We’re Dying to Get a Scoop Here: America’s Best Ice Cream Parlors
It’s summer, and we don’t have to tell you twice that it’s time to think about Ice Cream. And we know that we’re going to eat that packaged-ice-cream-truck-vending-machine crap plenty of times, but that’s not really ice cream. Thank God you can still find those small batch, made by hand fresh every day ice cream parlors all around the country, because there is nothing else that can even come close to the premium ice cream experience. Some of these are gourmet shops, some are as back to basics as you can get. But they’re all making us hungry for ice cream.
We are setting out to find those one-of-a-kind ice cream experiences all across the country. We’ve made ourselves a starter list of our favorites as well as the places we are dying to try, but we’re counting on you to fill in the blanks and let us know — are these hits? are these misses? and what small local ice cream parlors are we missing? Send us your favorites, and let us know what the best flavor they have is. Leave them in the comments or email us at email@example.com. Look for the revised master list to hit the site just in time for July 4th weekend. Thanks!
Humprey Slocombe in San Francisco, California.
Humphry Solocombe is not focused on kids and it’s far from traditional. In fact, many of their most famous flavors revolve around the taste of alcohol. But people line up in droves, especially for their most popular flavor, Secret Breakfast. Check them out @humphryslocombe on twitter and www.humphryslocombe.com on the web.
Highlights of the Flavor List: Secret Breakfast – bourbon, milk and corn flakes, Creme Freche, Beer Butter, Magnolia Stout, Harvey Milk & Honey. Can’t make it there? Buy the book!
Ici Ice Cream in Berkeley, California.
Created by the former pastry chef at Chez Panisse. The truly unique hand rolled ice cream cones made fresh daily are as big of a star as the ice cream itself. Everything is small batch, and focused on the purest and best ingredients available locally and seasonably. Flavors change daily but we don’t think it matters what flavor you go home with. It seems almost impossible to get a bad scoop here. Find them at @iciicecream on twitter www.ici-icecream.com on the web.
Some of the flavors they’ve offered in the rotation include: Honey Graham Cracker, Earl Grey, Candied Meyer Lemon, Coffee ‘n Cookies, Honey Orange Blossom, Horchata.
Fosselman’s Ice Cream in Alahambra, California.
Family owned and operated for 91 years, and their milk shakes are known near and far. This is a true ice cream parlor, keeping everything that was excellent about old school ice cream shops, while still bringing in some modern unique flavors. Find them at www.fosselmans.com on the web.
Highlights of the Flavor List: 40 flavors include Brown Butter, Macapuno (with creamy coconut flesh), Real Pistachio Nut, Real Tahitian Vanilla, plus monthly specials like Fresh Peach Sweet Corn, and Root Beer Ice Cream.
Salt and Straw in Portland, Oregon.
Described as a farm-to-cone ice cream shop, it’s all about the ingredients here, but there’s nothing plain or simple about Salt and Straw, and kids are clearly not their focus. You only have to read through the flavors list to understand what we mean. But even if you think their flavors sound terrible, you have to admit you are curious. Must try: sweet sticky rice sundae with carmelized bananas and cinnamon croutons. Visit on twitter @saltandstraw and on the web at www.saltandstraw.com.
Some of their popular flavors: Sea Salt Ice Cream with Caramel Ribbon, Cream of Bone Marrow with Smoked Cherries, Dandelion Sorbet with Spring Flowers, Pear with Blue Cheese and Sweet Heat Apricot Wheat Ale with Candied Peppers, and Arbequina Olive Oil. Don’t worry you can still get Singing Dog Double Fold Vanilla and Chocolate with Gooey Brownies if you’re less adventurous.
Prince Puckler’s in Eugene Oregon.
When President Obama wanted ice cream in Oregon, he came to Pucklers. Now this may seem somewhat ‘who cares’ to some people, but believe us, whoever advises the President on where to eat, knows what they’re talking about. It’s simple, it’s basic, and they’ve been making great ice cream in Oregon for almost forty years. Visit them on the web at princepucklers.com.
The flavor list: PP’s flavors veer more toward the traditional end of the spectrum, but you won’t get bored. Galaxy (Chocolate malt w/white chips and chocolate chips), Muddy River, Black Tiger Stripes, and Chai Tea add to the more traditional favorites like Fresh Bing Cherry, Mint Chip and Coconut.
Sweet Action in Denver, Colorado.
Denver has a lot of great ice cream to choose from, but we went with Sweet Action for our one to beat. The shop is simple and relatively frill-less but that’s because they’ve put all of their resources into amazing ice cream. A unique and very tempting flavor list served in their signature “hello my name is” pints. Visit them at sweetaction.com on the web and on twitter @sweetactionic.
Flavors to Check Out: Salted Butterscotch, Brown Sugar Banana, Stranahan’s Whiskey Brickle, After Dinner Mint, and Colorado Honey.
Morelli’s in Atlanta, Georgia.
It’s dense. It’s creamy. Their flavors are fun, sweet, and very kid friendly, but still manage to branch out from the traditional basics. Kind of ice cream on acid. And even though they’ve only been open since 2008, they’re already winning best of awards around Georgia and around the country. Find them on the web at www.morellisicecream.com.
