The second half of our NYC Ice Cream Trip was spent visiting 7 ice cream shops in 24 hours. Luckily we were able to sample flavors at almost every location and in most cases bought 1 ice cream to share. Still, if you do the math that is A LOT of ice cream. We like to think we walked off most of it in the 12+ miles we walked between all of the shops and it was research so… Here are our opinions on the shops from best to worst!
I am still dreaming about this ice cream. It was both of our favorites by a long shot. They have unique, but not insane flavors that are all SO delicious. After sampling quite a few flavors such as Fluffernutter, Mint Chip and Ginger I actually ended up settling on a scoop of Honeycomb. It came out of left field as I didn’t think it would even be a contender, but it was to die for. Sandra had Earl Grey Tea which was amazing as well.
Van Leeuwen’s started out as a food truck in 2008 and has expanded to 5 stores in NYC/Brooklyn and 3 in LA. They describe their ice cream as “naturally perfect” since they use a base of fresh milk, cream, cane sugar and egg yolks. They also offer an impressive line of vegan ice cream flavors which were tasty too. We were very impressed with the dense, creamy texture as well as the strong and true flavors. I won’t be visiting NYC again without a stop at Van Leeuwen’s.
Truth be told we visited Ice & Vice solely based off our love for their Instagram account (hats off to the marketing and social media team, your efforts are clearly paying off), so we didn’t have any expectations for the ice cream. When we walked in we found that all of the flavors were off the charts on the crazy scale. But after sampling most of their offerings we came to the conclusion that they have weird flavors that impress – a very difficult thing to master in the food world. Some of our favorites were “Tico Time” (Pink Guava, Chili Lime Plantain Chip) and “9AM” (French Roast Coffee, Chicory, Saigon Cinnamon, Condensed Milk, Donut Truffle).
As you can tell the flavor names are also very creative which helps enhance the vibe they are going for. This was one of our last stops so we went a little crazy and got the “Detention Ice Cream Sandwich” (malted vanilla ice cream between a mexican chocolate brownie dusted with fruity pebbles). The mexican chocolate brownie had the perfect amount of spice and was a great compliment to the malted vanilla ice cream and the fruity pebble dust added another exciting twist. It was also easy to eat and not messy at all – a huge plus to any ice cream treat.
Founded by Nicholas Morgenstern, a self-made restauranteur, in 2014 they specialize in small batch, no additive ice cream. They ofter a wide variety of flavors, some are pretty unique like Green Tea Pistachio and Durian Banana, while others are classics like Chocolate and Coffee. The decor lends itself to an old fashioned ice cream parlor which stood out from the rest.
They have a Cold Stone-esk thing going on where they hand mix in some of their flavor mix-ins. For example, in the cup above, I had Caramel Sweet Potato Mello and the marshmallow fluff was hand mixed in to my scoop right before serving. The only negative was that the ice cream left a slight butter fat-like coating in our mouths, other than that we were impressed with their flavor selection as well as the rich, creamy texture.
Ample Hills Creamery is probably the most well known of all the ice cream shops we visited as well as the most accessible. Accessible meaning that it has many fun, kid-friendly flavors, displayed in a dipping cabinet where you can see what you are ordering. They also allow you to mix flavors even in their kiddie size. It was started by a young couple in 2011 and they have grown to 4 permanent and 2 seasonal locations between Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Most all of their flavors are chock-full of homemade add-ins. We sampled many of the flavors, and settled on splitting a kiddie cup of “Peppermint Pattie” and “Snap, Mallow, Pop”, a flavor reminiscent of a rice crispy treat. I ranked this one 4th because it is hard to judge the texture and quality of the ice cream itself due to all of the add-ins. That being said, we would go back and we think they will continue to be successful because they offer a classic ice cream experience that people of all ages can enjoy.
Started by a gay couple as an ice cream truck, Big Gay Ice Cream is the ultimate in soft serve. They offer a wide variety of cones and sundaes all with a base of chocolate, vanilla or twist. It is clear that the shop is all about fun from it’s festive decor to it’s funky sundae names. The culinary experience, as it relates to ice cream, is definitely lacking, but that is not their goal. It is also very accessible with common flavors and toppings.
They bring soft serve to a whole new level with their giant, unique sundae cones. We went with the “Monday Sundae”, twist soft serve, in a nutella lined waffle cone, topped with dulce de leche, sea salt and whipped cream. There are 2 Big Gay Ice Cream Shops in NYC as well as 1 in Philadelphia. It is one of a kind to say the least!
Stepping into familiar territory at this shop we were rather disappointed. I know what you are thinking, obviously we’re going to hate on the direct competition, but aside from the liquid nitrogen this place was the complete opposite of Nicecream Factory. The texture they achieve is what we would refer to as “over frozen” and hardly resembles that of ice cream.
The shop is modern and set up to franchise. The equipment is high tech and the process is smooth. They offer 8 flavors that are served as sundaes. We tried the Green Tea, their signature flavor, it is topped with green tea kit-kats, whipped cream and sprinkled with matcha powder. We could see how it is a fun place to bring your kids where they get a funky sundae made in a cool way, but as for the ice cream texture and taste we were not impressed.
The name says it all, this place is odd and so are many of their flavors. I may be unfairly putting them last due to a pretty terrible sampling I had of their “Ants on a Log” flavor… I am a big ants on a log fan, but some things should just not be ice cream flavors. It was a celery base with what I can only describe as pellets of peanut butter and tiny, soggy raisins – yuck.
After sampling a few more flavors we settled on “Oatmeal Cookie Dough”. It was ok, but nothing special. We were not impressed by the ice cream or the weird decor. But hey, people seem to like it and who are we to rain on anyones ice cream parade.
What’s your favorite NYC ice cream shop?