Figuring out who serves the best ice cream in New York City can be tricky. This city is all about trends and ice cream tends to follow that wave—ever-changing not only in flavors but also in technique.
I can’t kick off my list of best ice cream without mentioning the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, which has been in business for over 28 years and serves everything from basic flavors to what they call more traditional Chinese flavors, such as taro, lychee, and don tot. It may not always receive the accolades deserving of an unofficial ice cream NYC landmark, but it certainly deserves a mention and a visit before making your way to other favorites, and newcomers, in town.
Van Leeuwan‘s vegan and classic ice cream and natural ingredients have quickly made it a favorite on both the eastern and western coasts of the United States. What started out as a sweet dream generously served out of an ice cream truck eight years ago has now become an experience of creamy goodness on a cone—or cup. No artificial flavors, no scientific tricks, just great ice cream with even greater ingredients that make up unique flavors, such as their pine ice cream with cornbread and red currant swirl. Or you can just get vanilla and chocolate.
I am a huge fan of soft serve ice cream and one of my favorite spots to get it is at Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. I’ve loved them since they first came into the food truck scene in 2009. Now they have different locations in the city, and a new one in Philadelphia. Though I prefer their soft serves, you can indulge in a variety of sweets, from frozen pops to ice cream sandwiches and milk shakes.
Want a taste of Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream? Stand in line. It is normal to find crowds of people waiting to taste the creamy scoops of inventive flavors served here, no matter what the weather. But, I guess with choices like “Black Ass Licorice” and “Bourbon Vanilla,” who can blame them?
Luckily, this is New York City and you only have to stand in long lines for an awesome treat if you want to.
One of other favorite spots to chill out and grab a bite is at Gotham West Market in Hell’s Kitchen, also home to Ample Hills Creamery. There are no long lines here, just old school, handmade ice cream that brings back memories of when old school, handmade ice cream was all anyone ever needed to feel true joy. My go-to flavor? The Mexican Hot Chocolate on a salted pretzel cone. If you make your way to their location at the High Line, make sure to indulge in their Sundae Pies!
Ice cream can be so much, even when in its simplest form. But now you know, whether you want to get super adventurous or just keep it old school, when in New York City remember, there is an ice cream cone with your name on it.
What are your favorite ice cream spots?