Is there anything better than finding that perfect local ice cream shop? You feel like finally your humdrum town has got something worthwhile and it gives you a delicious cold snack to look forward to at the end of an endlessly hot day. We asked our writers who are spread out across the country to report back on their absolutely favorite local ice cream flavors. So if you’re nearby, I think you know what you need to do tonight. If you’re not, well what better excuse for a road trip is there than ice cream?
Lavender Honey, Creole Creamery
New Orleans, Louisiana
Creole Creamery easily boasts the best ice cream I’ve had across the country. From the southern flavors like bananas foster to the sorbets like blueberry mojito, there’s something for everyone. One of my favorite flavors that I came back to again and again while I was living in NOLA was the lavender honey. Slightly floral and not overly sweet, this ice cream is honestly perfection with every bite.
Pistachio, Purple Door Ice Cream
When I try to distinguish the difference between a good and great ice cream shop, I always go for the pistachio. You can either go really wrong (think bright green color and artificial aftertaste) or really right. Purple Door hits all the right notes, bursting with whole roasted nuts nestled in a creamy base that lets the namesake ingredient shine. Man, this stuff is good!
Nicollet Avenue Pothole, Sebastian Joe’s
Sebastian Joe’s is one of the best and most beloved ice cream shops in the Twin Cities, and this flavor, which is named for a prominent street in the city, is one of their bestsellers. As somebody who isn’t much of a chocolate lover, I was pleasantly surprised when it played more to my love of salty sweet than overwhelming chocolate. The addition of sea salt brightens up the deep chocolate flavor, and the crunch of Heath bar satisfies the need for texture.
Salted Caramel Crack, Ample Hills
New York, NY
All I can say is that this ice cream flavor is true to its name. It truly captures the flavor of a New Yorker at its best: bittersweet, intense, yet irresistible. A flavor you could never find anywhere else. After trying a scoop of Salted Caramel Crack, you’ll realize you’ve found everything you never knew you needed. Ample Hills is Brooklyn charm at its finest, a local favorite and the sweetest (no pun intended) city gem.
Tiger Stripe, Buck’s Ice Cream
Any University of Missouri (better known as Mizzou) student knows what you’re talking about when you say “Tiger Stripe Ice Cream,” and not just because they give it out to freshman for free right before school starts. It is the best mix of vanilla, chocolate, happiness, and rainbows. My only wish for this world is that more people had access to it (like me, right now). The best part? Tiger Stripe is made by Mizzou students, for Mizzou students. As an alumna of Mizzou, Tiger Stripe makes me proud of my alma mater (and thinking about it makes me really hungry).
Cookie Monster, Longford’s Ice Cream
Any Westchester resident will lecture you about Longford’s ice cream. It’s always my first and last stop when I go home. I’ve pretty much been raised by Longford’s ice cream and their “Cookie Monster” flavor. Every Rye child grows up with Cookie Monster ice cream. It’s chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, but it’s blue. Your face turns blue, your hands turn blue. You essentially become a Smurf. Kids love it. Parents tolerate it.
Graham Central Station, Whitey’s Ice Cream
Some of my favorite college memories are stopping at Whitey’s ice cream (excuse the name) in downtown Iowa City before it closed, sadly, my senior year (luckily, the Coralville mall location is still open). Their Graham Central Station flavor is what all of my dreams are made of. It’s hard to describe the taste (you really have to try it yourself) but it’s a lot like if someone took Golden Grahams cereal and turned it into ice cream. But way better, and with huge chunks of graham cracker pie crust inside. Luckily, the Hy-Vee grocery stores in Des Moines have it by the half gallon, so I’m still in luck when I have a random craving for it. It takes all my self control to not eat the whole container in one sitting.
Chocolate Shake, B-Bops
Des Moines, IA
B-Bops is technically a local burger joint (and a damn good one at that), but I go there primarily for the chocolate shakes. They’re the best chocolate shake I’ve ever eaten, no contest. I usually am a vanilla shake girl, but these are to die for. They taste a little bit like a mix between a malt and a shake, and have the perfect amount of chocolate. While you’re at it, you should grab a burger too, but this is a must-try if you’re ever in the area.
Peach Buttermilk, Big Spoon Creamery
Big Spoon Creamery started out as a small ice cream cart that would park at events around Birmingham, offering an assortment of fresh and creative ice cream sandwiches. Now they’ve expanded into a full-blown food truck, which offers sandwiches and different flavored cones. You can also order seasonal pints of ice cream via their website. Their best seller in the summer months? Peach Buttermilk ice cream made with actual Chilton County peaches. I may be biased, but do people in Alabama even go anywhere else to get their fresh peaches? Big Spoon also offers this popular flavor in ice cream sandwich form with homemade honey graham cookies. You have to eat ice cream pretty fast in the summer in the South, but that’s usually not a problem with Big Spoon. The melty mess is worth it.
Big thanks to Beth, Katy, Emily, Ella, Katy, Allie, and Rashi for taking one for the team and sampling all this ice cream. It’s tough life being a writer.