The best ice cream in DC, minus the brain freeze
During these dog days of summer (basically any day ending in -y in DC), there’s nothing like a sweet and delicious frozen treat to cool you down. With so many spots for summertime scoops, we've compiled a handy list of 10 local places to sample some of the best frozen confections in the city!
Chances are this ISN"T the ice cream you had as a kid. Bon Matcha is a trendy little window cafe with a small menu of soft serve matcha ice cream, as well as lattes and other specialty matcha drinks. Matcha is a form of green tea from Japan that has an earthy flavor with a bit of sweetness. The taste is very unique and different; you’ll either love it, or hate it! There’s the True Matcha, Misugaru (which is a multigrain powder with a malty, nutty flavor) and the Swirl which you can combine with one of the regular or seasonal flavors. If you’re looking for ice cream that is different or out of the box, this is a perfect authentic treat.
The frozen custard at Goodies is so amazing we couldn’t leave it off our list! This mobile ice creamery travels all around the District in an extremely Instagram-able 60’s themed food truck with a menu that pays homage to the early days of rock of roll. You can check daily locations on their social media. It might be the oldies music playing from the truck, but something about this treat just feels old fashioned and special.
The goodness starts with Goodies’ signature, Wisconsin-style custard; it’s decadently thick, rich and oh so creamery. There’s the “Johnnie B. Good” banana pudding shake, and the “Boogie Woogie,” a turtle pecan sundae that is a crowd favorite approved by Food Network. But the real standout is the Big Apple Donutwich. It’s a cinnamon sugar topped apple cider donut (a DC/Virginia favorite!) stuffed with their vanilla-bean custard, drizzled with salted caramel. Or sandwich your custard between a red velvet, chocolate, buttermilk, sprinkles, or maple bacon donut . . . we’re starting to drool just thinking about it. Grab a friend when you head to Goodies because the donutwich is definitely big enough to share. Mmm good, indeed!
The Black-owned ice shop across from Howard University has just about everything want to satisfy a sweet tooth craving. "Here’s the Scoop" sells everything from hand-dipped ice cream to milkshakes, to cookies and cakes. Decisions, decisions . . . Popular ice cream flavors include blueberry/pomegranate sorbet, salted caramel, mousse track, butter pecan, and birthday cake. And for the treats other than ice cream, their pound cake is a really big hit!
Ice Cream Jubilee (Multiple Locations)
Named one of America's best ice cream shops and voted Best Ice Cream in Washington, DC year after year, Ice Cream Jubilee delights with quirky unique flavors and great dairy free options. Inspired by international travels, decadent cocktails, and childhood memories, take your tastebuds on a journey with flavors like Cookies & Cookie Dough (its best-selling flavor), Thai Iced Tea, and Banana Bourbon Caramel. Seasonal flavors include Blueberry Pie, Boozy Eggnog, Marionberry and Chocolate Matzo Crack. The menu changes every few months, but classics like Caramel Popcorn, Fresh Minty Chip and Bold Vanilla are always available. Add a warm, homemade chocolate chip walnut cookie and top it with your favorite ice cream flavor for a wonderfully indulgent treat.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Give it up the OG Dairy Queen! Founder Jeni Bauer started making artisanal ice cream with all-natural dairy and uber-creative ingredients before small-batch creameries were even a thing. Plan to find a line out the door, but the smell of freshly made waffle cones will hold you over as you wait for this extremely popular U Street spot. It’s Insta-worthy decor aside, Jeni’s ice cream has attracted a loyal following for its rich creaminess and unusual flavors. Fun flavors include Pumpkin 5-Spice made with kabocha squash and buttercup pumpkins, and Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso fashioned from ground espresso beans. One of our favorites is the Frose Sorbet, a sangria-style frozen rose, for a cool and boozy treat. We highly recommend it!
The uber-creamy Maine favorite arrived in Mount Pleasant two summers ago, bringing with it one of the best cookies and cream varieties in town, along with a White Russian flavor dubbed “the Dude” after the Big Lebowski. Scoops range from classics like strawberry and cookies and cream to more experimental flavors—coriander streusel with berries, spicy Thai chili coconut, and a blueberry sour cream crumble. One of the most popular is the Girl Scout-inspired Thin Mints flavor, with Callebaut chocolate and mint cookies baked on site. For those who can’t decide, get an ice cream flight. In addition to waffle and sugar cones, the ice cream is available in milkshake, float, and sundae form with sauces and toppings.
Nicecream (Multiple Locations)
Nicecream makes ice cream with a twist. The difference? It uses liquid nitrogen to flash-freeze ice cream; each serving is made to order. Liquid nitrogen is poured into a bowl of cream, milk, sugar and flavor-specific ingredients and immediately begins to evaporate, freezing the ice cream and sending clouds of gaseous nitrogen over the counter like a super-cool science experiment. Freezing times for different flavors vary, but each serving is finished within 30 to 60 seconds. Nicecream sells four flavors of ice cream a day, culled from a rotation of 70. They include bacon, honey lavender, strawberry, mint mojito, lemony Jenny and pistachio. Nicecream is super cool (pun intended!).
Pitango Gelato (Multiple locations)
There are a few cute gelato places in the District, but none are as authentic or delicious as Pitango. The homegrown chain Pitango prides itself on serving traditional gelato flavors, such as hazelnut and pistachio, as well as more modern interpretations such as dark chocolate sorbet and green tea. The gelato is made out of organic milk and cream from grass-fed cows on an organic farm in Pennsylvania. There are also tons of great dairy-free options here too (surprisingly including the dark chocolate!).
Remember the excitement you had as a kid when you went to the neighborhood ice cream stand? Southwest Soda Pop Shop is that place. A Black-owned, female run ice cream stand, it is a throwback with nostalgic treats including cones, floats, and chillers. Folks line up for the colorful, Insta-popping creations which include the “chip wich” and “cake explosions,” their signature parfait with layers of cake and ice cream plus toppings. You’ll need a camera and a spoon for this one! The walkup window also sells fruit smoothies, half-smokes, and of course, soda pop.
Thomas Sweet is an old time, mom and pop feeling shop, with something for everyone. It has blend-in options, endless toppings (Kit-Kats, Oreos, cookie dough, gummy bears you name it!) and even homemade fudge. This is the place to get your decadent, over the top ice dessert. Our favorite? The chocolate fudge brownie ice cream, stacked on a scoop of Oreo, inside a sprinkle dipped cone with Kit-Kats on top. Just con't tell your dentist.
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