Five Best Ice Cream spots in Manhattan
One of the things we’ve had trouble getting used to since moving to Westchester is the scarcity of 24 hour ice cream spots. That’s honestly one of the first things we look for when traveling. Anything that’s open 24 hours near where we’re staying, but mainly coffee, and ice cream.
When we took off last minute for a weekend in Chicago, and our room was less than stellar and the weather was much colder then we packed for.. a nearby Baskin Robbins saved the mood! Sometimes, it’s just 2am and it’s been a chocolate peanut butter kind of day ya know?
So driving around the Lower Hudson Valley at all hours of the night (during a pandemic!) we learned that not every Dunkin is 24 hours and ever fewer have a Baskin Robbins attached. 😭 We usually wind up heading south into Manhattan in search of frozen mood elevators / throat soother in the winter time. These five spots are always worth the trip.
We’ve been VanLeeuwen fans since that meant chasing that pale yellow truck around Manhattan. Now, with 17 locations in NYC it’s much easier to get your hands on the purest form of chocolate or vanilla ice cream imaginable. Vanilla gets a bad rap as a ‘boring’ flavor but we can promise VL vanilla will get an eyebrow raise from even the poshest palates.
No worries if you need a little more adventure in your ice cream. There’s a lineup of seasonal flavors like Pumpkin Cheesecake, and Bourbon Vanilla Apple Crisp, (OMG. this one.) to bliss out on. There’s a menu of vegan and gluten free flavors as well which is much appreciated. Not just one or two tossed up there as an afterthought. VanLeeuwen is a bit spendy at around $7 for a scoop, but it’s a scoop of real, honest ingredients. Nothing creepy. Worth every last penny. Our hands down faves are Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Earl Grey.
Mile high swirls of ice cream topped with cereals and in some cases whole cookies are the claim to fame at this photo-friendly spot. The flavor range is simple but sumptuous. Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, with a few unique options like matcha, taro, and earl grey. They provide a rich, but not overly sweet foundation for their delightfully decadent concoctions.
Surreal is up to 3 locations in NY and NJ, but our fave is MacDougal St. for its proximity to the park. You’re going to need to sit down for this treat. Especially since we usually go for a super-shareable mason jar creation. (I’m a sucker for a you-keep-the-glass deal). No worries if you need your treats to be mobile. They’ve got bubble tea and milkshakes; as well as floteas, the best of both worlds. A crazy tall cup half filled with bubble tea and filled the rest of the way with ice cream. Ok, you might still have to sit for that last one 😋
I had heard this name in passing and banked it away in my must-check-out file for future reference. . . .forgetting the actual name almost immediately. We walked past it randomly one afternoon and it clicked. I knew we HAD to try it before I forgot again.
Their flavors range from simple vanilla, chocolate yumminess, to more interesting options like charred banana, cinnamon whiskey and Salt & Pepper Pine Nut. They’ve also got a stellar lineup of sundaes and blended drinks if you’re looking for something more decadent.
I went with Vietnamese coffee, and at first taste, I hit a time warp. I was 11 years old for a split second. Eating noodles at my Auntie’s place and stealing a sip of her drink. Whichever flavor you choose, there’s no debating, ice cream with the potential for time travel is MAGICAL.
Il Laboratorio del Gelato
There’s no downplaying the wildness of flavors here. The menu is sectioned into niche categories like “cheese/savory” and “spirits/liqueur/beer”. Honestly, you need to see this to believe it: www.laboratoriodelgelato.com/gelato-flavors.
You can, of course pop in for a scoop of vanilla (listed under “Sweet”) or if you lean toward chocolate, you’ll have 15 options to choose from. The standard order includes two mini scoops, so you can try a couple flavors at a time. The lab technicians are more than happy to suggest complementary flavors to ensure maximum deliciousness!
We usually stick to chocolate peanut butter or coffee flavors, because we love simple high quality ice cream. But it’s only a matter of time before we give in to the siren song of the ‘fruit’ section hellloooo Fuji Apple! If you’re feeling adventurous you can check out unique flavors like Honey acacia, tarragon pink pepper, or ricotta.
Thai rolled ice cream seems like a trend that came and went. These spots popped up everywhere a few years ago and then sorta fell off the radar. Well, not ours. We’ve hit countless rolled ice cream parlors across the 5 boroughs and 10 Below positively reigns supreme. Key Lime is one of our absolute faves. If you can pull off a citrus cream, you’ve earned respect in the ice cream game.
The $7 price tag is a bit of a splurge, but it does include unlimited toppings, and a show! You’ll hear your name called when your order is being prepared so you can step up to the counter and watch your mix-ins get sliced, diced, smushed, and smoothed out as a perfect ice cream pancake on the anti-griddle before being cut and rolled into your cup. Choose your sauces and toppings and head out with a personalized little treat, feeling like an only child on Christmas morning.
The ice cream is light and sweet, as opposed to the thick, heavy, syrup laden atrocities suffered in search of these precious rolls closer to home >_> and TBH, the little touches get me every time. When you order s’mores, they put your teddy grahams standing up in each roll instead of just tossing them in. Come on that’s cute AF! I’ll take a little extra chuckle with my goodies any day.
**Update the cute little spot on 8th has since closed and 10 Below can (currently) only be found in the Pennsy Food Hall. GREAT for them, and we hope they are doing gangbusters business. The asterisk is because we haven’t been to the new location. Perpetually wary of food halls @ touristy locations, we’ll be heading down soon to check this out and make sure the rolls are still light and delectable; for uhhh. . .research purposes 😋
What’s your fave ice cream spot? Let us know down below 👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