From France to Berlin, we found the best spots for ice cream around the world
30. McConnell’s — Santa Barbara, Calif.
“Mac” McConnell’s legendary hybrid French pot is where “universe’s finest ice cream”, according to McConnell's, was born. The secret to McConnell’s ice cream is the people who make it, creating classic flavors like vanilla bean and mint chip as well as unexpected ones like the tart-and-tangy Eureka lemon & marionberries, made with Oregon marionberries and infused with Eureka lemon. Peppermint Stick made with organic peppermint and peppermint candy is a customer favorite.
Image Credit: flickr/Lady Ducayne
29. Devon House — Kingston, Jamaica
Located in Kingston in the 19th-century-old former home of Jamaica’s first black millionaire, the Devon House ice cream stand serves 27 flavors, from the traditional like pistachio to some island-inspired like coconut and Soursop to even a flavor called Devon Stout, whis is flavoed with a local island beer.
Image Credit: flickr/Katie Thebeau
28. Il Gelato di San Crispino — Rome, Italy
Unless a local shows you where to go, it’s tricky to find Il Gelato di San Crispino, one of Rome’s oldest gelatarias, hidden down a narrow side lane just a few minutes walk from the Trevi fountain. But the search is worth the whiskey-flavored gelato and other exceptional flavors you’ll find there.
Image Credit: flickr/Tina_Sauwens
27. Sebastian Joe’s — Minneapolis
Sebastian Joe’s — founded in 1984 by three brothers, Tim, Todd, and Michael and named after their grandfather — aims to surprise. Their flavors change daily and the ice cream is packed into a homemade waffle cone dipped in Swiss chocolate and sprinkled with almond, coconut, Butterfinger, or Heath Bar.
Image Credit: flickr_jpellgen
26. 18 Smaker — Stockholm
18 Smaker founders Danne and Karin serve 18 ice cream flavors that rotate with the seasons and their cravings of the moment. “Mini balls,” which are golf ball-sized samplings of ice cream, are available for those who can’t decide on a flavor and want to try a few.
Image Credit: Credit: foursquare/TonatanA
25. Taos Cow — Arroyo Seco, N.M.
Specializing in all-natural, rGBH-free ice cream since 1993, Taos Cow mixes traditional flavors with local ingredients, creating southwestern-inspired flavors like Buffalo Chip (vanilla ice cream with dark chocolate-covered coffee beans) and a maple walnut made with real maple extract and walnuts.
Image Credit: TaosCow
24. Salt & Straw — Portland, Ore.
Made with little butterfat and sweetener, ice cream at Salt & Straw boasts strong, natural flavors like wildflower honey with ricotta and dandelion sorbet made with actual dandelions and elderflowers.
Image Credit: flickr/Rick-Chung
23. Caramello — Berlin
In addition to organic ice creams and sorbets, Caramello is known for its soy-based flavors and dairy-free options served daily.
Image Credit: flickr/Garrett-Ziegler
22. The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory — New York City
Historians tell us that the Chinese invented ice cream, and Chinatown Ice Cream Factory makes a good case for a long expertise in the craft with delicious flavors like black sesame, red bean, and Zen Butter.
Image Credit: flickr/Wally-Gobetz
21. Max & Mina’s — Flushing, N.Y.
Inspired by the recipes of their grandpa Max, an organic chemist, Bruce and Mark Becker of Max & Mina’s made it their mission to create more interesting ice cream flavors. You won’t find their bold and avant-garde combinations like Corn on the Cob and Cabernet Oreo anywhere else.
Image Credit: Max and Minas
20. Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream — Atlanta
From the caramelized peach ice cream made with real peaches to the cinnamon toast sundae, the treats at Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream are extravagant and one-of-a-kind. When opening in 2008, shop founders Donald and Clarissa Morelli's goal was to create the best and most unique ice cream in Atlanta.
Image Credit: Morelli's Ice Cream
19. Tepoznieves, Playa del Carmen — Mexico
The fruity ice cream flavors at Tepoznieves like cactus, pineapple-chili, and passion fruit are inspired by ingredients specific to the region. And for a bit of booziness in your ice cream, there are flavors like tequila and piña colada, made with alcohol.
Image Credit: flickr/nayee
18. Emporio La Rosa, Santiago — Chile
Whether you ask for one cup, two cups, or three cups, Emporio La Rosa is loved for its creative ice cream sundaes. Its signature sundae, Emporio’s Cup, is made with ulmo honey-infused ice cream, araucanian chocolate, and toasted almonds.
Image Credit: flickr/David-Berkowitz
17. Cow’s Creamery — Prince Edward Island, Canada
In addition to award-winning ice cream flavors, this Canadian creamery offers a behind-the-scenes tour of its step-by-step ice cream making process and a visit to the sample room to taste the newest “Wowie Cowie” flavors.
