There’s nothing more whimsical or reminiscent of childhood than a good ice cream cone. Fortunately, in New York City, ice cream is king, whether you’re a kid or an adult. The best ice cream in NYC runs the gamut from experimental and edgy to foreign-inspired and All-American.
Basically, there’s something for every palate and age bracket in America’s best food city. You just have to know where to look.
Below, we spotlight what many consider the best ice cream shops in New York City. These are easily the coolest places to grab a cone or scoop– especially if you’re looking for something unique. 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 12 weirdest, coolest, most unique ice cream shops in NYC. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love them all.
Ice & Vice
Ice & Vice is an experimental ice cream shop on the Lower East Side that specializes in fruity-pebble crusted ice cream “pie” and quirky flavors like Coffee & Champagne (vanilla ice cream base with almonds, espresso crunch, and champagne fluff).
They also do chocolate-dipped ice cream sandwiches, and are known for stacking slices of pie and other baked goods onto their towering ice cream cones. It’s a whole thing.
If Ice & Vice has any claim to fame, it’s in making the “stacked” ice cream cone famous. They love to layer their cones with baked goods, as above.
As you can imagine, this kind of thing inevitably caught fire on Instagram, which is why Ice & Vice is still one of the most Instagrammed ice cream shops in the city. Try their delicious “Opium Den” ice cream (white sesame, toasted poppyseeds, and lemon bread croutons).
We also love the 9AM– Vietnamese coffee and donut truffles. Yes, the names of all their ice cream flavors are ridiculous. That’s part of the charm!
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.
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 Chinese elders play cards and practice Tai Chi. It’s such a unique community experience.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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 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. Many locals would consider them to make the best ice cream in NYC.
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 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. Plus, they make all the ice cream fresh in Greenpoint, Brooklyn! (It doesn’t get more BK than that.)
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!)
Koku Plant-Based Ice Cream
Koku is the kind of ice cream place that could only survive in New York or LA– or so the stereotype suggests. This completely “plant-based” ice cream pop-up also serves organic, dairy-free, refined-sugar-free coconut ice cream infused with superfood ingredients like wild blueberries and granola butter. (<—This is a purée of gluten-free oats, flax, olive oil, maple, coconut oil, sea salt and select spices.)
Ultimately, ice cream isn’t exactly healthy food, but the folks at Koku have created something pretty darn close. It’s quirky, creative, and delicious.
Favorite flavors at Koku’s SoHo storefront include Moringa Mint Chip, Dark Cacao with Reishi, and Toasted Coconut Butter. Be sure to order your scoop in a half coconut shell for the full experience.
However, be advised that Koku is currently only temporarily located at their Lafayette street location. This is a pop-up. To stay up-to-date with where they are moving next, check their website.
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? Check out our guide to 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 the city, and find out where to get the best dumplings and tacos.
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