There’s nothing more whimsical or reminiscent of childhood than a good ice cream cone. Fortunately, like pizza, ice cream is something of a religion in New York City, whether you’re a kid or an adult. As a result, the best ice cream in NYC runs the gamut from experimental and edgy to foreign-inspired with All-American flavors.
Basically, there’s something for every palate and age bracket here in America’s best food city. You just have to know where to look! Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. 🙂
Below, we spotlight the best ice cream shops in New York City– in no particular order.
^ These are easily the coolest places to grab a cone or scoop in the city– especially if you’re looking for something unique that you can’t find anywhere else. Here, like most aspects of the NYC food scene, ice cream takes on a creative dimension.
If you can imagine it, it exists here. As a result, there are SO many places to explore, but nothing on this list will disappoint.
Below, we spotlight the weirdest, coolest, most unique ice cream shops in NYC. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love them all.
Bookmark this list for easy reference later!
Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
If you haven’t already heard of Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, you likely know it as “the place with the black ice cream” before the black ice cream was banned by the FDA because of a complicated regulatory issue.
Setting that one issue aside, Morgenstern’s is a high concept “New American Ice Cream Parlor” with two locations downtown– a flagship on W. Houston, and the original blue, glass-fronted parlor on Rivington Street.
The jet-black Coconut Ash ice cream may have made this artisan scoop shop an Internet sensation, but foodies consistently return to Morgenstern’s for the innovative, artisanal flavors that feel very “New York.”
Choose from flavors like Raw Milk, Salt & Pepper Pinenut, Chocolate Oat, Burnt Sage, Rockiest Road, Black Pepper Molasses Vanilla, Lavender Agave Vanilla, Yuzu Yamazaki, Mango Passion Rice, Peanut Hokie Pokie, and more. They also have a handful of “regular” American classics like Cookies n’ Cream, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Butter Pecan.
Also, there are also SO MANY creative toppings to choose from. And don’t even get us started on the sorbets! Mango Chili, Salted Melon, Pistachio Shiso, Apricot, Tahini, Labne, Cashew… the list goes on. This is not your momma’s ice cream parlor– but then again, nothing listed in this guide is.
Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream is essentially responsible for making vegan ice cream sexy in the city. They serve delicious dairy options as well as NYC’s best vegan ice cream made with cashew and coconut milk.
^ These come in a variety of classic flavors like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, and Salted Caramel. As a result, many locals regard Van Leeuwen as the best ice cream in NYC. Today, the trucks are staples at various fun, trendy community events in the city.
Look for Van Leeuwen’s roving pastel ice cream truck around the city– or visit any of their (stationary) scoop shops. Also, Van Leeuwen’s seasonal artisanal flavors– Brooklyn Brown Sugar Chunk, Earl Grey Tea, Honeycomb, and Mocha Cookie Crumble, at the time of this writing– are always excellent.
Don’t skip this place just because it’s vegan and you think it won’t be as good. Vegan ice cream is delicious– and they do have dairy-based flavors as well. Plus, they make all the ice cream fresh in Greenpoint, Brooklyn! (It doesn’t get more BK than that.)
Tucked away on a sleepy stretch of sidewalk across from Columbus Park in Chinatown, Eggloos‘ ice cream-filled Hong Kong-style waffles are best complemented by a simple matcha ice cream rose and one or two toppings like Viet coffee or Matcha drizzle.
Eggloo is a tiny little shop without much seating, but that’s okay because when the weather is nice, there is nothing better than taking your ice-cream-stuffed-waffle across the street to sit on a park bench and watch the elders play cards and practice Tai Chi. It’s such a unique community experience.
Viva la Eggloo!
Ice cream, cereal, and sneakers. These are the makings of the hype machine that has propelled Kith to the forefront of Youth culture.
On weekends, an epic line of mostly teenage boys snakes its way up the stairs of Kith’s futuristic multi-level sneaker shop in SoHo, which seems (and with good reason) like the kind of place that Jaden Smith would hang out.
In addition to the sneakers, Kith also sells soft-serve ice cream with various combinations of sugar cereal toppings. Sneaker lovers may go crazy for what’s on the shelves, but for the sweet tooths among them, taking a picture of an iconic cereal sundae from Kith Treats has become a rite of passage.
For a certain subset of NYC’s Gen Z, going here is a symbol that you’re living your best life. The ice cream shop is on the second floor; sneakers are on the first.
If you go on a weekday you’ll avoid lines, but if you go on a weekend you’ll have more of an experience.
Also, Kith looks like a cross between a spaceship and an Apple Store. That is all.
If Eggloo wasn’t enough for you, Wowfulls‘ crazy, colorful stuffed waffle cones take the Hong Kong ice cream trend to the next level. Featuring an expanded menu of ice cream flavors and toppings, you’re sure to get decision paralysis at this multi-location New York City ice cream shop.
