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10 top NYC restaurants secretly serving to-go ice cream this summer

Emma Orlow
Written by
Emma Orlow

Lately, when we go to a new restaurant, we can't stop thinking about ice cream. And it's not because of the widely-discussed deleted dairy scene from Season 2 of Big Little LiesTo find the best ice cream in NYC, you can hit up the usual spots: Morgenstern's, Sundaes and Cones or Ice & Vice, to name just a few. Of course, you can always order sumptuous scoops on dessert menus at full-service restaurants, too. But, beyond their banality, so often eating ice cream in a seated environment ruins what we love best about it in the first place: the drips you have to catch with your tongue and we inevitably get a little bit clinging to our hair, like a sticker. This season, however, top restaurants are innovating their ice cream offerings. In 2019, more and more fancyish sit-down spots have quietly been rolling out a way to savor their meal with secret to-go ice cream. No longer do you have to wait for an open reservation to lick up ice cream at these excellent restaurants. 

The following are the best clandestine spots to get high-end ice cream on-the-go. Hit them up before summer escapes us all!

1. Crown Shy (Financial District) 

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When we reviewed Crown Shy, we gave it four stars, in part because we were so floored by the dessert, a course we almost never order. In a recent print issue of Time Out New York, we wrote: "I’m not one to order just a scoop of ice cream after a meal, but something about pastry chef Renata Ameni’s satsuma orange flavor told me to reconsider. The dessert, served with a hat of toasted marshmallow and crumbles of honeycomb, tasted like a creamsicle; a big enough scoop for sharing." Word count didn't permit us to ramble on about the magical wonders of Ameni's ice cream—easily some of the best we've ever eaten in a restaurant. While you could cast off Crown Shy as a restaurant just for bankers in the area (it's a fine dining destination run by a Eleven Madison Park alum), the prices are extraordinarily fair. Plus, with the team now offering Ameni's ice cream to-go at lunchtime, it's worth the trek to the Financial District. Life-changing lunchtime flavors include strawberry sorbet with coconut and vanilla; apple sorbet with sticky toffee pudding; and roasted banana ice cream, caramel and peanut butter.

Price: Dessert is included in the $45 pre-fixe lunch menu offered at Crown Shy and the last course of ice cream, is offered to-go. If you choose to order it a la carte, it's $6 per scoop. 

70 Pine St, New York, NY 10005

2. TSISMIS (Lower East Side)

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Filipino fare under executive chef-owner Jappy Afzelius takes on Spanish, French and American influences with surprising touches. At this Lower East Side eatery, which boasts a tropical vibe, you can start a meal with Pinsit Fritos (crispy fried pork dumplings) and Kale Laing (instead of traditional taro leaves, Afzelius uses kale to sautee with shrimp paste and coconut milk) before moving on to dishes like the crowd-favorite adobo or the Pincit Bihon. This sleeper hit Lower East Side spot has secretly been offering ice cream flavors like ube and mango to-go. There's also the option to take their "Fruity Halo Halo" with coconut sorbet, tropical fruits and coconut juice, on-the-go.

Price: Scoops of ice cream are $3 each. The "Fruity Halo Halo" is $8.

143 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

3. King (West Village) 

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The humble elegance at chefs Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt's West Village restaurant, makes it one of the neighborhood's most pleasant experiences. This summer, the duo added a little-known to-go option to their menu, and we've got the scoop for you. While you don't need a secret code to get King's ice cream to-go, you do have know ahead of time, because there's no street-facing ice cream stand or stands directing you. Instead, you'll have head to King's kitchen back door and ask for one of their seasonal flavors like strawberries and cream, as well as butterscotch, wild honey and lavender, pain perdu and colonel (their version of a traditional dessert from South of France, where lemon sorbet is served with a shot of vodka over the top). The to-go cups are so cute you'll want to keep them as room decor...once you wash them out, of course. King will continue to offer their ice cream to-go, all-year-long. 

Price: $7 

18 King St, New York, NY 10014 

4. Win Son Bakery (East Williamsburg) 

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Josh Ku and Trigg Brown's East Williamsburg restaurant, Win Son proffers inventive takes on Taiwanese-American bites. This month, the duo opens a bakery located across the street. While the space is not officially open, on Sundays from 11am - 3pm, you can preview unique soft serve flavors like corn soft serve with lime zest, blackberry jam and puffed barley.

Price: $9

164 Graham Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11206

5. Misi (Williamsburg)

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It's hard to get much better pasta than what Missy Robbins offers at Lilia. So, when she decided to open Misi in Domino Park, critics found that the pasta didn't live up to hype nearly as much as other menu items, like stand-out gelato. But you don't have to wait weeks to be able to get a reservation at the restaurant to try the gelato for yourself. Instead, stop by Misi and order the gelato to eat while sitting at nearby North Brooklyn Farms. Available to-go flavors include: mint stracciatella, espresso, olive oil, toasted almond, chocolate, Fior Di Latte, pistachio and strawberries & cream. 

Price: $5

329 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249

6. Sunday in Brooklyn (Williamsburg)

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Since its opening, Sunday in Brooklyn has remained one of Brooklyn's best brunch spots, known for insanely fluffy pancakes. But few know that the beloved weekend spot has an ice cream stand with soft serve. Current flavors include s'mores with dark chocolate, toasted marshmallow and sugar crisps.

Price: $9

348 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249

7. Superiority Burger (East Village)

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Most people know how damn good Brooks Headley's Superiority Burger is. Not only is it one of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in New York, but one of the best spots, full stop. We spend nights dreaming about being there again, and I obviously have the t-shirt merch to prove it, too. Their gelato, however, is entirely underrated, despite Headley's chops as the former pastry chef at Del Posto. Flavors change daily, with recent options like slow roasted white nectarines and greenmarket raspberries with polenta gelato.

Price: $6

430 E 9th St, New York, NY 10009

8. Barboncino Pizza (Crown Heights)

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If you're in Crown Heights and hungry for a slice of pizza, Barboncino should be your pick. Neapolitan pies, fresh out of a wood-fire oven, are best finished off with ice cream. To get it done, head to the restaurant's new street-facing stand, which opened earlier this season. Flavors offered include key lime, cheesecake and red velvet cake. Take your cone to the Brooklyn Museum steps or even Prospect Park to lick up summer's end. 

Price: $5.50, $7.50 and $9. Milkshakes are $9 and sundaes (hot fudge and salted caramel) are $9.50, served in a waffle cup.

781 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

9. Mercado Little Spain (Hudson Yards)

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After dining at the full-service Leña or Spanish Diner at José Andrés' expansive Spanish food hall, head to his lesser-known ice cream stand. Dairy is offered two ways here: as soft serve (with flavors such as lemon with blueberries) and as a Spanish-style ice cream sandwich (flavor combos include cherries and cheesecake, coffee and banana and classic 'ole chocolate and vanilla).

Price: $9 for soft-serve, $7 for corte helado

10 Hudson Yards, NY 10001

10. The Bonnie (Astoria)

For the past three years, this Astoria favorite has quietly been offering to-go ice cream sandwiches. The Bonnie's rotating cookie and ice cream combos are conceptualized by Chef Nick Testa. Recent flavors include chocolate chip cookies and malted chocolate ice cream; Vanilla Snickerdoodle (infused with Bourbon) and Chocolate-Covered Strawberry (chocolate cookies, strawberry ice cream and Magic Shell drizzle). All of the sandwiches come in silver wrapping and you can eat them at the bar or on-the-go.

Price: $8
29-12 23rd Ave, Astoria, NY 11105

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