Is there a better judge of ice cream than a pregnant lady? I had my fair share of pickles and Shake Shack when baby Alice was still in my belly, but ice cream was a constant. I made my own, stocked up at Whole Foods (there was always a min. of 3 flavors in my freezer), made time to try new places when traveling and became an expert on the scoop shops available in grand ol’ New York City. I ate so much ice cream that there is no possible way this little baby girl will ever have a dairy intolerance.
I’ll get right to it! Because why waste your time, when you could be well on your way over to Morgensterns? But there are a few parameters I structured my search with that you should know before you read on:
- Manhattan only. I did not want to sit in a hot subway car for longer than necessary so Brooklyn ice cream visits will have to wait – I know! – a bummer! There are some good ones, but you have to draw lines in the sand somewhere.
- I was in search of homemade ice cream only – no major chains, and no Instagram hot spots famous for piling as much sugar on a cone as possible.
- My rating system is completely made up based on how I felt after that first taste of ice cream. The most unscientific rating system you’ll ever see, but one you should trust with all your gut.
THE BEST ICE CREAM SHOPS IN NYC:
1. Morgensterns (SoHo/Bowery): One word of caution – go during the day to avoid to 45 min line! (I normally do not do lines. But for Morgensterns… yes.) But besides that — AMAZING ice cream. So many flavors and love how they are organized by ice cream base on their menu. It’s a cute shop (you will need to ignore some disgruntled employees) and they only let you have one taste. Don’t let that get you down! I had the caramel tahini pretzel with hot fudge and oh boy did it hit the spot. I also tried the black coconut ash (so much sweeter than you’d imagine) and the cardamom lemon jam was also amazing. I also loved the perfect scoops on their cones, perfect for sharing to social. This is my all time favorite spot in NYC. They keep all their ice cream in containers so it’s not icy. It does slow down the line, but #worthit.
2. Ice & Vice (Lower East Side): AMAZING! Tried most of their flavors (thank you so much to their patient scoopers!), settled on Milk & Honey which was so refreshing after an afternoon running around town. Their 9am is very strong and had I not been pregnant I would have indulged in that as well but alas, need to monitor that caffeine intake. My husband loved the Basic B (why was I not surprised!?). We both got their homemade cones which are fun bright colors (I had the coconut almond macaron which turned out to be pink – Surprise!). Cones did break down easily so get a cup if you get a cone to go.
3. VanLeeuwens (West Village, UWS): Never thought you’d like vegan ice cream? Think again! Both vegan and dairy options are creamy and the perfect balance of flavor and sweet. Shared a three scooper with my husband which is a great portion for two to share: salted caramel, peanut butter marshmallow crunch and the winner of the evening: honeycomb.
AMAZING. Creamy. Totally hit the spot. I’ve never had anything like their honeycomb (which has actual chunks of honeycomb in it) – not too sweet and I don’t think I can ever order anything else there, except that I will, because they have interesting vegan flavors too which taste just as good for when I feel like being dairy free (on those rare days).
In total, I tried out 22 Manhattan shops and countless others along my travels those 9 months. Here is a Google doc I created with my thoughts on all NYC shops – a few notable mentions: Ample Hills, Emack and Bolio, Milk & Cookies and 10 Below. In the next tab you can see a list of other shops on my radar. Next up: The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory because I ran out of time when the baby came a week early!
I made a Google Map view here so you can see which of my fav scoop shops is closest to you as you’re exploring Manhattan. Did I forget any places that you’re shocked aren’t on my list? TELL ME! OMG PLEASE TELL ME. This new mama still loves ice cream just as much as I did pre-baby, and I don’t want to miss a thing!
Need an ice cream rec? Hit me up on IG @victoriadevine! I’m your girl!