There are plenty of childhood foods that we love well into adulthood, but few get our nostalgic hearts racing quite like ice cream. And luckily for frozen-treat lovers, you don’t have to go Usain Bolt–ing after Mister Softee for a licking of summer's best dessert—instead, head to one of New York's top parlors, doling out hopped-up scoops, gargantuan ice cream sundaes, food-truck favorites and a healthy dose of whimsy. Whether you're looking for an indulgent sundae to go with your iced coffee or a grab-and-go ice cream sandwich, we've got you covered with our guide to the best ice cream NYC has to offer.
Best ice cream in NYC
Plain-Jane flavors get their due at this soda-shop throwback from pastry-bag-wielding restaurateur Nicholas Morgenstern (Goat Town, El Rey): Scoop purists have four creamy, extremely vanilla-y vanillas (bourbon, Madagascar, burnt honey, French and rum raisin) to choose from. Succumb to the gluttony and get them all in the colossal King Kong Banana Split. $20
The behemoth, two-story follow-up to husband-and-wife team Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna’s Prospect Heights scoop shop churns out ever-changing, off-the-wall flavors that will please inner and actual kids alike. Snap Mallow Pop, an überrich, jet-puffed marshmallow number studded with crunchy, toasted rice-cereal nubs, is as comforting as a bake-sale Rice Krispies Treat. Single $4.95, double $6.95
There’s no fear of sugar overkill at this pint-size, circus-striped East Village outpost of the Brooklyn crowd-pleaser. Chef-owner Sam Mason (wd~50) tempers his greatest hits with savory and salty notes: Custardy caramel comes with a cholesterol-quivering swirl of meaty chorizo, and sweet cherry gets an oddball hit of smooth miso. Single $4, double $6
In addition to its full range of scoop flavors (chocolate, honeycomb, Sicilian pistachio)—churned with hormone-free milk sourced from upstate cows and piped into all-natural cones—the environmentally conscious ice cream café serves Toby’s Estate coffee (espresso and drip), and a rotating selection of fresh-baked pastries including Ovenly's vegan salted chocolate-chip cookies and Balthazar croissants. Small $5.25, large $7.25
Ice cream truckers Doug Quint and Bryan Petroff offer their quirky soft-serve creations in a small East Village shop, emblazoned with a giant rainbow-swirled cone. Find crowd favorites like the Salty Pimp (vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, sea salt and a chocolate dip) and the Bea Arthur (vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche and crushed ‘nilla wafers). $5.74
If Vice magazine had an ice cream annex, this would be it. Modern, dark and edgy, this experimental ice cream shop touts a rotating menu of envelope-pushing flavors like Bath Salts (lavender and pine stracciatella), American Beauty (crème fraîche and rose petal jam) and Opium Den (white sesame, toasted poppy seed and lemon bread crouton). Single $4.36, double $6.20
Pastry whiz Christina Tosi made her name in extreme, compulsively craveable treats like Compost Cookies and Crack Pie. And Milk Bar’s signature Cereal Milk soft serve gives us one more delectable reason to visit one of its six NYC locations. Made with milk, cornflakes, brown sugar and a hint of salt, this throwback treat is one part dessert, two parts nostalgia. $5
Inspired by Thai street food, these fresh made-to-order ice-cream rolls force you to rethink everything you thought you knew about ice cream. Choose one of eight rotating flavor combinations, then gaze in awe as your homemade liquid ice cream is poured onto a sub-zero cold plate where it gets mixed, flattened and scraped into five perfectly formed cylinders. Toppings are free and unlimited, so go ahead and add those Teddy Grahams to your heart’s content. $7
This Brooklyn bakery proudly serves coffee, cakes and decadent cookie-smashed ice cream sandwiches using seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible. Their signature sandwich—the Goodwich—showcases vanilla ice cream, drizzled fudge and a hint of sea salt between two colossal oat chocolate chunk cookies. $6
This colorful East Village outpost is the brainchild of graphic-designer-turned-dessert-maven David Yoo who takes his ice cream very seriously, churning out all-natural sweet cream-based parlor classics like Salted Caramel and Roasted Pistachio. But if you’re looking for high-gear decadence, go straight for their signature Peanut Butter Pie Milkshake—a heavenly blend of Mexican vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and an entire slice of peanut butter pie. $11
More ice cream in NYC stories
From insanely catchy pop music to "cakes" shaped like orbs of water, Japanese cultural imports continue to steal the show on social media stateside.