Summer is here! Whether you’re soaking up the sun at a local beach, taking a dip in the city’s pools, or staying inside with air conditioning on full blast, you deserve ice cream. With so many great places in the city, it’s almost impossible to actually pick one. But we’re here to help. Ahead, find some of our favorite scoop shops in New York City, from the iconic (The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, Big Gay Ice Cream) to the inventive (Malai, La Newyorkina).
Photo via Donny Tsang for Big Gay Ice Cream
1. Big Gay Ice Cream
Big Gay Ice Cream is one of New York City’s most iconic ice cream parlors- and with good reason. 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, but they also source ingredients locally whenever possible. Try inventive flavors like Tuma Buna, a coffee ice cream with turmeric and ginger candy created by local music producer Tuma Basa, and Buggin’ Out, a 90s hip-hop-inspired flavor that mixes up a nostalgic blend of malted vanilla milkshake, clusters of chocolate-covered Rice Krispies, and Raspberry coulis.
Photo via Oddfellows
Born out of one of the founder’s pregnancy cravings, Oddfellows boasts an impressive archive of flavors. Though the selection rotates daily, you might be lucky enough to brave a taste of Matcha Rocky Road, or Italian olive oil sweet cream ice cream. Get a scoop or two at Oddfellows’ locations at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 5, Dumbo, Domino Park in Williamsburg, or The People’s Beach at Jacob Riis Park.
Photo via Ollie’s Ice Cream + Stuff
4. 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 shop is known for making ice cream for both people and their canine friends. The shop, which opened its doors in 2019, offers dog-friendly sweet treats and “pup cups” made from ingredients like peanut butter and apples. Visit Ollie’s with your furry friend between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and between 12 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Photo via Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
5. Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
Founded by restaurateur and pastry chef Nicholas Morgenstern, Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream offers not only some of the most unique ice cream flavors (banana curry, anyone?) but also boasts one of the most extensive options, with 88 flavors available. With a retro Americana aesthetic, the small-batch ice cream is carefully crafted with a recipe made for each individual flavor. This summer, Morgenstern’s rolled out mouth-watering menu items that happen to pair perfectly with a cone or shake: classic burgers, fries, and pies. Explore the endless menu at the shop’s location on West Houston Street in Greenwich Village; the original Lower East Side shop is temporarily closed.
Photo via Taiyaki NYC
6. 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. Lucky for New Yorkers, the shop has three locations in New York City: Manhattan’s Chinatown, Williamsburg, and Flushing.
7. Tipsy Scoop
Half bar, half ice cream parlor, Tipsy Scoop’s “barlours” are the perfect way to enjoy a drink and a dessert, all in one. This spot’s ice cream puts a spin on classic cocktails, like their (c)old-fashioned, as well as innovative scoops, like their cake batter vodka martini ice cream. Turn up at Tipsy Scoop in Kips Bay, Williamsburg, and even Citi Field.
8. La Newyorkina
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. La Newyorkina has a permanent location on Commerce Street in Red Hook, with seasonal pop-ups found at Astor Place, the High Line, and Smorgasburg in Jersey City.
Photo via James and Karla Murray for 6sqft
9. Van Leeuwen
What began as an ice cream truck has turned into a mini ice cream empire. With 17 locations in New York City alone, Van Leeuwen has become a hit in the city for its fresh, original flavors and non-dairy options, which are not “just good vegan ice cream — it’s incredible ice cream that happens to be vegan,” as founder Laura O’Neill told 6sqft in a 2018 interview.
Photo via Soft Swerve NYC
10. 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. The shop’s Lower East Side and Kips Bay locations are open daily.
11. 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. Head to Mott Street in Chinatown for a sweet moment at Sweet Moment!
Photo via Kate Glicksberg for 6sqft
12. Ample Hills Creamery
Founded in 2011, Ample Hills 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, with a factory in Red Hook and a scoop shop across the Hudson in Jersey City. Can’t-miss flavors include Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, PB Wins the Cup, I Wanna Dance With Some Berry, Corn to Run, and more!
Photo via Sam’s Fried Ice Cream
13. 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
14. Stuffed Ice Cream
A dream for anyone with a sweet tooth, Stuffed Ice Cream combines two delectable desserts: ice cream and a glazed donut. The shop calls the creation a “cruff,” which includes any flavor ice cream of your choice and toppings stuffed into a toasted donut. Unique options include Thai Kwon Dough, a Thai Tea and Vietnamese Coffee with Almonds and Condensed Milk, The Mint Monster, Andes Peppermint and Cookie Monster with Oreos and Captain Crunch, and even Unicorn Poop, made with White Chocolate Lavender and Thai Tea with Fruity Pebbles.
Figuratively meaning “cream of the crop,” Malai offers flavors inspired by South Asian ingredients, providing a “taste of India in every bite.” Founder Pooja Bavishi draws on the spices of her childhood, like ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg, to create truly unique ice cream. The shop, located in Cobble Hill, offers both dairy and non-dairy options, with flavors like Rose with Cinnamon Roasted Almonds, Sweet Roti & Ghee, Turkish Coffee, and Spiced Peanut Crunch.
Photo via Blue Marble Ice Cream
16. Blue Marble Ice Cream
Created by two ice cream aficionados and former roommates, Blue Marble Ice Cream is known for its organic ice cream flavors. The premium 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. Find the flagship scoop shop on Underhill Avenue in Prospect Heights, at Industry City, and on the Upper West Side.
17. The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
Founded in 1978, the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is one of the longest-serving ice cream shops on our list. While the ice cream shop now has three locations, including on the Lower East Side and in Flushing, the Bayard Street location in Manhattan’s Chinatown is a must-visit for New Yorkers and tourists. The store may be tiny but the ice cream flavors are anything but. Inspired by traditional Chinese flavors, enjoy ice creams like Almond Cookie, Black Sesame, Lychee, Red Bean, Thai Iced Tea, and more.
18. Mikey Likes It Ice Cream
Mastermind and founder of Mikey Likes It Ice Cream, Michael “Mikey” Cole draws on pop culture to develop inventive flavors and has even created custom flavors for A-listers like Jay-Z. Using fresh ingredients sourced locally, the ice cream is always fresh and original, with flavors like Jack & Jill, a peanut butter ice cream with fresh strawberry preserves, Brady Bunch, which mixes banana pudding, Vienna Fingers, and crushed vanilla wafers, and Eat to Heal, a vegan flavor made with blueberry hibiscus ice cream with crushed pineapple and a swirl of cayenne pepper. Find Mikey Likes It on Avenue A in the East Village, on Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem, and at the Gotham West Market in Hell’s Kitchen.
In honor of National Ice Cream Day, Gotham West Market and Mikey Like It are teaming up to host an ice cream eating challenge on Sunday, July 18. Two competing teams will see who can eat the Mikey Likes It Ice Cream Waffle Tower, which includes 12 scoops of ice cream and four waffles stacked in between.
Editor’s note: The original version of this story was published on June 25, 2019, and has been updated.