Ice cream is inarguably the most delicious of all summer treats, whether it's slathered with booze or simply perched on a crunchy cake cone. And even though it seems like those self-serve frozen yogurt shops are out to stamp its full-fat forebear into the ground, there are still plenty of excellent spots in town to pick up your favorite dairy delight. Here are our favorites; we know you'll leave yours in the comments.
Courtesy Scoboco's flickr
BIG GAY ICE CREAM: For those of us who worship at the soft-serve altar, this native New Yorker is the top of the heap. Proprietors Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff got their start in town in 2009, serving up playful cups and cones out of a truck. The truck has since temporarily retired, but Quint and Petroff have opened two brick-and-mortar spots in the East and West Villages. Go for the classic Salty Pimp, a delectable chocolate-dip covered vanilla ice cream cone combined with Dulce de Leche and sea salt; they've also got a rotating shake list and a long list of toppings for DIY flavoring. Mister Softee ain't got nothing on this jam.
Big Gay Ice Cream has two locations in Manhattan: 125 East 7th Street between 1st Ave and Ave A in the East Village (212-533-9333, biggayicecream.com) and at 61 Grove Street at 7th Ave South in the West Village (212-414-0222, biggayicecream.com).
ODDFELLOWS: Year-old OddFellows's thing is homemade ice cream, and they dole out plenty of it, offering a long list of fresh, tasty and unique flavors at their Brooklyn and Manhattan shops. You can still get the semi-basics—Tahitian Vanilla, Coffee Crunch, Chocolate Chunk—but the OddFellows gang whips up a rotating list of more creative fare, like Buttermilk Spiced Apple; Lemon, Honey & Ginger; Black Chocolate Stout and Beet Goat Cheese & Candied Pistachio. And if you prefer your ice cream in semi-liquid form, the milkshakes here are otherwordly; indulge if you dare.
OddFellows has two locations in NYC: 175 Kent Ave between North 3rd and 4th Streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-599-0556, oddfellowsnyc.com) and at 75 East 4th Street between 2nd Ave and the Bowery (212-475-1812, oddfellowsnyc.com).
BLUE MARBLE: Blue Marble's another one of those organic Brooklyn shops, boasting creamy, mostly classic flavors. We went crazy over them last year when they started shelling out Burnt Sugar, a flavor transplanted all the way from Boston. They've got plenty of other five-star worthy offerings on tap, too: the Sweet Tart Strawberry is a particular favorite, along with chemical-free goodies like Banana Chip, Mexican Chocolate Chip and Butter Pecan. They've also got shakes and other ice-cream-ey treats, plus you can score tubs and pints at retailers around town.
Blue Marble has two scoop shops in Brooklyn: 186 Underhill Ave between Sterling Place and St. John's Place in Prospect Heights (718-399-6926, bluemarbleicecream.com) and at 196 Court Street between Congress and Wyckoff Streets in Cobble Hill (718) 858-0408, bluemarbleicecream.com).
EDDIE'S SWEET SHOP: This lovely decades-old Forest Hills ice cream parlor rocks it old school, complete with heaping sundaes topped with hot fudge and fresh-made whipped cream, classic egg creams, banana splits, thick shakes and sodas. All the ice cream here is homemade with palpable care, and there's plenty of room to sit at the restaurant's marble counter, metal stools and all. Cash only, because this baby rolls a VINTAGE cash register. Amazing.
Eddie's Sweet Shop is located at 105-29 Metropolitan Ave in Forest Hills, Queens (718-520-8514).
Ice cream (Gothamist)
VAN LEEUWEN ARTISAN ICE CREAM: We've given Van Leeuwen love for its stellar food truck before, and the fine organic ice cream served up at its brick-and-mortar stores hits the spot just the same. Van Leeuwen's stuff is made with hormone-and antibiotic-free milk and cream, along with egg yolks and cane sugar, so you don't have to feel bad for hurting all those cows with chemicals while you stuff your face with Mint Chip and Sweet Sticky Black Rice. Plus, they've got a solid line of vegan ice cream you can enjoy if you're off dairy, and the odd sorbet flavor or two, though the Greenpoint establishment did not have any last time I was in, FOR SHAME.
Van Leeuwen has two stores in Brooklyn, one in Manhattan, a pop-up shop in Williamsburg and a number of ice cream trucks; visit their website for details.
