If anyone ever asks me, “What are you truly passionate about?”, my answer is usually ice cream.
Once I threw a really big (and I mean BIG) party just so I could make a ton of ice cream flavors and have someone to eat them. We served about 10 flavors (all made by me in the weeks prior) out of my friend’s VW bus on the corner of the street and played music and ate in the front yard among a ton of friends and friends-of-friends, and I was truly happy.
Whenever I travel somewhere, of course I look up the best ice cream places in the area. And when my husband was applying for grad school programs, the proximity to world-famous ice cream shops was definitely a factor in my preference on schools he applied for. Hence, I put together this list. Read, then go, eat, be happy.
1. Cupcake Royale (Seattle)
Why it’s on the list: One simple reason — their Royale Extra Dark Chocolate ice cream. Unbelieeeevable. Creamy, fudgy…really almost like pudding.
What to get: The Royale Extra Dark Chocolate, obviously. Burnt Caramel is pretty amazing too.
2. Jeni’s Ice Cream (Ohio and lots of other places)
Why it’s on the list: Because I had $120 worth of ice cream shipped from their shop to my front door just so I could experience the beauty I saw on their website. I’ll never regret it.
What to get: Pistachio and Honey, The Buckeye State, Sweet Cream Biscuits & Peach Jam, Savannah Buttermint…really, you can’t go wrong.
3. Salt and Straw (Portland & L.A.)
Why it’s on the list: Because it’s clearly the reigning king of ridiculous creamy goodness that is both zany and always so so good. Salt and Straw is on any and every top ice cream shop list, and it wins on mine too! Their menu constantly changes, and I frequent their website just to see what kind of craziness they have up their sleeve.
What to get: Honey Balsamic Strawberry with Black Pepper, Cinnamon Snickerdoodle, Olive Oil
4. Bi-Rite Creamery (San Francisco)
Why it’s on the list: Long before I tasted Salt and Straw, Bi-Rite Creamery stole my heart. This place pretty much invented the Salted Caramel mania that runs rampant in the dessert world now, so that’s enough to earn them a spot on the list. Also, they have soft serve along with their other traditional ice cream flavors. Soft serve will always be my first love.
What to get: Salted caramel, of course! Or brown sugar with ginger caramel swirl, OR really pretty much anything.
5. Smitten (San Francisco)
Why it’s on the list: This ice cream shop in a shipping container gets a lot of attention for its unique method of making ice cream with liquid nitrogen, but rest assured, it’s no gimmick. Making ice cream on the spot, in such a fast process reduces the ice crystals and gives you the most creamy, pudding-like ice cream you’ll ever eat. Super rich, super good.
What to get: Absolutely get the TCHO chocolate with spicy caramel. Every seasonal flavor has been amazing too.
6. Humphry Slocombe (San Francisco)
Why it’s on the list: SF is my homeland, hence the many ice cream shops of the Bay on this list. Luckily, they have a lot of good ice cream. And this place is no exception.
What to get: Secret Breakfast, Cinnamon Brittle, Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip
7. Ample Hills Creamery (Brookyln)
Why it’s on the list: Because even though I’ve never been there I’m confident it belongs here! I may need to travel 3,000 miles to NYC just for a taste. There’s enough hype, mouthwatering flavor descriptions and Instagram photos to justify it. Trust me on this one. (While I trust the internet on this one.)
What to get: The Munchies, Nonna D’s Oatmeal Lace or Snap, Mallow, Pop. (The names!!)
And just to make it clear: sadly and strangely, there is no good ice cream in Utah. None. Mormons love ice cream. Ice cream dates are equal to meeting someone at the bar. Sooooo, you’d totally think….but, no. Maverick frozen yogurt is the best we got! Don’t get me wrong though, Maverick is go-oood. Pumpkin froyo every November, get it while it’s…cold.
(Photo via The Kitchn)