Summer is actually, officially here. Despite the recent rainy weather, the sun is out and the temperatures are finally hot enough to make you consider turning on your air conditioner. Or, you could beat the heat with a scoop of ice cream. With so many great places in the City, it’s almost impossible to actually pick one. Not to worry, we’ve rounded up 20 of the tastiest and most eccentric ice cream parlors in NYC.
Photo via Donny Tsang for Big Gay Ice Cream
1. Big Gay Ice Cream
Big Gay Ice Cream is one of the City’s most talked-about ice cream parlors- and with good reason. Their iconic rainbow packaging is practically a Village staple, and their flavors are as delicious as they are strangely named. Try the Salty Pimp, caramel surrounded by vanilla soft-serve and a chocolate shell, or American Globs, a Neil Gaiman-inspired cone stuffed with dark chocolate pretzels. Even better, you can find pints of some of their amazing flavors at a variety of local retailers, if you’d rather beat the heat from the comfort of your own apartment.
Image via Sugar Hill Creamery
2. Sugar Hill Creamery
Inspired by the “sweet life” enjoyed by the residents of Sugar Hill during the Harlem Renaissance, Sugar Hill Creamery’s biggest draw is the attention they give to both their products and the community around them. Not only do they try to give back to the community through various outreach initiatives, they also source ingredients locally whenever possible. Inventive, Carribean-inspired flavors like Despacito and Pon De Replay are made fresh at this family-owned ice cream parlor.
Photo via Oddfellows
Oddfellows has an origin story that’s as unusual as its daily rotating flavors. Born out of one of the founder’s pregnancy cravings, the store boasts an impressive archive of flavors. Though the selection rotates daily, you might be lucky enough to brave a taste of raspberry pink peppercorn sorbet, or extra virgin olive oil ice cream.
Photo via Noah Fecks for Republic of Booza
4. Republic of Booza
This Williamsburg-based shop stands apart from the crowd by serving something almost no one else in NYC does- Booza. Known as “the original ice cream,” Booza is made by combining traditional ice cream ingredients with ground orchid root and a natural resin to make a treat that’s not only creamy but stretchy. Although booza has historically only been available in one flavor, Republic of Booza serves their elastic ice cream in multiple flavors.
Photo via Ollie’s Ice Cream + Stuff
5. Ollie’s Ice Cream + Stuff
Humans shouldn’t have all the fun! At least, that’s what Ollie’s Ice Cream + Stuff thinks. The Bushwick-based ice cream parlor is known for making ice cream for both humans and their canine friends. Not only is this shop brand-new to Brooklyn, opening just under a month ago, but lines have a tendency to go out the door- so get there early.
Photo via Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
6. Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
Not often is it that you’ll find an ice cream spot that’s run by a long-term pastry chef. Nicholas Morgenstern’s flavors may be odd (banana curry, anyone?), but the ice cream is carefully crafted and the shop itself is adorably retro.
Photo via Taiyaki NYC
7. Taiyaki NYC
Taiyaki are Japanese fish-shaped pastries that symbolize prosperity and are usually given out during weddings and festivals. Taiyaki NYC has a distinctly summery take on these pastries and uses them as waffle cones to hold treats like matcha and sesame soft-serve, mini mochi bites, and sweet red bean paste.
8. Tipsy Scoop
Half bar, half ice cream parlor, Tipsy Scoop’s “barlors” are the perfect way to enjoy a drink and a dessert, all in one. This spot offers takes on classic drinks, like their (C)old fashioned, as well as innovative scoops, like their cake batter vodka martini ice cream.
Serving distinctly Mexican-inspired flavors, La Newyorkina puts a twist on your standard slushies and popsicles. Get a paleta, a Mexican-style ice pop, with flavors like horchata or mango-blackberry. Or, if you’re craving something salty and sweet, try a chamoyada, a frozen fruit slushie flavored with pickled plum juice and salted chile and served with a tamarind candy straw.