EGGER'S ICE CREAM PARLOR: A real old fashioned sundae shop is what you'll find at this Staten Island institution, which has been scooping and sprinkling and drizzling its sweet confections since the 1930s. Vintage metal bowls? Ancient lime-green milkshake machine? Wall of penny candy? Check, check, check. And their homemade ice cream isn't something to sniff at either; it's thick, rich and creamy, in flavors like Butter Pecan, Chocolate Mint Chip and the more contemporary Cake Batter. Get your 'scream in one of their voluptuous sundaes, splits and royals or get it perched atop a waffle or brownie, afloat in a sea of chocolate fudge or caramel sauce. They also do quality shakes, malteds and floats and offer more toppings than you can shake a stick at. Nell Casey
Eggers is located at 1194 Forest Avenue, Staten Island, 718 981-2110; website
AMPLE HILLS CREAMERY: Yes, we went totally nuts over Ample Hills's new Gowanus outpost, but that's only because this ice cream manufacturer is so damn DELICIOUS. The incredibly fresh-tasting dairy treats here are made with premium ingredients and come in fun, creative flavors, like Salted Crack Caramel, Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, and, for the new, two-story Gowanus outpost, the ultra-dark chocolate ice cream-based It Came From Gowanus flavor. Dear god, bring the defibrillators and bring them quick. Did we mention Ample Hills is named after a Walt Whitman poem? PEAK BROOKLYN, PEAK BROOKLYN.
Ample Hills has three locations in Brooklyn: 623 Vanderbilt Ave between Prospect Place and St. Marks Ave in Prospect Heights (347-240-3926, amplehills.com); at Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park and at 305 Nevins Street at Union Street in Gowanus (347-725-4061, amplehills.com).
ALCHEMY CREAMERY: For vegans and others who are forced to remain dairy-free, Alchemy Creamery serves up a pretty solid ice cream substitute. Flavors like Chocolate Chai, Salted Peanut Butter and Strawberries and Cream more than make up for their lack of cow product, boasting creamy interiors made with a solid blend of soy, coconut, almond, and cashew milks. Obviously, Alchemy's great for vegans, but for the few, proud and Lactose-Intolerant, Alchemy's product is the kind worth not making your stomach hurt.
Alchemy is located at 27 North 7th Street at Kent Ave in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (917-342-2677, alchemycreamery.com).
MAX AND MINA'S: Max and Mina's may not be the BEST ice cream shop in Queens (Hi, Eddie's Sweet Shop!) but it's certainly the most unique. The Flushing spot prides itself on creating incredibly original flavors, with offerings including Champagne, Honey Cinnamon Clove and a bright, bright blue Cookie Monster. No frills or promises of artisanal goodness, but the ice cream is beyond solid, and damn if that Beer flavor doesn't taste exactly like the bottle of Brooklyn Lager you drank last night.
Max and Mina's is located at 71-26 Main Street in Flushing, Queens (718-793-8629, maxandminasicecream.com).
IL LABORATORIO DEL GELATO: When I was a kid, my mother used to take me on a pilgrimage to Little Italy once a year, where we would feast on cookies and gelato at Ferrara Bakery and Cafe. There's not much left of Little Italy now, but you can still score delicious Italian-inspired at Il Laboratorio de Gelato. The Lower East Side shop boasts dozens and dozens of ice cream and sorbet flavors, ranging from the basic hazelnut and fruity offerings to sweet potato, kahlua and sambuca. It's a little firmer than real gelato—for that, head to a L'arte del Gelato cart in Chelsea Market, Lincoln Center or on the High Line—but the smooth, slow-churned stuff is still stellar enough to win it a spot on this list.
Il Laboratorio del Gelato is located at 188 Ludlow Street between East Houston and Stanton Streets on the Lower East Side (212) 343-9922, laboratoriodelgelato.com).
HONORABLE MENTION: THE CHAINS Premium ice cream is always a treat, but sometimes a body needs a basic vanilla cone doused in rainbow sprinkles. For that, head to one of Carvel's delectable, ever-dwindling retail shops, or spend a couple bucks on a Mets game and spring for ice cream in a souvenir cap [EDIT: Carvel's been taken over by Mister Softee at Citi Field! For shame.]. For something a little more convenient, a Mister Softee truck will do the job just fine (not those ripoff trucks, though. They are untrustworthy). Manhattan finally got a Dairy Queen, and if it's Italian ice you seek, head to Ralph's Italian Ice and Ice Cream—the shop got its start on Staten Island, and now has 80 outposts.