Munchies

The Best Bougie Ice Cream, According to MUNCHIES

In this edition of 'Hella Good,' our staff talks about the hip-bordering-on-obnoxious ice cream they just can't quit.

by Munchies Staff
Jun 15 2018, 3:30pm

Welcome to Hella Good , a place where the MUNCHIES staff offers unsolicited opinions on the best of a food, drink, or travel category picked at random—the city we think has the best food trucks, our all-time favorite karaoke bar, or the best tourist traps in the country that you should actually see. This week, we’re talking about our favorite bougie ice cream. Be it the painfully trendy aesthetics of the packaging or store, the heavy-handed use of ingredients like lavender and salted caramel, or the aggressive marketing reminding you that everything is “small-batch, locally sourced, hand-churned, blahblahblah ad nauseam”—there’s just something about these places that teeters on the edge of obnoxious. But we love them anyway.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, multiple locations
This fancy Columbus-based spot has spread nation-wide over recent years, including Chicago. It’s tough to get out of one of their shops for under $10 a person, but they do hold pint sales and bonus buys at times in shops and via their online store. Their original Loveless Biscuit and Peach Jam was what hooked me when I lived in Ohio. — Jared Batson, MUNCHIES Test Kitchen Manager

Magpies Softserve, Los Angeles, CA
This utterly delightful strip-mall spot was conceived as a "chef-y Dairy Queen," and the result is freakishly delicious, impossibly creamy soft-serve topped with things like "butterscotch Rice Krispies" (HIGHLY RECOMMEND) and vegan chocolate-covered "honeycomb." Oh yeah, there's a bunch of vegan stuff, too—after all, this is Silver Lake. It has all the decadence of treating your damn self without the post-Blizzard stomachache, and their soft-serve pies are also the definition of dankness. — Hilary Pollack, MUNCHIES Senior Editor

Em's Ice Cream, Denver, CO
Em's Ice Cream in Denver is what happens when a New England ice cream obsessive moves to Colorado and realizes there's no local, all natural, organic ice cream. The owner, Andrew, is a complete ice cream whisperer—no seriously, I've heard he talks to his ice cream. He makes everything down to the chocolate chips himself. They started as a few carts and now have their first brick-and-mortar store. The salted caramel is their best seller and when you taste it, you'll find yourself talking to your ice cream too, maybe using slightly colorful language. Also their "one free cone if you drop yours" policy endears them to parents of klutzy kids. And adults who can't hold an ice cream. No ice cream within 1000 miles holds a candle to Em's. — John Martin, MUNCHIES Publisher

Odd Fellows Ice Cream, New York, NY
Odd Fellows is the greatest ice cream store in the world. Their miso cherry flavor is more PB&J like than their actual PB&J flavor! The name of the place seems like it is trying to be too cool, but all the flavors are inventive and incredible. — Chris Grosso, VICELAND Executive Producer

Ample Hills Ice Cream, New York, NY
Once you have a kid, all of your idle killing-time-at-bars hours turn into idle killing-time-eating-ice-cream hours. Which is fine, if you happen to live near Ample Hills. I have a lot of questions about Ample Hills: How is their cotton candy flavor both a) all natural and b) blue? Why does their name sound so much like breasts? (I know, Walt Whitman, don't @ me.) Why are those kids so fucking loud and why are they all named Henry? But I also have a lot of answers, all of which come in the form of It Came From Gowanus—salted dark chocolate with some praline things, some brownie things, some crunchy pearl things—in a pretzel cone. The other day I was in there, and a staff member said, casually, "you come here often?" Pretty sure it wasn't a pickup line. I just eat hella ice cream. — Rupa Bhattacharya, MUNCHIES Editor-in-Chief

Milk Bar, multiple locations
Confession that will probably get me fired from my internship at MUNCHIES: I'm not a big ice cream guy. That being said, the Cereal Milk soft serve from Milk Bar is delicious. I'm a big fan of corn flakes, so this bridge between ice cream and the cereal world is my go-to when I'm looking for sweets. And, it's a nice reprieve from the single-scoop-vanilla-on-a-sugar-cone that I've choked down on countless first dates. — Ian Burke, MUNCHIES Editorial Intern

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA
I'm neither vegan nor lactose intolerant, but I'll take Van Leeuwen's vegan ice cream over most dairy options any day of the week. Their vegan base is made with cashews, coconuts, and cocoa butter, so it's creamy and rich and definitely not good for you. You've not known true joy until opening a pint of their Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, which is, by my estimation, 45 percent dough, or enjoying the first lick of Cookie-Crumble-Strawberry-Jam in a cone after waiting in line for 20 minutes on a muggy New York City night. — Sydney Mondry, VICE Senior Social Editor

Halo Top Creamery, available in most grocery stores, scoop shop in Los Angeles, CA
When I first heard of the "healthy" ice cream brand, I found it hard to believe it could also be good. I've always believed that ice cream can't taste as good as it does without actually being bad for your health. But I was proven wrong and can't argue with an ice cream company that puts their calories, big and in-your-face, right on the front of the carton. Bold move, Halo Top. Bold move. —Peter Courtien, MUNCHIES Production Coordinator [Editor's Note: Peter. Buddy. You ok?]

The Charmery, Baltimore, MD
The Charmery, located in Baltimore's Hampden neighborhood, has some of the best handmade ice creams I've ever had. They're super creative and seasonal, with flavors ranging from Berger cookie (a Maryland classic) to chocolate peanut butter pretzel (my personal favorite) and Old Bay caramel. Summers in Maryland can be hot and sticky, and this shop is the perfect way to cool off when you're headed out in Baltimore. — Farideh Sadeghin, MUNCHIES Culinary Director

Little Baby’s Ice Cream, Philadelphia, PA
Where do I even begin with Little Baby’s? Their flagship scoop shop in Fishtown in Philly is supposedly heavily inspired by Pee Wee’s Playhouse, but I like to describe it as walking around in a three-dimensional version of the intro to Saved By The Bell. It also happens to be directly connected, by a door between the two storefronts, to Pizza Brain, a decent brick oven pizza spot with similarly trippy interior décor. Which is probably why it’s not surprising that Little Baby’s pizza flavored ice cream actually tastes pretty damn good. (They’ve got a thing for the strange—their signature oddball flavor is Earl Grey Sriracha.) But my favorite will always be the non-dairy Speculoos. — Danielle Wayda, MUNCHIES Editorial Assistant