Finding the best ice cream in Brooklyn is about as simple or thankless a task as finding the best angel in heaven, or you know, the best slice of pizza. There are artisanal spots in northern Brooklyn serving booze-infused ice cream, new places serving old recipes that stretch for miles, jam-packed pints with crunchy, sweet textures– and it’s not hard to find a Baskin Robbins, Carvel or a Mr. Softee. But, we wanted to find the best homemade ice cream that’s yet to become a staple in the freezer section of the local supermarket.
So we asked around, searched the internet, and then hit the pavement in search of exceptional. We ate an ungodly amount of ice cream in the name of reporting, to bring you five spots we’d be happy to visit again and again. The five below – in no particular order – are better than good, they’re great. They’re fun. So, do what we did and treat yourself as we all celebrate the official opening of beaches and the beginning of summer this weekend. You may just discover a new favorite.
SkyIce Thai Food and Ice Cream, 63 5th Avenue, Park Slope
Why it made the cut: Excellent savory ice cream, and perfect for sampling just about everything when you order their Palette.
SkyIce Thai Food and Ice Cream is the choice for the bold at heart. The restaurant just celebrated its 8th year anniversary in the Slope, serving up both classic Thai dishes and not-so-classic ice creams. Flavors on offer range from the relatively tame, like Mango and Vanilla Bean, to the less so, like Durian and White Miso Almonds. All have one thing in common – they will surprise, delight, and intrigue you. SkyIce serves them in all quantities, but the best is the palette; 12 mini scoops each garnished with its own topping. Of the 12 tried, Thai Tea, Black Sesame Seaweed, and Raspberry Cilantro (technically one of their sorbets) stole the show.
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Sley Deli and Grocery, multiple locations including 4217 Fort Hamilton Parkway, Borough Park
Why it made the cut: The price, interior, and flavors combined to make it special.
Often the least photogenic things that are the best. Sley serves up scoops in small, mile-5-at-a-marathon-style plastic cups, two scoops for $2.00. The sweet paleteria has small, white glass fronted display counters in the front and the back of the place, and crunchy snacks, candies, and lighters fill up lots of the space on top of the counter. Families walk in to pick up cartons of Birthday Cake and Chocolate ice cream, greeting the woman behind the counter like an old friend. Their mango and coconut (a great combination, if you need a suggestion) both have chunks of fruit folded into the ice cream, leaving it with a chewy texture that is just plain refreshing and makes you feel like you’re eating fruit in addition to the scoop. This is the place to be if you want to feel like you’re discovering something for the first time, and the place to be if you want to be blown away.
Ice Cream House, multiple locations in Brooklyn, 1 Church Avenue, Kensington/Boro Park
Why it made the cut: Nostalgia is a powerful drug. So are delicious chocolate and ice crystals.
This is the place for the not-so bold at heart. Ice Cream House serves a ridiculous amount of flavors; one employee counted 48 (not including the many non-dairy) and jokingly pointed out that it’s more than Baskin Robbins, which, of course, has 31.
It’s definitely a family place- the inside includes an old-fashioned red truck, hood gleaming in the summer light. It’s packed with neighborhood kids just getting out of school (pro-tip: come at a non-school hour to avoid the lines). The ice cream here is not gourmet, not different, not boundary pushing, but it is good. It reminded us of childhood, combining the best parts of cafeteria and carton ice cream. It’s slightly frozen, giving it an icy and crunchy texture, which doesn’t bother us on a day as hot as the one we visited, and the chocolate is worth getting: fudgy and thick.
Strawberry Peacock, 728 Franklin Avenue, Crown Heights
Why it made the cut: Interesting flavor combinations, photogenic cones, and a gorgeous storefront.
Strawberry Peacock is where to go when you feel like trying something that looks amazing on your Insta feed. They have an old-fashioned loyalty system: take a punch card, decorate with your name, and clock in whenever you come to receive a free scoop after 10 punches. This mix of old and new flavors is not cheesy or over-the-top. The flavors are interesting twists on what’s popular, including the pictured matcha, turmeric, and honeycomb deal called “The Buddha Resides”. The flavor is chalky in the pleasant way that only matcha can be, and the turmeric gives it a nice kick towards the end. The honeycomb is subtle, but when you get a piece it’s well-appreciated. The color is rich and full, and everything looks great against that background of punches. Go for the cone over the cup: the extra crunch takes these to the next level. Post on, you influencer.
Dolce Brooklyn Artisanal Gelato & Ice Cream, 305 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook
Why it made the cut: Being smoother than our softest baby blanket, and successfully achieving a perfect balance in flavors.
Of course, there had to be a gelato on this list. Soft and smooth, light and airy – as only gelato can be, their Fior di Latte was perfect. The Chocolate Orange was blended into a marriage as happy as Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas’ no doubt will be, with the orange slipping in only at the end of each bite. Think those chocolate-covered oranges your parents used to get you during Christmas. This is best eaten while walking down Van Brunt Street, sunglasses over your eyes and Beach Boys in your ears, as it pairs perfectly with summer sun and a light breeze.