There’s probably a good reason why July is Ice Cream Month—anytime you walk out of your apartment or office, you probably can’t think of anything else except how to cool down. Fortunately, in New York City, icy desserts are as diverse as the arrival records on Ellis Island. We found 17 amazing options for you to savor (presented in no particular order).
1. Van Leeuwen
Plant-dotted wallpaper and wood furnishings make the honeycomb ice cream at Van Leeuwen fit right into the store, but the flavor stands out from the crowd. The honeycomb itself presents a mild, sweet honey flavor with a creamy finish, mixed with bits of handmade crunchy honey toffee. The longer the ice cream sits, the softer the toffee bits get, so eat it fast if you like the crunchy texture, or savor the creamy sweetness with a chewier end. $5.75 for a single scoop.
48 E. Seventh St. (between First and Second avenues), East Village, Manhattan
It’s a hot summer day and you’re wandering around looking for your iced coffee fix—skip the Starbucks and get the strong coffee ice cream at Davey’s. The word strong is no joke as the ice cream tastes like real mildly sweetened iced coffee, the strength of the coffee bean and all. And don’t worry about skipping the kick of caffeine, because the ice cream is caffeinated. It’s ice cream magic. $4.50 for a single scoop.
137 First Ave. (between St. Marks and East Ninth Street) East Village, Manhattan
Saying Extra Virgin Olive Oil Ice Cream is a mouthful, but it’s how you’ll want to eat it once you do—by the mouthful. The flavor comes in two parts. At first, it’s incredibly creamy, with hints of olive oil making a cameo just as the ice cream melts back into your throat. When you’re in the last half of your (first) scoop and your palate has eased into the milkiness, the olive oil starts to shine. Soon after that point, the air tastes like olive oil. We recommend you get it with the waffle cone, which is just sweet enough to bring out the savory flavor. $4 for a single scoop.
Flagship shop: 175 Kent Ave., Brooklyn, NY, 11249
Manhattan outpost: 75 E. Fourth St., East Village (between the Bowery and Second Avenue)
4. La Newyorkina
Mexican-inspired popsicles may sound foreign but even if only for bucket-list type reasons, the Mango-Chile Popsicle from La Newyorkina is a must-try. If anything, the Popsicle is edible proof that opposites attract. A bite of spice comes after an initial intense mango flavor, rounding out bold flavors all around. Depending on your spice tolerance, the spice builds up until it’s almost, or is, too much. You seem to forget the kick, though, when you go for another lick just for that sweet spiciness. It comes $3.50–$4, depending on the flavor.
Cart 1, High Line (between 17th and 18th streets) Chelsea, Manhattan.
More locations online: LaNewyorkina.com
5. Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory has been churning out ice creams made with Asian flavors for 30 years. Among the many different flavors are Durian, Pandan (Malaysian leaf), Taro, Green Tea, and Red Bean. Our favorite is the black sesame ice cream. The sesame seeds are hard to ignore, providing a crunchiness to the subtle flavor of the ice cream, and the flavor lingers in your mouth a long time. A small cup is $4.45.
65 Bayard St. Chinatown, Manhattan.
6. Luca & Bosco
Providing a creative touch to simple flavors, such as Milk Chocolate with Cinnamon, Luca & Bosco offers some fun combinations like goat cheese ice cream, Drunk & Salty Caramel, and rosemary olive oil. We particularly loved the Honey Lavender ice cream. It’s almost as if you’re eating a flower topped with a spoonful of honey. The floral lavender is assertive for the first five spoonfuls or so, then gives way to honey, so your palate doesn’t get bored with just one flavor. It comes in a $3.75 single scoop and $5.75 double scoop.
120 Essex St. (near the northern entrance to the Essex Street Market, between Rivington and Delancey), Lower East Side.
7. Melt Bakery
Melt Bakery’s ice cream sandwich features seasonal flavors and locally sourced ingredients. Get the Morticia, made with malted chocolate rum ice cream in cracked chocolate chip cookies. The cracks of the chocolate chip cookies are filled with sugar. Even if you keep it out for 10 minutes, it still won’t melt. Other flavors include the Classic (chocolate chip walnut cookies with vanilla ice cream) and the Lovelet (red velvet with cream cheese ice cream). A regular size ice cream sandwich is $5.
132 Orchard St. (between Rivington and Delancey streets), Lower East Side. Other locations at the High Line and Washington Square Park.
8. Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
For an adventurous experience, we headed over to Morgenstern’s. Some of its flavors are hard to imagine in ice cream form—spicy Szechuan Peppercorn chocolate or Banana Curry—which appeals all the more to our curiosity. Our favorite is the salted pretzel caramel: first, you taste the crunchy bits of pretzels. Soon after, you experience the bittersweet flavor of caramel, which balances well with the saltiness. There are three sizes to choose from—$4.50 for one dip, $6.50 for two dips, $8.50 for three dips (cup or cone).
