We LOVE ice cream, so documenting Philly’s amazing ice cream scene is a labor of love. These are some of the best/unusual/unique places we’ve found in Philly:
Best Ice Cream Sandwiches: So much thought goes into the pairing of the sandwich flavors and the ice cream flavors at Philly-based Weckerly’s, which always perfectly complement each other. Locally sourced and organic. Cranberry-Ginger/Vanilla on Gingerbread, Rosemary/Mint on Dark Chocolate, Chocolate/Vanilla on Chocolate Chip, and Sweet Cream with Peach butter on Crunchy Cobbler Cookies. Follow them on social media to find out when they have their (extremely) limited honeysuckle flavor, which just might be the best ice cream EVER! https://www.weckerlys.com/
Best Mix-ins and Soft Serve: Quality ice cream and fun, generous mix-ins, 1-900 used to be one of the hardest pints to score (schedule a once in a blue moon time, then press the buzzer marked “ice cream”…), but the now have shops in Rittenhouse, Fishtown and Ardmore – and do mail order. Follow on Instagram for details. In addition to hard ice cream, they have started a soft serve program with a quality base and rotating flavors. They rarely make one of their premier flavors twice. I’m not a big chocolate ice-cream girl, but their’s is amazing -super fudgy! Tobey’s favorite.
Best Flavors: Milk Jawn has my 2 favorite flavors of all time: Earle Grey Honeycomb and Malted Milk Toffee Crunch (fun flavor combos). Besides their regulars, they also create specials, such as this one-day-only “Egg-cellent Easter Jawn,” with crushed Cadbury eggs. After selling at stores around town for a couple years, they finally have their own scoop shop selling scoops and pints. 1439 East Passayunk.
Best Mango: The best place for mango everything, including mango ice cream – especially tasty with black rice and snow-white cream. https://www.yelp.com/biz/mango-mango-dessert-philadelphia-2
Gelato: We lost our beloved Cappogiro last year, but this Italian Cafe/Restaurant fills the void with their super delicious and creamy gelato. They also serve Tobey’s favorite dessert (affogato – your choice of gelato and a shot of espresso). If you are very adventurous, you can try one of their savory gelatos, such as spagetti carbonara topped with Italian bacon gelato. This is the home of our favorite cappuccino in the city. https://grancaffelaquila.com/. Great gelato can also be found at Fiore Fine Foods restaurant in Queen’s Village. 757 S Front Street
Old-school Soda Fountain/Milkshakes & Customizable Ice-cream Bars: Our favorite milkshakes in the city. It’s almost impossible to choose between the ginger (my favorite flavor and difficult to find) and the honey – made with bits of honey candy from Philly bees (from their sister shop Shane’s Confectionary). You can also get old-school ice-cream sodas, sundaes, and regular soda made fresh with one of their huge variety of house-made syrups (the root beer float is especially yummy!). They also sell their ice cream at their recently opened a shop next door, selling customizable ice-cream bars (keystone shaped – Pennsylvania is known as the “keystone state” because of it’s central location and importance in the 13 colonies)- you choose dark or milk chocolate dip and 3 add-ons including cookies, nuts, dried fruit, caramel drizzle… http://www.franklinfountain.com/
Traditional: Opened in 1892, Bassetts is the last remaining original merchant in Reading Terminal Market (although company is actually older; they began business across the river in New Jersey in 1861). Lots of flavors to choose from (I love how they organize the menu by “vanilla based, “chocolate based,” etc.). A great ending to a Reading Terminal culinary adventure.
Neighborhood Stands: Somerset Splits in Port Richmond for fun (and odd) flavor combinations of sundaes and milkshakes. Note: this one does not make their own ice cream (but they do use local Bassets), but it’s a great neighborhood spot. Check Instagram for updated menu. On Germantown Ave., Zsa’s makes their own (both the ice cream and mix-ins), with fun (rotating) flavors (lemon buttermilk, funfetti cake, cookie jar, buttered brown sugar peach), floats, ice cream sandwiches, ice-cream cakes, and Insta-worthy cones. Cold weather hot chocolate floats!
Popsicles: There’s nothing like a popsicle on a summer day. They always have a large selection of fun flavors (both dairy and non-dairy), including this blueberry lemon-aid and Mexican hot chocolate. http://www.lilpopshop.com/
Mexican: This shop in the Italian market is the perfect stop after a meal in one of the nearby Mexican restaurants. They have a huge selection of ice cream flavors, including all the tradition ones, plus avocado and corn. This is also the place to try a chamoyada (Philly Desserts – Chamoyada (Paletas Y Helados Bambino))
Right across the street is La Guerrerense. In addition to serving chamoyadas and ice cream, they also serve house-made paletas (Mexican popsicles). With chunks of fruit and interesting flavors (regular flavors, also), this is the best $2 deal in the Italian Market (pictured: rice and mango/spicy chili flavors). https://www.facebook.com/La-Guerrerense-Philly-1550906861618247/
Vegan: Should it count on this list if there’s no dairy? Not sure, but you’d never know by tasting one of these tehina shakes. The tehina gives them a slightly nutty taste, and they are super creamy. This is Mint-chocolate chip, Tobey’s favorite. http://www.goldiefalafel.com/
I guess if we include popsicles and tahini shakes, we should also include water ice (a.k.a. Italian ice). The best is at John’s near the Italian market: Philly Desserts: Classic Water Ice a.k.a. Italian Ice (John’s)
I think you’re right to be suspicious of people who don’t like ice cream; I know I am! All those places look great, but I’m most eager to try Weckerly’s and Franklin Fountain. I like popsicles, but I’m only likely to choose one if there’s no ice cream available!
Agreed. Popcicles definitely fulfill a different craving from ice cream (maybe they are a different food group?). However, I’ve definitely gotten more picky about ice cream these days and really only like the good stuff. However, I have been known to happily eat cheap popcicles from the ice cream truck.
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Oh, I love cheap popsicles, especially if I’m sick. Sometimes I get a craving for cherry twin pops, though I haven’t actually had one in probably 20 years. Britain’s popsicle game is not strong.
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