The 11 Coolest Artisanal Ice Cream Makers in America
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To take advantage of Chase Sapphire Preferred’s lucrative offer of 3x points on dining on the first Friday of every month, we regularly round up the best in food and drink. Since the temperature keeps rising, TPG Contributor Jason Kessler has highlighted the 11 most inventive artisanal ice cream makers all over America so you can keep your points total red-hot without melting down.
1. McConnell’s — Los Angeles
Started in Santa Barbara way back in 1949, this old-school dairy-turned-ice cream superstar has made a bigger splash in LA than three out of four Baldwin brothers, thanks to unbelievably high-quality ingredients and a flagship store at the burgeoning hipster foodie capital of Grand Central Market.
Best Flavor: Churros con Leche ($10/pint). Who thinks to throw churros in ice cream? McConnell’s does. Add in some Sri Lankan cinnamon and R.R. Lochead vanilla, and your new favorite flavor will have you dreaming of a Mexican street cart that lives in your freezer.
2. Salt & Straw — Portland, Oregon
In a city that constantly vows to keep itself weird, it’s no surprise that Salt & Straw is the top dog in PDX. Known for its hyper-local flavors, such as Pear & Blue Cheese to Arbequina Olive Oil, this place is certainly unique. Don’t worry — it also does classics like chocolate and vanilla, but those flavors are made with Oregon products like Singing Dog Vanilla (from Eugene) and Woodblock chocolate (from Portland).
Best Flavor: Stumptown Coffee & Burnside Bourbon ($9.50/pint). Stumptown has become a coffee giant all over the US, but it started in Portland, where Salt & Straw ice-cream genius Tyler Malek mixes it with Eastside Distilling’s Burnside Bourbon for a decidedly adult treat.
3. Humphry Slocombe — San Francisco
SF’s cult favorite ice cream maker fits in perfectly here on TPG, since it partnered with Virgin America last year, but the brand’s real claim to fame is a flavor list longer than most junior high honor rolls. Foie Gras, Peanut Butter Curry and Red Bean & Dr. Pepper are just a few of the crazy flavor concoctions these Bay Area creamsters have created.
Best Flavor: Sweet Summer Corn ($10/pint). Corn ice cream? Yep. Humphry Slocombe’s version is subtly sweet with just enough fresh corn flavor to let you know it’s there without being overwhelming.
4. Azucar — Miami
This Cuban ice cream parlor in Little Havana is barely four years old, but it’s charmed ice cream lovers all over South Florida with flavors based on the owners’ grandmother’s recipes. Go tropical with their avocado flavor (don’t knock it till you try it!) or stick to a Cuban classic like the Coca-Cola (like a Coke float in scoop form) or Café con Leche with Cuban coffee and chunks of Oreos mixed in.
Best Flavor: Abuela Maria® ($8/pint). Like a frozen version of the gorgeous guava-cheese pastries found all over Miami, creamy vanilla ice cream serves as the base for dollops of thick cream cheese, shining red guava and a crispy tea biscuit known as a galleta Maria.
5. Ruth & Phil’s — Chicago
For years you could find Ruth & Phil’s at Chicago-area farmers markets and grocery stores, but as of June, they’ve got their very own home in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood. Try the signature sour cream cinnamon ice cream or strawberry lemon basil sorbet to escape that sweltering Midwest humidity.
Best Flavor: Blueberry Cardamom($8.50/pint). It’s a seasonal flavor and the quantities are limited, so act fast or get left out in the
6. OddFellows — Brooklyn/New York City
It’s not every day that an award-winning pastry chef opens his own ice cream shop, but that’s exactly what happened with Sam Mason and OddFellows. The former pastry master at wd~50 is now using his considerable sugar skills to make oddball flavors like chorizo caramel swirl and “ants on a log,” a sorbet that folds raisins and peanut butter into a celery sorbet.
Best Flavor: Burnt Marshmallow ($12/pint). Imagine that you’re sitting by a campfire, laughing and roasting marshmallows with all of your friends. Now put that memory into a pint of ice cream and you’ve got Burnt Marshmallow.
7. Morelli’s — Atlanta
To call yourself Atlanta’s FAVORITE Ice Cream, you better be something special — and with 200+ flavors in rotation, Morelli’s definitely fits the bill. Created by a former pharmaceutical salesman, Morelli’s has been lauded by Bon Appetit Magazine, Fox News and Conan O’Brien himself for the outrageous gourmet flavors.
Best Flavor: Krispy Kreamier ($8/pint). Real Krispy Kreme Doughnuts are blended into this flavor. Must we say more? It’s not available all the time, so definitely call your local Morelli’s location to find out if they have it.
8. Melt Ice Creams — Dallas/Ft. Worth
This funky yellow shop was started by a former food photographer, and it serves six flavors a day, all made from local ingredients. Melt just opened a pop-up shop inside Urban Acre’s in the Oak Creek ‘hood, so now Dallas residents don’t have to drive to Fort Worth to get their fix.
Best Flavor: Li’l Spicy Peanut ($8/pint). If you like Thai peanut sauce with your chicken satay, you’ll love this ice cream filled with peanut butter, Thai spice and Sriracha to give it an extra kick.
9. Toscanini’s — Boston
A Boston institution, Toscanini’s has been scooping up award-winning ice cream in Cambridge’s Central Square since Reagan was in office. Burnt Caramel is the star of the show here, but with 32 flavors on display every day, you really can’t go wrong.
Best Flavor: Khulfee ($6.75/pint). As one of the first shops to really push the ice cream flavor envelope, Toscanini’s has been responsible for introducing exotic treats like khulfee to the general public; an Indian cardamom ice cream base gets mixed with pistachios and almonds for a true taste of the subcontinent (where it’s usually spelled kulfi).
10. Dolcezza — Washington, DC
For over a decade, Dolcezza has been serving up incredible gelato to DC residents, and they’ve grown from one little store in Georgetown to eight locations. For the freshest gelato you’ve ever had, hit up the factory shop in the Union Market neighborhood where you can get a taste of gelato fresh out of the machine.
Best Flavor: Roasted Strawberry ($11/pint). It’s summer in a pint.
11. Sweet Republic — Phoenix/Scottsdale
In a place like Arizona, ice cream is the perfect treat to combat the stifling heat, and Sweet Republic offers a refuge full of fantastic flavors. Go crazy and try the new bacon habanero avocado, or keep it simple with peanut butter chip or brownie swirl. As an added perk, you can even find them at PHX in Terminal 4!
Best Flavor: Real Mint Chip ($7.50/pint). While it’s not the most inventive flavor, you’ll forget all about that bright-green grocery flavor when you taste the wholesome goodness that is actual mint inside your ice cream.
Stay cool out there this month and feel free to share your favorite artisanal ice cream spots in the comments below!