2 Rivington St. (between the Bowery and Chrystie Street) Lower East Side.
9. Sundaes and Cones
Imagine a glass of orange Thai iced tea in frozen form sitting on top of a sprinkled waffle cone. That’s just one of the many Asian-inspired ice cream creations at Sundaes and Cones.
Among other flavors you’ll find durian, taro, and red bean. The flavors come $4.20 for 1 scoop, $6.10 for 2 scoops, $7.40 for 3 scoops.
95 E.10 St. (between Third and Fourth avenues), East Village.
10. DF Mavens
Lactose intolerant? Never fear. The DF in DF Mavens stands for dairy-free. Here the ice creams are made with a soymilk base, coconut milk base, or almond milk base—though you’d never know.
We happily sprung for the New Orleans Salted Praline flavor, for a satisfying sweet savory combo. A single cone is $6.56.
37 St. Marks Place (at Second Avenue), East Village.
One of the appeals of this gelato spot is the rose-shaped ice cream, and as many different ice cream flavors as there are petals on a rose.
That said, we fell hard for the season’s flavor lime-basil, like a refreshing drink of mojito (without the booze). A single cone runs $5.50.
60 University Place (at East 10th Street), Greenwich Village.
162 Eighth Ave. (at 18th Street), Chelsea.
12. Lemon Ice King of Corona
It’s called the king for a reason. Opened by Nicola Benfaremo in 1944, the ice stand is now an Italian ice mecca, and considered the gold standard of that classic American treat.
The Lemon Ice King serves more than 30 different flavors, but its namesake remains a standout. Spritzy and with just the right amount of sweetness, the Lemon ice is so melt-in-your-mouth good that it’ll be gone before you know it. The Coconut is equally refreshing, while the Rainbow (cherry, lemon, and blue raspberry) recalls the red, white, and blue popsicle from childhood visits to the ice cream truck—only less saccharine, which is a good thing. And just $1.50.
52-02 108th St., Corona, Queens.
13. El Bohio Grocery
Under the rumbling No. 7 train, in the front window of a small, unassuming grocery store, a middle-aged gentleman can be found swiftly scrapping a big block of ice and scooping the fine granules into cups, then pouring in generous amounts of syrup from multicolored glass bottles. This is raspado, a slushy-type dessert popular in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and other Latin American countries. A fellow patron tells me raspado draws long lines down the block on summer weekends, and for good reason: the sweet liquid mixed with fluffy ice is a cool, refreshing reprieve from the heat—like a nice summer breeze.
You can choose from: strawberry, orange, lemon, coconut, passion fruit, tamarind, vanilla, cherry, raspberry, and coconut with pineapple. If you fancy it, you can also have creamy condensed milk drizzled on top. Varying sizes, from $1.50 for a small cup up to $5 for a giant one.
98-17 39th Ave., Corona, Queens.
14. Las Americas Bakery
Cholado is an intensely sweet Colombian dessert that’s part fruit salad, part slushy. The version at Las Americas has mangoes, bananas, pineapple, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and strawberries, mixed with crushed ice, condensed milk, strawberry syrup, and shredded coconut, and topped with a maraschino cherry. Each sip of the liquid brings up a different taste of the fruit concoction. Whether it’s the fresh mango, sweet banana and condensed milk, or tart strawberry syrup, it’s bound to be delicious. One size fits all at $5.
4030 82nd St., Jackson Heights, Queens.
15.Red Ribbon Bakeshop
Like cholado, the Filipino dessert halo halo is a hodge-podge of many things, all delightful on their own, but even better when eaten together: a scoop of ice cream, fruits, a slice of leche flan, shaved ice, sugar-coated beans, jellies, condensed milk, and fruit syrups. At this Filipino bakery chain, they serve halo-halo with a dense mango ice cream that pairs perfectly with chunks of mango fruit (from the Philippines, which are sweeter than the varieties from the Northern Hemisphere) and bits of purple yam called “ube.” Eating this is like a treasure hunt: with each scoop, the different flavor and texture combinations will surprise you. And the price is $4.99.
65-02 Roosevelt Ave., Woodside, Queens.
16. Al Naimat
This Indian pastry shop makes its own “kulfi,” the Indian version of ice cream that is made from slowly simmering milk until it caramelizes. The resulting product is nuttier and creamier than Western-style ice cream, with a chewy texture. At first, the consistency feels strange and unfamiliar, but soon, the hints of cardamom and sweet milk will win you over, and you’ll be reconsidering going back to the usual kind of ice cream. Al Naimat sells popsicles in malai (milk), mango, and pistachio flavors. And it’s just $2 a pop.
3703 74th St., Jackson Heights, Queens.
17. Sky Cafe
“Es teler” is the Indonesian take on shaved ice. Filled with jackfruit, young coconut meat, avocado, basil seeds, nipa palm (palm tree) fruits, nata de coco, condensed milk, and fruit syrup, the drink is a taste of the tropics. It’s no wonder es teler is considered the national drink of Indonesia. If the first few sips are too sweet for your palate, wait until the shaved ice melts and waters down the syrup. And the price is $3.80.
8620 Whitney Ave., Elmhurst, Queens.