Image Credit: Creamery-by-Gav-Martell
16. Simmo’s Ice Creamery — Dunsborough, Australia
Simmo’s Ice Creamery went from a tiny father-and-son creamery, founded in 1993 with just an old Irish recipe and an ice cream machine, to an award-winning shop with over 60 traditional and unique ice cream flavors like “Mango Macadamia,” “Rum and Raisin,” and “Orange Chocolate Chip.”
Image Credit: SimmosIcecreamery
15. A.M. Scannapieco — Buenos Aires, Argentina
Serving more than 50 flavors of Italian gelato, including five dulce de leche varieties, and old-fashioned ice cream sodas since 1938, A.M. Scannapieco is still one of the best ice cream parlors around.
Image Credit: Heladeria-A.M.Scannapieco
14. Eddie’s Sweet Shop — Forest Hills, N.Y.
For old-fashioned ice cream, Eddie’s Sweet Shop is the place. This sweets shop will take you back to the good old days when whipped cream was made by hand, banana splits were served in metal bowls, and soda jerks could charm the girls right off their bar stools.
Image Credit: flickr/Joe-Shlabotnik
13. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams — Ohio and Nashville, Tenn.
James Beard Award-winning chef Jeni Britton Bauer and her crew, who call themselves ice cream explorers, began their search 13 years ago for the “best ice cream imaginable.” Their product, Jeni’s Spendid Ice Creams, serves ice creams, frozen yogurts, and sorbets, made from the ground up. Flavors like “Cedarwood Vanilla” and “Hot Toddy Sorbet” are inspired by the seasons, pop culture, culinary history, and world trends.
Image Credit: Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream
12. The Creamery — Cape Town, South Africa
“Honest-to-goodness, made-from-scratch, not-your-average ice cream” is what you’ll find at The Creamery, where all the ingredients in the ice cream come from local farms. For adventurous ice cream connoisseurs, every month The Creamery makes three limited edition flavors for its “Ice Cream Club” members. These flavors are special because they’re hard to make, they use ingredients that are available in small amounts, and they haven’t been introduced in the shop yet.
Image Credit: Kate-Schrire
11. Vaffelbageriet — Copenhagen, Denmark
Specializing in excess, Vaffelbageriet’s most popular item is the "Amerikaner," packing up to four scoops of ice cream in a cone and topped with syrup, whipped cream, and a chocolate-covered meringue puff. The more than 100-year-old ice cream shop makes ice creams from age-old recipes.
Image Credit: flickr/Christian-Hammer-Nielsen
10. Bi-Rite Creamery — San Francisco
Whether it’s brownies, peanut brittle, marshmallows, or snickerdoodles, Bi-Rite Creamery makes everything that goes in its handmade ice cream. At this San Francisco staple, ice cream comes in ice cream sandwiches, cakes, pies, and sundaes, and flavors like “Honey Lavender with Sonoma Honey,” “Vanilla with Madecasse Vanilla,” and “Brown Sugar with Ginger Caramel Swirl” are one-of-a-kind.
Image Credit: flickr/Jeffrey-Chiang
9. Murphy’s — Dingle, Ireland
Murphy’s crafts simple artisanal flavors that are designed to go together. You might pair chocolate with butterscotch, raspberry with Kerry cream, or sea salt with caramel.
Image Credit: Murphy's
8. CoolHaus — Culver City, Calif. — Pasadena, Calif. — New York City — Austin, T.X.
“Architecturally-inspired,” Coolhaus lets customers design their own gourmet ice cream “sammies” —one-layer, two-layer, or three-later — by mixing and matching cookie and ice cream flavors for crazy-good combinations like chocolate molten lava cake ice cream sandwiched between two carrot cake cookies.
Image Credit: flickr/Simon-Collison
7. Perché No! — Florence, Italy
Perché No! has been mixing a fresh batch of gelato every morning since it opened in 1939, featuring exotic flavors like “Mat-Cha green tea,” “Pineseed,” and “Cassata Siciliana,” made with ricotta cheese and candy fruits. The gelato shop is rumored to be Nigella Lawson’s favorite spot.
Image Credit: flickr/Simon-Collison
6. Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream — Seattle
At Molly Moon’s, ice cream flavors rotate with the seasons and ingredients are locally-sourced, introducing unusual, sweet-and-savory concoctions like “Stumptown Coffee,” “Kombucha Sorbet,” and “Cherry Goat Cheese.”
Image Credit: Molly Moon's
5.Big Gay Ice Cream — New York City
With names like “Salty Pimp” (vanilla soft-serve, dulce de leche, and sea salt dipped in chocolate) and “Mexican Affo'gay'to” (spicy hot chocolate with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, cayenne, and shaved chocolate), Big Gay Ice Cream serves up colorful soft-serve ice cream concoctions that almost always incorporate the same main ingredients: sea salt, Nutella, and dulce de leche.
