut farm, a chocolate machine to make chocolate from scratch, and Australia’s only authentic dulce de leche machine. The chain bakes its own cakes, brownies, cookies, and pies to use as ingredients. Some 40 freshly churned flavors are available every day with five new special flavors debuting weekly. The most popular flavor is salted caramel gelato with white chocolate. The shop also makes a range of handmade gelato cakes; the most popular is Dr. Evil's Magic Mushroom (the top dome of the cake is filled with Dr. Evil gelato, a combo of dark chocolate gelato, peanut cookies, and dulce de leche, and is topped with layers of vanilla cream, chocolate sponge, a red ganache, and white chocolate buttons to finish. The stalk is filled with dulce de leche surrounded by dark chocolate gelato. The whole mushroom sits upon ‘grass’ made from popping candy, crushed biscuit, white chocolate, and almond praline).
Founded in 2011 by Chef Anthony Sobotik and Chad Palmatier, Lick Honest Ice Cream has been a hit in Austin, selling ice cream, but also ceramic bowls, handmade spoons, sauces, and even holiday ornaments. Although the first location on South Lamar Boulevard, which opened in 2011, has moved up the street from its original spot, Lick Honest Ice Creams has expanded to include two more locations in Austin, Tex. and a fourth location in San Antonio. Part of the slow food movement, Lick Honest Ice Creams has spent $1.3 million exclusively with small, local farmers. Lick Honest Ice Creams gets its dairy products from a single-source, the Mill King Creamery in McGregor, Tex., to make its proprietary ice cream base, which is churned in its own facility and hand-pack into pints and tubs or slathered into sandwiches. Inspired by the culture of Texas and the seasons, Lick Honest Ice Creams always has 10 everyday flavors, four dairy-free and vegan flavors, and eight seasonal flavors plus five types of ice cream sandwiches, one of which is a seasonal flavor. Creative flavors include the ever-popular Caramel Salt Lick (classic salted caramel ice cream with rich caramel sauce blended into the ice cream base), Cilantro Lime (an original flavor that combines lime and cilantro from G&S Groves in Rio Grande Valley, Tex.) and Goat Cheese, Thyme & Honey (made with fresh chèvre and thyme from Pure Luck Farm and local honey from Good Flow Honey). Some 70-percent of ingredients are sourced from small, local, Central Texas farmers and artisans, such as chocolate from SRSLY Chocolate, bourbon from Garrison Brothers Distillery, fresh goat cheese from Pure Luck Farm, and carrots, cilantro and beets from Johnson’s Backyard Garden. The ice cream base is made with 100-percent Mill King Market & Creamery milk and cream, cane sugar, brown rice syrup, tapioca starch, and organic guar bean, so it is inherently gluten, soy, and egg-free. All ice cream components, like cakes, cookies, cobblers, and custards, are made from scratch in Lick Honest Ice Creams’ own kitchen. The shop also produces a selection of vegan ice creams made with coconut milk.
What began as two friends who enjoyed making ice cream as a hobby has turned into a passion for introducing experimental, high-end flavor profiles to ice cream and frozen desserts. The folks behind Ice and Vice don’t believe in “vanilla,” but rather reimaging ice cream by offering standout flavor profiles built upon a base of 16-percent butterfat and low overrun, resulting in a smooth, rich, and luxurious product. The flavors are experimental and push the boundaries of what ice cream can be, incorporating global food trends and molecular gastronomy. The ice cream is house-made (Ice and Vice is a certified dairy plant and pasteurizes its product in-house). Its shop at 221 East Broadway is decked out in black and white, allowing the colorful ice cream and people behind the counter take center stage. There is also a kiosk in Times Square at the corner of Broadway and 43rd Street. There are six signature flavors on offer year-round plus five seasonal flavors based on a theme – all have stories behind them and creative names like the popular Milk Money, named and inspired by a movie of the same name starring Melanie Griffith and Ed Harris that is comprised of toasted milk ice cream and sea salt chocolate ganache.
Negranti Creamery is a special place – not only for its exemplary ice cream and hospitality, but also because it offers 100-percent sheep’s milk ice cream. Negranti Creamery was the first ice cream company to sell 100-percent sheep’s milk ice cream on wholesale and retail levels in the U.S. The shop sells ice cream made from sheep’s milk (which lactose intolerant ice cream lovers can enjoy) and from cow’s milk from local cows. Patrons can peer into the creamery windows to see the ice cream being churned in small batches. Founded in 2010, the flagship scoop shop opened in 2017 in Tin City, an industrial complex filled with local artisans, and a second shop is scheduled to open in San Luis Obispo Public Market in spring 2019. Negranti Creamery scoops 16 flavors, including classics like vanilla bean and chocolate brownie, and seasonal selections like blackberry rosemary in the summer and pumpkin spice and maple pecan in fall. Some of the most popular flavors are Salted Brown Sugar, Black Coffee Chip, Chocolate Brownie, and Cinnamon Vanilla, which tastes just like churros.
Murphy’s crafts simple artisanal flavors with no shortage of imagination and Irish influence. There are 12 regular flavors and four special flavors like caramel honeycomb, Dingle sea salt, Dingle gin, caramelized brown bread, and Kieran’s Cookies. The most popular flavor is Dreamy Creamy Caramel (crunchy caramel and butterscotch ice creams with butterscotch sauce, and salted caramel cream). Murphy’s doesn’t use colorings, flavorings, or powdered milk in its ice cream. They use Irish cream and the grass-fed Kerry cow breed for the ice cream’s milk. Murphy’s makes most of the things that go into the ice creams too like the cookies, butterscotch, and sea salt. Murphy’s even distills its own rainwater to make their famous sorbets. Founded in 2000, there are shops in Dublin, Galway, Killarney, and Kilkenny.
Since 1900, Giolitti has been serving gelato to Roman dessert-lovers in Via Ufficio del Vicario. The batches are always made fresh, the portions are plentiful, and 50 flavors are available every day in varieties like chocolate coconut, Nutella, limoncello, and marron glacés. Claims to fame? Giolitti has a lot. The shop was visited by Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, Pope John Paul II used to get special delivery orders, and first lady Michelle Obama made and enjoyed gelato there with daughters Malia and Sasha in 2009. Giolitti has expanded with four locations in Seoul, South Korea, and one in Kuwait City, Kuwait.
Founded in 2011, Salt & Straw started as a humble cart serving eight flavors and has expanded to 15 scoop shops and Wiz Bang Bar, a soft-serve dessert bar in Portland. Made by hand in small five- and 10-gallon batches featuring local, organic, and sustainable ingredients from artisanal purveyors, the ice cream at Salt & Straw boasts strong, natural flavors — and the varieties are sure to blow your mind. The flavors are changed every four weeks to tell the story of what is happening in the local artisan, farm, and chef communities. Collaborations have included Bone Marrow & Bourbon Smoked Cherries and Goat Cheese & Black Olive Brittle. There are currently 32 flavors, the classics and five seasonal flavors that rotate every month. There is at least one vegan option at each shop. The most popular flavor is Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, created with Mark Bitterman, the owner and “selmelier” at internally-renowned Portland salt shop, The Meadow, and author of Salted, a James Beard Award winning cookbook. For its Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons flavor, Salt & Straw uses The Meadow’s Fleur de Sel, which is made in Guatemala from saltpans that are famed for supplying the Mayan Empire at the height of its power, and tops it off by ribboning in hand-burned caramel that is made in house. The best part? You don’t have to be in Portland to try this ice cream – it can be shopped anywhere in the U.S. – and, thankfully, it’s not the most expensive pint of ice cream we’ve encountered.
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