The Best Ice Cream In NYC

For a scoop of something cold, here’s where to go.

As you print out old photos from summers past and gently stroke them as if to say, “I’ll never forget you,” it’s important to remember that ice cream is still there for you. Plenty of ice cream spots around the city are open for takeout and delivery, including the best of the best.

Looking for soft serve? We have a guide for that too.

The Spots

When we first published this guide, the internet shamed us for excluding Caffe Panna. So, in order to fulfill our ice cream duties, we went and checked out this spot in Gramercy. Now we see why everyone was so worked up in the first place. The quality of the ingredients (like whipped cream made from imported Italian cream and fresh fruit from the Greenmarket in Union Square) and the range of flavors make this place stick out from any standard ice cream place. There are almost no simple options here, so expect to walk away holding an accessorized cup of pistachio fig affogato or an almond oreo sundae that’s loosely based on Italian tri-color cookies. It helps that all of the toppings are free, even coconut berry crunch and oreo brittle.

We only recently learned that Eddie’s Sweet Shop is the oldest ice cream parlor in New York City - but, in retrospect, this makes sense. With its chandeliers, vintage wallpaper, and pharmacy-like candy counter, this place looks as though it hasn’t changed in the past 90 years. In the 1950s, people probably came here and thought, “How quaint.” More importantly, however, this Forest Hills spot serves big scoops of dense, classic ice cream flavors, and their Banana Royal is a massive pile of ice cream topped with whipped cream and sprinkles. It’ll make you feel as if you’re in elementary school and you just won a spelling bee.

We have a hypothesis that Emack and Bolio’s menu went through R&D with a focus group of particularly imaginative six-year-olds. This may explain the fact that you can order your ice cream in a cone covered in fruit loops and marshmallows. Our advice here is to be as outrageous as possible with your flavor and topping decisions. You’re eating ice cream, not choosing an insurance plan.

Like all of the most respected 42-year-olds you know, the Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory has used its years to fine tune itself. Now there are three locations (Chinatown, the Lower East Side and in Flushing), all serving flavors like Chinese egg custard, red bean, and coconut fudge. While we love green tea oreo and the black sesame that comes with specks of sesame seeds, this is the kind of place where you should try new flavors every time you visit.

On a fundamental level, there are only two types of ice cream places. One type prioritizes base ice cream flavors, the other leans toward toppings and mix-ins (although this is, of course, a spectrum). For some reason, the latter also tends to have better names, and Mikey Likes It is a great example. Here, you can get a scoop of “Foxy Brown” with chocolate wafer cookies and a sea salt caramel swirl, or some “Pink Floyd” stuffed with strawberry and cheesecake. It’s a fun spot, and it’s perfect for when your standard ice cream place simply doesn’t have enough to offer.

Remember that ice cream spectrum we were talking about? Davey’s in East Village is at the other end of it. They serve straightforward flavors like strawberry, pistachio, and cookies & cream, and you can get any of these things in a banana split, a milkshake, or a brownie sundae with hot fudge. The lack of gimmicky toppings and mix-ins gives this place an old-school feel, despite the fact that it isn’t especially old - although if you’d like to try something a little more fun, you can always get a slice of peanut pie blended into a milkshake.

Known primarily for their paletas, La Newyorkina also serves scoops of ice cream - and if you ignore them, you need to reach inside yourself and wonder why that is. Once you’ve done this, order a scoop of horchata or Mexican chocolate ice cream, or get a sundae with caramelized banana and whipped cream. The ice cream at this Greenwich Village spot is rich and dense, and the tres leches flavor comes packed with chunks of cake that somehow stay fresh and fluffy, despite being frozen.

Taking ice cream to-go is no new concept at Lady Moo Moo. For years now, this Bed-Stuy spot has been serving things like banana pudding ice cream and yuzu lemon sorbet from a takeout window on the corner of Chauncey Street and Howard Avenue. But if you really want to know why this place is great, focus your attention on their “Rooftop Honey” flavor. It’s pretty simple, and tastes like creamy gold.

We don’t hand out awards for ice cream names, but if we did Sugar Hill Creamery’s A$AP Rocky Road would probably receive some sort of recognition. But you need to order it for the name alone. It’s stuffed with hazelnuts, marshmallows, brownies, and graham crackers, and it’s exactly what you want all over your face on a warm day in Harlem. Or, if you prefer, you can also get some peach cobbler, blueberry cheesecake, or strawberry ice cream with basil and lemon curds. Flavors change depending on the season, so check their website to see what’s available.

You don’t come to Brooklyn Farmacy for a scoop of vanilla on a sugar cone. You come to this soda fountain in Carroll Gardens for an embarrassingly large ice cream sundae with pretzel rods sticking out of its sides. And even though you’ll be eating it out of a large to-go cup instead of a glass dessert bowl this summer, the ice cream base of each sundae here will still give you a better understanding of what “velvety” really means.

Flavors don’t get too wild at Van Leeuwen, but each one tastes like its ingredient in its truest form. Your first lick of strawberry, for instance, might taste more like strawberries than an actual strawberry. It’s kind of like in the Gushers commercials from the ’90s where, after consumption, your head might morph into a plump fruit (in a pleasant way). We don’t know how that visual would manifest for the earl grey, but you need to at least ask for a sample of this delicate, but creamy flavor. And for non-dairy eaters, Van Leeuwen has some of the best vegan ice cream we‘ve ever tried. The coconut cream base isn’t too overpowering, and just as creamy as the dairy-filled original.

Dogs are great. Everyone loves dogs. So we fully support Ollie’s choice to serve ice cream for dogs. We have not, however, tried this dog ice cream, and we’re therefore only able to discuss Ollie’s ice cream for humans. It’s wonderful. Thick, sweet, and even slightly fluffy, it should be your go-to frozen dessert in Bushwick. Get a few scoops and bring them down the block to Maria Hernandez Park. The kettle corn flavor, with its salty caramel swirls, is especially worthwhile, as is the red velvet flavor, which doesn’t really taste like red velvet but is delicious nonetheless.

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