Image Credit: Big Gay Ice Cream
4. Antico Caffè Spinnato — Palermo, Italy
The ice cream sandwich takes an unusual form at Antico Caffè Spinnato, where gelato is served on fresh-baked brioche bread.
Image Credit: flickr/Dorli-Photography
3. Vipiteno Gelateria — Sao Paulo
Vipiteno Gelateria is known for “The Demoiselle Cup,” a gelato sundae made of dulce de leche gelato topped with pear and ginger syrup, whipped cream, and crunchy burnt sugar. One scoop costs $10, so make it last.
Image Credit: Vipiteno Gelateria
2. Bar Gelateria Ercole — Pizzo, Italy
Nowhere else can you find tartufo (truffle) made like it is at Bar Gelateria Ercole. A spoonful of fudge is wrapped in ice cream or gelato, rolled in cocoa powder and sugar, and battered to create a gooey, chocolaty, ice cream treat.
Image Credit: Bar Gelateria Ercole
1. Fenocchio — Nice, France
This family-owned French ice cream parlor has been scooping up ice creams and sorbets since 1966. Serving 61 ice cream flavors and 34 sorbets, Fenocchio caters to the ice cream connoisseur with all the classics and even adventurous flavors like tomato-basil, cactus and avocado.
Image Credit: flickr/ellevalentine
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Ice cream has an extensive, storied, and international history. While its place of origin is unclear — everyone from the Arabs, the Chinese, and the Quakers has been credited with its creation — we know ice cream was once reserved as a luxurious treat for the elite, according to the International Dairy Foods Association. During the Roman Empire, Nero Claudius Caesar often sent servants into the mountains to fetch snow, which he had flavored with fruits and juices. More than 1,000 years later, Marco Polo is said to have returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe that closely resembled what is now known as sherbet. Once ice cream production became a bona fide industry, its popularity soared, prompting the boom of ice cream parlors and decadent ice cream creations.
Many of us have been chasing down the ice cream truck since we were kids. Why do we love ice cream — and its counterparts gelato, frozen yogurt, sorbet, sherbet, frozen custard, and ices — so much? Perhaps because nothing captures pure joy and innocence like a dripping ice cream cone on a summer day. Ice cream is a universal obsession. From the ever-expanding diversity of out-there flavors to ice cream sandwiches, pops, floats, and sundaes, the ice cream spectrum continues to expand around the globe. At the same time, ice cream makers are can be seen returning to their roots, often sourcing their cream closer to home from dairy farms that raise cows hormone-free. And while some toppings are so off-the-wall there's no way they could be natural, many shops opt for organic garnishes, resulting in unobstructed ecstasy in every lick.
Given all of the spectacular ice cream shops around the world, it's no easy task to narrow down a list of the best ones. Competition was fierce. But we have the scoop on the best parlors to satisfy your creamy cravings around the globe, and we're confident these parlors will live up to all your expectations. Our ice cream picks were selected based on five criteria. We looked at critical acclaim (any awards or recognition an ice cream shop has been given); the quality of ingredients (where they are sourced from and whether they are organic, dairy-free, etc.); originality (innovative approaches to making and serving ice cream); exceptional service (customer service that goes above and beyond); and customer experience (what people are saying about a shop).
Going off of last year's 25 Best Ice Cream Parlors Around the World, this year we added a few more shops to our list that we felt deserved recognition. Some additions, like CoolHaus, known for its design-your-own gourmet ice cream "sammies" and which came in at number eight (previously Murphy's), shined above many shops on last year's list, knocking them to a lower ranking, given competitive factors like customer experience and originality. Other renowned favorites like Bar Gelateria Ercole, (ranked number two) famous for its tartufo (truffle), remained at the top of our list given its proven exceptionality in all the criteria we considered.
Specializing in excess, Denmark's Vaffelbageriet's most popular item is the "Amerikaner," packing up to four scoops of ice cream in a cone and topped with syrup, whipped cream, and a chocolate-covered meringue puff. Simmo's Ice Creamery in Australia went from a tiny father-and-son creamery, founded in 1993 with just an old Irish recipe and an ice cream machine, to an award-winning shop with over 60 traditional and unique ice cream flavors like "Mango Macadamia," "Rum and Raisin," and "Orange Chocolate Chip." In Italy, the ice cream sandwich takes an unusual form at Antico Caffè Spinnato, where gelato is served on fresh-baked brioche bread.
Think we missed out on a time-honored ice cream parlor or celebrated newcomer? We're always on the lookout for new places and undiscovered gems that deserve to be celebrated so write us a note or comment on places we should be aware of below.
Check out the slideshow above for the world's best ice cream parlors.