A Guide to the Best Ice Cream in Downtown NYC
For New Yorkers, for whom Summer means braving soaring temperatures and busy spaces, the simplicity of an ice cream cone on a sweltering day exists as one of the season’s greatest pleasures. From traditional to exotic, Manhattan’s parlors offer some of the most mouth watering flavors in the world. Just a quick walk across Houston Street you’ll find nearly a dozen parlors at your fingertips. In celebration of the New York City staple, The Roxy Hotel will be serving scoops out of a good old fashioned ice cream cart all summer long. On board is “Roxy Road,” a must try twist on the classic. Below we’ve compiled a list of downtown’s best offerings to satisfy every kind of sweet tooth.
Van Leeuwen’s Artisan Ice Cream
Van Leeuwen’s Artisan Ice Cream has a shop in the East Village, one in Brooklyn and a yellow truck, which drives around Downtown Manhattan. The mobile parlor, frequently found on Greene Street in SoHo, was their first iteration, which opened in the Spring of 2008 with the hope of reviving the quintessential ice cream truck experience. All ice cream served is made entirely from scratch in Greenpoint, Brooklyn using natural ingredients sourced from artisan producers and farmers. Unlike most places, the vegan options here are equally (if not more) delicious than those made from dairy.
Oddfellows Ice Cream Co.
Oddfellows Ice Cream Co. on Houston street is an ice cream maverick making some of the most unique and newfangled flavors. It a smaller outpost of the Brooklyn location, with an edited selection of 8 flavors on rotation. If you’re in the market for something strange, this is a must try. Their popular flavors span the spectrum of sweet and savory to include things like Blueberry Honey, Chorizo Caramel Swirl, Burnt Marshmallow and Miso Cherry. It sits just between Mott and Mulberry making it the perfect stop over during a downtown shopping trip.
75 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003 | https://www.oddfellowsnyc.com/
Il Laboratorio del Gelato
Il Laboratorio del Gelato is just that: a white walled lab with glistening machinery behind a plexiglass room. The shop is operated by a staff in stark white coats making customers feel like they are part of something truly scientific. At the front of the store the glass case is a rainbow of artisanal gelato and sorbets of the highest order: light, icy and rich with flavor. The portions are small but just as satisfying as a regular cone. Beyond the bench along the large windows there is not much seating inside, but luckily it’s located in the heart of the lower east side which makes for perfect evening strolls.
188 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002 | http://www.laboratoriodelgelato.com/thelab.php
Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
Morgenstern’s is a master of experimentation making it the perfect place for a fearless foodie. The interiors retain the charm of an old fashioned ice cream parlor, but the menu is something quite different. In true New York fashion they serve a jet black ice cream called Coconut Ash, with a rare synonymous ingredient of activated charcoal. The shop’s founder, Nick Morgenstern, is equal parts chef and scientist, always challenging himself to raze the limits of ice cream ingredients.
2 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002 | http://www.morgensternsnyc.com/
Davey’s Ice Cream Shop
Stop at Davey’s for something classic, and extremely well done. They keep things simple with a menu of strawberry, mint chip and chocolate, made with milk from Salem, New York and ingredients from local markets. While you won’t find any odd concoctions here, you will find something truly nostalgic that is sure to satisfy even the most picky of eaters. All the ice cream is made on site at their Manhattan or Brooklyn location making it a local favorite.
137 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10003 | https://www.daveysicecream.com/
Mikey Likes It Ice Cream
This quaint storefront on Avenue A was founded by a born-and-raised East Villager and former neighborhood marijuana dealer, according to his record. Most of the menu draws its inspiration from hip hop icons and their lyrics. One flavor, Sky’s the Limit, takes from the Notorious B.I.G. song and its lyric “The milk was chocolate, the cookies, butter crunch.” The small space is unpretentious and welcoming. There’s not much seating here either, but take your scoops over to Tompkins square park and enjoy outside.
199 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009 | https://mikeylikesiticecream.com/
The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory’s menu is what you might expect if you took the name literally. It is, precisely, a Chinatown take on ice cream. Under the main menu you’ll find an assortment of traditional Chinese flavors like herbal green tea, red bean, black sesame and fresh green avocado and under the “exotic” section things like chocolate, mint chip, strawberry and vanilla.
63 65 Bayard Street, New York, NY 10013 | http://www.chinatownicecreamfactory.com/
Ice & Vice
Ice & Vice is the ultimate reinterpretation of ice cream as more than vanilla, with a magical Willy Wonka appeal. Their Pork Your Melons ice cream, for example, features honeydew, prosciutto chips and white balsamic reduction. Among all of the unusual menus around, this is perhaps the most outlandish and as much a feast for the stomach as it is for the eyes. Vibrant colored cones and toppings keep it among the most Instagram worthy of all.
221 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002 | http://iceandvice.com/
Words by Jenny Hartman