Photo via James and Karla Murray for 6sqft
10. Van Leeuwen
Van Leeuwen began as an ice cream truck, striving to serve cones that were made with simple, fresh ingredients. Now, Van Leeuwen has a mini ice cream empire, with over thirteen locations in the City and more coming soon. They’re best known for their vegan flavors, which are as good (if not better than) as their dairy flavors.
Photo via Soft Swerve NYC
11. Soft Swerve NYC
Soft Swerve’s colorful cones are an Instagram lover’s dream. Serving unconventional flavors like bright purple ube or Hong Kong milk tea, you can get your flavors swirled, covered in Fruity Pebbles, and served on a dark chocolate cone.
12. Sweet Moment NYC
Sweet Moment is best known for bingsoo: A Korean shaved ice cream served in little mountains and topped with fruit, condensed milk, or brownie bites. As a bonus, if you also need your caffeine fix- they serve lattes and milk tea with adorable foam art.
Photo via Grom
Plenty of places in NYC serve gelato, but not every shop can boast the authenticity of an Italian gelateria. The brainchild of two friends from Turin, Italy, Grom was created as a response to gelato loaded down with artificial sweeteners and emulsifiers. Their flavors are ones you’d find in a typical gelato place in Italy, but with all natural flavors and ingredients.
Photo via Costas Picadas
14. Ice Scream
The Bronx’s first nitrogen ice cream parlor, Ice Scream’s flavors are almost as whimsical as it’s neon and pastel interior. This spot uses nitrogen to instantly freeze their ice cream, leaving it denser and creamier than traditional scooped ice cream. Ice Scream’s philosophy is that eating ice cream should be fun, and with flavors like Unicorn and Cookie Monster, it’s easy to see why.
Photo via Kate Glicksberg for 6sqft
15. Ample Hills Creamery
Ample Hills was founded in 2011 and has quickly become a Brooklyn staple. What started as one couple’s dream of making ice cream has quickly expanded, with Ample Hills shops dotted all over Brooklyn and Manhattan, and a factory in Red Hook. Try their The Munchies flavor- all of their mix-ins are made from scratch, in-house.
16. Ice and Vice
Ice and Vice is all about experimental flavors. You won’t find basic chocolate or vanilla here. What you’ll get instead are flavors like Opium Den, white sesame with poppy seeds and lemon bread, or 9 am, Vietnamese coffee with donut truffles. Their seasonal menu is even more quirky, with ice creams based around flavors like cheese, corn, and ghost pepper.
Photo via Sam’s Fried Ice Cream
17. Sam’s Fried Ice Cream
Hot and cold, crunchy and creamy: Opposites you might not expect to find in ice cream. Sam’s Fried Ice Cream takes scoops of ice cream, rolls them in breadcrumbs or crushed cereal, and fries them. The resulting creation is incredibly indulgent and absolutely delicious.
Photo via Stuffed Ice Cream
18. Stuffed Ice Cream
Stuffed Ice Cream made headlines a few months ago by offering a limited-edition box of ice cream-filled dragon eggs, inspired by Game of Thrones. Although the finale aired weeks ago, this East Village-based parlor continues to serve equally insta-worthy treats. Try a Cruff, an ice cream sandwich on a donut, layered with fun toppings.
Photo via Blue Marble Ice Cream
19. Blue Marble Ice Cream
Created by two ice cream aficionados and former roommates, Blue Marble Ice Cream is known for their organic ice cream flavors. All of their ice cream is made locally, and the milk they use is both grass-fed and certified organic. As a bonus, they also run Blue Marble Dreams– a nonprofit dedicated to helping women in areas of conflict through ice cream.
Rose with cinnamon toasted almonds might not be the first thing you think of when naming ice cream flavors, but this Cobble Hill-based parlor is no stranger when it comes to eccentric flavors. Drawing inspiration from some of the spices in the founder’s childhood, this spot has mouthwatering flavors like golden turmeric and Turkish coffee.