Some of their flavor highlights include: Krispee Kreamier (described as hot Original Glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts mixed together in a creamy batter and turned into ice cream), Amarena Cherry, Balsamic Strawberry, Avocado, Sweet Potato Pie, East Indian Kulfi, and Elvis Lives, a concoction of handmade banana ice cream with peanut butter and chocolate chips.
Leopolds Ice Cream in Savannah, Georgia.
Leopolds may seem a tad bit cinematic, but that’s because it was designed and decorated by Academy Award nominated set designer Dan Lomino along with the owner Stratton Leopold, who also happens to be a film producer. The original shop, founded in 1919, closed in 1969. But Stratton reopened the business in 2004, using many of the original fixtures. All flavors are made on the premises, one batch at a time, using top-secret family recipes handed down from the original Leopold brothers. Visit them at leopoldsicecream.com on the web and @leopolds_ic on twitter.
Specialty Flavors: Iin addition to the basics you can get flavors like Chocolate Chewies and Cream, Rum Bisque, Honey Almond Creme, Girl Scout Thin Mint, Savannah Smiles, Sugar Plum Fairy and more.
Moomer’s in Traverse City, Michigan.
This is where you bring the family. The cows that made your ice cream are sitting right outside. It doesn’t get much fresher than that. Instead of focusing on wild unique flavors, the focus is on how fresh and pure their ice cream is. When you are that close to the cream, it’s hard to imagine getting anything other than vanilla, but don’t worry, they have lots of other choices too. Visit them on the web at moomers.com.
A few of their Specialty Flavors: Banana Bread, Cow Tracks, Blueberry Cheesecake, Cinnamon Bourbon, Peanut Butter Oreo, and White Chocolate Oreo.
Jeni’s Ice Cream in Columbus, Ohio.
Ohio has several great ice cream spots, and why wouldn’t they? It’s farm country. And Jeni’s is one of the best in the state. They build every recipe with luscious, Snowville milk and cream from cows that eat grass, and they call it ice cream you’d want to bathe in. Visit them on the web at jenis.com or on twitter @jenisicecreams.
Check out Jeni’s signature flavors: Goat Cheese with Roasted Cherries, Askinosie Dark Milk, Queen City Cayenne Chocolate, Wildberry Lavender, Black Coffee, Icelandic Happy Marriage Cake, and The Milkiest Chocolate in the World.
Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
Young’s is a working dairy farm, so you’re not going to get any fresher than this. All the ice cream is made right on the farm from a 15% butterfat mix so it’s dense, creamy and delicious. Award winning shakes, obviously. It’s a full family experience with a full year round calendar of events, miniature golf, kiddie corral picnic grounds and more. Visit them on the web at youngsdairy.com and on twitter @youngsdairy.
Some of their best flavors: Cherry Vanilla, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cow Patty and if there’s any place you want to experience the pure perfect vanilla, its here.
Homer’s Ice Cream in Wilmette, Illinois.
Started in 1935, Homer’s is an old fashioned restaurant and ice cream parlor that has stayed solid for almost 80 years. If infusions and gourmet flavors aren’t for you, you’ll be very happy with the great list of standards done right at Homer’s. Just great shakes, hot fudge sundaes and splits. It’s the kind of place you can take the kids after a ball game, and be treated to a real family, small town experience. Find them on the web at homersicecream.com.
Some of the specialty flavors: This is the kind of place where the old standards like Butter Pecan, Chocolate Chip, Heath Bar Crunch, and Rum Raisin are so good that you don’t need modern takes. But they do a few specialty flavors like Kona Hawaiian Coffee, Fresh Peach, Raspberry Chocolate Chip and Peppermint Stick are some of the favorites.
Toscanini’s in Cambridge, Massachussetts.
Opened in 1981 as a labor of love, they’ve grown to be one of the most talked about ice cream parlor’s in the country. The New York Times wrote that Toscanini’s was “the world’s best ice cream.” People Magazine said that they had the best vanilla ice cream in the US. Their style is a blend between sophisticated and fun and their sundaes are legendary. Find them at www.tosci.com on the web and on twitter @tosci.
Some of their most beloved flavors are: Burnt Caramel, Earl Grey, Vienna Cookie, The B3 (Brown Sugar, Browned Butter and Brownies), Sweet Cream, Rather Dark Chocolate, Butter Chip, and Goat Cheese Brownie.
Woodside Farm in Hockessin, Delaware.
There’s no fancy website with lots of pictures and logos, and the flavors are hung on a board daily, but if you’re in the mid-atlantic states, this is the place to go. Get the basic details at WoodsideFarmCreamery.com.
Check out the Flavor List: Some of the highlights are, their bacon ice cream (featured on the Food Network), Peanut Butter and Jelly, Motor Oil, Orange Honey Blossom, and Chocolate Coconut Almond, but don’t skip the basics here. It’s the quality of their cream that is the standout, so you can’t go wrong with vanilla and chocolate.
Ridgefield Ice Cream in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
The Ridgefield Ice Cream Shop will literally take you back in time. Ridgefield Ice Cream is one of those drive up, old school ice cream stands that specializes in soft server, and being the place to meet after dance recitals and little league. But it’s better than that. At Ridgefield, the ice cream machines are all vintage. Roadfood.com was the first to highlight the glory of RIC and its fanatical owner Felix Lechner who maintains the highest soft-serve standards in the country by vintage machines that are no longer made to create dense, high butterfat soft serve instead of air filled ice cream. Get details on how to visit on their local listing.