PHLGuide

The Best Soft Serve In Philadelphia

Where to get a frozen, swirly dessert in Philly.

The Best Soft Serve In Philadelphia guide image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Philly has a history of fantastic frozen desserts, including but not limited to the Choco Taco and water ice. But sometimes you just really want a creamy and silky smooth soft serve on a summery day. Fortunately, Philadelphia is home to some great soft serve spots, so we put together a list of our 14 favorite places. There are shops where you can load up your ice cream with mix-ins or toppings, get chocolate-dipped cones, or cover it in jimmies or sprinkles. 

THE SPOTS

photo credit: 1-900-ICE-CREAM

1-900-ICE-CREAM imageoverride image

1-900-ICE-CREAM

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A good cup or cone of soft serve makes you feel like you’re being wrapped in a cold blanket. That’s exactly how we feel after eating at 1-900-ICE CREAM, making it the best soft serve in town. The Rittenhouse spot has flavors like sort-of-salty chocolate, vanilla, twist, blueberry, and several take-home pints, and each spoonful is creamy, smooth, and full of delicious dairy.


With some of the best pizza in Philly, you can’t stop by Beddia and not get a thin-crust pie. But there’s another big reason to save room for dessert at this spot in Fishtown: the soft serve. They use 1-900-ICE-CREAM as their base, which means the rich dessert is just thick enough to hold your spoon in place. Beddia usually has just a few flavors like sweet cream or espresso, but it’s the only way to end a meal here. 


Outside of having some of the best food in the city, this Kensington Israeli grill has soft serve that's completely unforgettable. The brown sugar and vanilla blend is smooth, creamy, and comes topped with pistachio rice puffs that give it a little crunch. The only problem with the sour cherries floating around is that we’d like a jar full of them, please.


This Kensington Vietnamese cafe’s menu consists of fluffy egg sandwiches, spicy potatoes, frothy egg coffees, and crispy bánh mì. When you want a sweet pick-me-up between work meetings, though, they have pandan soft serve with a silky vanilla flavor and super smooth texture that’s made from pandan leaves steeped in coconut milk. You can only get some until 4pm when they close, so if you want that late-night summery soft serve, this isn’t the place. But if you need an early day pick-me-up that tastes perfectly sweet, a small cup topped with chili crunch or rainbow sprinkles is the way to go. 


C&C Creamery in Manayunk always has a line of people holding cones and cups full of their excellent vanilla, chocolate, twist, and pineapple Dole whip soft serve. The sizes here range from kiddie to a $4 large that’s a towering three-and-a-half scoops. And for just a few bucks, it’s a great deal that’s big enough to split between two people. 


With toppings like peanut butter cups, marshmallow cream, and gummy bears, Manayunk’s Chloe’s Corner has plenty of answers to the question, “What else can I drench this scoop in?” The ice cream stand is open until 1am on the weekend, which makes it a perfect place to stop after a night at nearby Manayunk Brewery Company. Outside of the simple regular and large sizes, they also fill up tubs of pints and quarts with a soft serve that is infinitely better than whatever you can find at the grocery store. 


With funnel cake, fresh baked cookies, water ice, and shakes on the menu, Powelton’s Coco’s Cookies and Creamery is the closest thing Philly has to a do-it-all dessert spot. For their soft serve, they have 50 toppings (wet and dry) that range from sugar cookies, caramel, and cereals like Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The are three flavor mainstays here—vanilla, chocolate, and swirl—that you can top with as many combinations as you can think of. 


You can get all kinds of frozen treats at this Passyunk Ave. shop, from the best sorbetto and gelati in town to cinnamon sugar donuts- and strawberry cheesecake-flavored sundaes. They also have some inexplicably smooth soft serve. Top your cup of twisty vanilla or chocolate with sprinkles, chocolate syrup, chocolate toffee bits, or a crunchy and graham crack dust they call “unicorn crumble.”


Fairmount Flavors serves desserts like water ice, ice cream cookie and waffle sandwiches, shakes, and even donuts. But it’s what you can do with your soft serve that really gets our attention. Outside of having flavors like Reese’s swirl, black raspberry, and maple walnut, you can pack all those options into chocolate cake, chocolate chip, and rainbow specialty cones. The soft serve is fat-free and the flavors constantly rotate, so if you see something you really like, just go for it. They also have toppings like fresh pineapple, whipped cream and cherry, and just about any type of candy.


At Frankford Hall, you can’t take soft serve to go. But since they have one of the outdoor patios in the city, why wouldn’t you want to sit at their long beer hall-style tables out back or near a fire pit during any night of the year? And considering it’s Pennsylvania law to have to eat a meal with any sit-down drink in Philly, it’s the perfect excuse to get a beer with a “meal” of chocolate and vanilla swirl soft serve. Your mom might not have considered that a balanced dinner when you were seven, but if the government says it’s legit, who are we to argue?


Both The Franklin Fountain and The Franklin Ice Cream Bar are full of antiques that make you feel like you stepped into a 1920s ice cream parlor or happen to be on the set of Peaky Blinders. This place feels pretty unique, especially because all your scoops or cones come in their signature Chinese takeout box. But when you want creamy soft serve instead of ice cream scoops, Franklin Ice Cream Bar is the way to go. You can have your soft serve dipped in chocolate, covered with sprinkles, or doused in old-school hot fudge, but anyway you get it is equally special, just like all the players on your third-grade soccer team.


The Igloo has two Philly locations—one in Fishtown and the other in Grad Hospital— and it’s one of those self-serve frozen yogurt spots where you make your own bowl. The staff is in charge of filling those huge cups with toppings, so you should get an absurd amount of stuff like gummy bears, Oreos, chocolate chips, and peanut butter cups. Flavors change every week and it’s best to rely on the boards hanging in their windows instead of their website for all the up-to-date options. 


Twistee Treat is literally the shape of a giant ice cream cone. So when standing in line, you already get a nice preview for whatever soft serve you’re about to grab. The cash-only Northeast spot has vanilla, chocolate, swirls of orange cream, and a few other rotating flavors that you can get every day. Dress up your cone with chocolate dippings, candies, chocolate jimmies, M&Ms, and a peanut sauce drizzle. A cone of their smooth and subtly sweet soft serve is perfect for a short trip to the waterfront at nearby Lander’s Point Park, where you can watch people cross the bridge into the land of endless diners and pumped gas.


Head to the side window at Small Oven Pastry Shop and choose from flavors like lemon-lime, Madagascar vanilla, lavender lemon palmier, and iced summer chia. The options here rotate weekly, so make sure you check their online calendar or you may hold the line up trying to decide. The smooth ice cream is a great way to close out a meal here after you’ve taken down one of their classic Philly sandwiches.

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