It can be annoying how some residents of New York City like to brag about their city. It’s the best in the world, they say, as it has just about everything that any urban dweller could possibly want. What’s more, NYC tends to have the best of everything, including just about any type of food you might be craving.
It’s certainly true that NYC does have plenty of terrific ice cream shops, which can really make your days worthwhile during the summer. When the heat is getting to you and you’re looking for some frozen treats in Gotham, then try to visit the following ice cream shops:
Whipped Urban Dessert Lab
One of the facts that plenty of ice cream makers in NYC have to take into account is that about 3 out of every 4 members of the African-American community is lactose-intolerant. That’s a problem, since ice cream usually uses dairy.
This is the fact that was foremost in mind when the sisters Courtney Blagrove and Zan B.R. started out Whipped Urban Dessert Lab, which they intended as an ice cream alternative option for those looking for some dairy-free treats.
Their offerings are downright terrific, and they’re made from oat-milk. They offer creative options as well, including Strawberry Shortcake (coated with strawberry crumble & strawberry sauce) and Salted Pecans (coated with crushed salted pecans).
You do have to deal with the long lines in their Orchard Street location on the Lower East Side, but it’s worth the hassle.
Rita’s of Whitehall Ferry Terminal NY
This is the sole NYC branch of Rita’s Italian Ice, out of their more than 500 locations. Most of these locations are in Pennsylvania, but if you’re a New Yorker, here is where you go if you’re looking for some dairy-free, vegan ice treats.
Here, they offer Italian ice, soft serve, custard cookie sandwiches, misto, frozen custards, milkshakes, gelati, sundaes, and many other frozen treats that can help you deal with muggy days. shWith about 95 flavors to choose from, you won’t be bored with the variety of options. And, they’re healthier than regular ice cream. Add the reasonable prices (pricing info available), and it’s a solid choice for NYC.
In 2008, the brand simply had yellow ice cream trucks roaming all over NYC. Now they have locations all over the US, with 19 locations concentrated in Manhattan and Brooklyn. If you live in those areas, you won’t have to go too far to find a Van Leeuwen ice cream shop.
Their bestselling flavors are Sicilian Pistachio, Cookies and Cream, and Earl Grey Tea. You should also try the excellent Minty Chip and Honeycomb flavors. They also offer vegan options made with cashew or oat milk, such as their Rocky Road and Churros & Fudge. Just recently, they also started offering a limited-edition flavor named Coffee Affogato, in partnership with the Big Face coffee brand.
Sugar Hill Creamery
This is the ice cream shop that should be on your list if you live in Harlem. The husband-and-wife team behind the brand have lived in Harlem for a long time before they started this brand in 2017. It was their way of offering a nice hangout for their neighbors to enjoy artisanal ice cream which the couple made from scratch.
They do have rather imaginative names for various flavors, such as First Day Out (corn jalapeño with hibiscus blackberry), Chairperson of the Board (blueberry cheesecake), and Nunu’s Peach Cobbler (peach with cobbler crumbler).
Just recently, they opened a 2nd location in Hamilton Heights, and they’re now also available for nationwide shipping.
The brand was started by a bunch of buddies who were also Chinatown natives, back in 2016. They really made use of social media to boost their brand, as their signature swirl of their soft serve ice cream really looked great on Instagram posts.
The most popular flavors here include Ube Purple Yam, Black Sesame, and Frozen Hot Chocolate. Other top choices have names like Broadway and Woodside—these guys sure like to proclaim their loyalty to NYC.
Ray’s Candy Store
This is widely regarded as an East Village institution. In fact, that particular phrase (“East Village institution”) often specifically refers to Ray’s Candy Store. It’s been around since 1974, and it’s been famous as the candy store for adults.
This is a 24-hour joint, and owner and local celebrity Ray Alvarez can often be seen working late at night. This is a favorite hangout of night owls, like weekend warriors and bar-hoppers looking for a sweet treat before heading home.
When you come here, your top choices are either going for the soft serve ice cream or the sundae. But whatever you choose, make sure you also get either the popular Beignets or Deep-Fried Twinkies and Oreos.