Wowfulls offers chocolate, coconut, red velvet, matcha, and original 1950’s-style bubble waffles (also known as Gai Dàn Jai), which are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
The toppings are a little overwhelming, and seem like they would mostly appeal to children who like to lose themselves in the candy store: think pocky sticks, sprinkles, teddy grahams, golden grahams, fruity pebbles, crushed Oreos, colored sugar, and a whole rainbow of colorful, flavored syrups.
Recently, the shop even started offering fried chicken-filled waffles. (In hindsight, this was inevitable.) Get your waffle with a a scoop of ice cream and some pocky for the classic experience.
Big Gay Ice Cream
As the name may suggest, there’s a lot of color going on that this New York native ice cream shop, which originally debuted their iconic rainbow sprinkles and chocolate-covered “Salty Pimps”* in the East Village.
Today, Big Gay Ice Cream is one of the best ice cream shops in NYC, with multiple locations around the city– in the East Village, West Village, and Seaport. In 2013, they were named one of the Best Ice Cream Parlors in the World by USA Today.
Try their Dorothy cone: a velvety vanilla soft serve injected with dulce de leche and covered with crushed Nilla Wafers. Or, opt for a “Nutella Beast” from their milkshake menu.
(*Footnote: a “Salty Pimp” is Big Gay Ice Cream’s signature vanilla soft serve with a swirl of dulce de leche dipped in a crunchy chocolate shell.) These are solid, safe flavors for purists and picky eaters.
Soft Swerve is a self-described “urban” ice cream shop serving Asian-inspired ice cream flavors like Ube purple yam, matcha, lychee, and black sesame along with toppings like mochi, condensed milk, and fruity pebbles.
At this Lower East Side scoop shop, opt for an epic “swirl”, which is when they fold currents of matcha, black sesame, lychee, or Ube throughout the ice cream, if you so choose.
Also, you can top your cone (black chocolate or red classic) with “crunchy”, “chewy”, or “drizzle” options like Skor Toffee, salted caramel bits, or dark chocolate.
The limited menu here is very niche, but if you’ve ever had ice cream in Asia– or if it’s on your Bucket List!– this is a great place to get the same vibe. It’s the swaggiest and most colorful ice cream shop in NYC, for sure.
OddFellows Ice Cream Co.
Brooklyn’s quirkiest ice cream maker, Oddfellows is known for making bougie but very Brooklyn flavors like olive oil, malt maitake peanut, chorizo caramel swirl, miso cherry, and vegan hazelnut ice cream. Even their raspberry pink peppercorn sorbet is popular, made in small batches just like the rest of the ice cream.
In the summer, they also sometimes do hip-hop-inspired popsicles, like the iconic “Gin and Juice” and Rosé pops shown in the picture above. (Hello, Brooklyn!)
At the original Oddfellows location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, you can also grab and cone and walk down to S. 8th Street waterfront. Get your lick on while you take in the best view of Manhattan in all of Brooklyn. (Seriously, the Williamsburg Waterfront is the best– that’s one of the perks of going here!)
The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
The Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is decidedly the best place to get ice cream in Chinatown, and depending on your flavor preferences, it may even be the best ice cream in NYC!
This tiny walk-up ice cream bar has been around for decades, and their Black Sesame, Red Bean, and purple Taro flavors are all divine. Today, they have locations in Flushing, LES, and Chinatown, which is the place to go for the “real” experience. (You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the line out the door.)
Of course– because it’s Chinatown made– there’s no shortage of exotic fruit options, many culled from neighborhood street markets. These include Durian (a pungent but sweet fruit native to Southeast Asia), Don Tot (light n’ creamy Chinese egg custard), and Pandan (a Malaysian leaf often used to flavor sweet desserts).
^ These are all worth seeking out if you want to try something unique.
Above all, try the Zen Butter– a delicious peanut butter ice cream made with toasted sesame seeds. It’s an NYC classic you’re unlikely to see anywhere else.
Related: Want more sweet eats in NYC? Discover where to find New York City’s Best Cakes, Cookies, and the best-ever chocolate babka.
Want to go savory? Read our guide to the Best Asian Restaurants in NYC, and find out where to get the best dumplings, tacos, bagels, and more!
[…] As for the other restaurants in Chang’s empire: Momofuku Noodle Bar is one of the best places to eat in Columbus Circle. Kāwi offers Korean style plates and cocktails in Hudson Yards. Bar Wayō excels at Japanese style cocktails and bar bites in South Street Seaport. Fuku serves Downtown’s best fried chicken. Momofuku Ko is a tiny, walk-in bar that serves multi-course Asian-American small plates. And Momofuku Nishi in Chelsea specializes in gorgeous Italian plates, which is not technically Asian but the influence is there. (There’s also Momofuku restaurant group’s Milk Bar helmed by birthday cake queen Christina Tosi, but we’ll save dessert for later.) […]