10 Best Ice Cream Shops Around Philadelphia
Welcome to summer, that glorious time of year when it’s totally appropriate to replace meals with ice cream. Dating back to the days of Quaker colonists, Philadelphia has some serious ice cream history and a lineup of stellar scoop shops to match. But since it would be downright unfair to exclude other favorite summertime frozen treats from the list, we’ve got some gelato and water ice spots listed as well.
Here’s a look at your summer 2015 ice cream bucket list.
This West Philly husband-and-wife ice cream operation specializes in a rotating seasonal roster of flavors (pictured above) with locally sourced ingredients. Spring offerings like herb-roasted strawberry are now transitioning into more summery scoops like buckwheat sour cherry and caramel corn. Weckerly’s doesn't have a brick-and-mortar shop but their ice creams can be found at Green Line Cafe, Tela's Market, Mariposa Co-op, DiBruno Bros. Rittenhouse as well as at several farmers' markets around town.
Must-Try: The latest from the Weckerly’s folks is a lineup of creative ice cream sandwiches. Go with the Rhubarbarian ($4), buttermilk rhubarb ice cream on housemade graham crackers.
4239 Baltimore Ave.; 215-882-9958
With 150-plus years of ice cream making under its belt, this Reading Terminal staple churns up classic flavors like rum raisin and pralines and cream alongside new additions like pomegranate blueberry chunk and Guatemalan ripple.
Must-Try: A two-scoop cup or cone ($4.75) is the ideal way to enjoy one of Basset’s simple pleasures, the perfectly sweet and salty peanut butter swirl.
45 N. 12th St.; 215-925-4315
This old-timey Old City ice cream parlor (pictured above) has been dishing up some of the best (and most authentically Philadelphia-style) ice cream for more than 10 years, and it just keeps in getting better. Scoops are a great choice, but seasonal sundaes like the peach melba parfait are even better, especially when served in vintage ice cream bowls.
Must-Try: For mint chocolate chip lovers, the Franklin Mint ($11) is the holy grail topped with marshmallow, chocolate syrup, crème de menthe, whipped cream and a mint chocolate coin made at neighboring Shane Confectionary.
116 Market St.; 215-627-1899
Fans of rainbows, unicorns and soft-serve rejoiced when this New York import opened its doors in the spring. And with amazing cones like the Salty Pimp (a chocolate-dipped vanilla cone with sea salt and dulce de leche), it’s a welcome addition to the Philly ice cream scene.
Must-Try: Like a sundae-fied version of Key lime pie, the Mermaid ($6) is a perfect cup of vanilla soft-serve, lime curd, graham cracker crumbles and whipped cream.
521 S. Broad St.; 267-886-8024
This Princeton ice cream destination might be a bit of a drive, but isn’t that what summer is all about? With flavors like New Jersey cantaloupe and lavender mascarpone, it’s easy to enjoy the scenery on the way there and back.
Must-Try: Four words: fresh ricotta ice cream ($4).
35 Palmer Sq. W.; 609-924-2368
This Philadelphia-born and -bred mini-chain has won worldwide accolades, and if you’ve visited any of the shops around town you know exactly why. Italian-accented flavors like hazelnut and stracciatella share freezer space with fresh-from-the-farmer's-market options like Lancaster County strawberry and signature creations like avocado gelato (pictured above).
Must-Try: When Capo has boozy options, they’re the only way to go. After all, when’s the next time you’re going to be able to get a few fingers of single-malt scotch gelato ($4.50-$7)?
1625 Passyunk Ave.; 215-462-3790
These guys made their debut with stunt flavors like pizza (pictured above) and Earl Grey Sriracha ice creams, but they’ve retained a following with a menu that features all sorts of unlikely but always delicious scoops.
Must-Try: Not for the faint of heart, their everything bagel ice cream ($4) is a once-in-a-lifetime combo, not to mention totally breakfast appropriate.
2311 Frankford Ave.; 267-687-8567
There is something oh-so-very Italian about this new Rittenhouse cafe, trattoria, wine bar and gelato shop. The rainbow-hued gelato case is home to dozens of flavors like mojito, melon and arachide —that’s peanut in Italian.
Must-Try: If you’re in the market for a next-level gelato experience, go for one of Maestro Biasini’s gelato pairings, savory dishes topped with a scoop of gelato. The Torta Granchio ($14) is a crab cake finished with red pepper gelato.
1716 Chestnut St.; 215-568-5600
When this South Philly water ice favorite took a summer-long hiatus back in 2013, the neighborhood just wasn’t the same. Happily it’s back for another season and serving up their refreshing lineup of water ices, everything from go-tos like lemon and cherry to signature cups of amaretto and black cherry.
Must-Try: Italiano’s calls itself the birthplace of the Gelati (a parfait of water ice and ice cream, $3.50) so that’s kind of a no-brainer.
2551 S. 12th St.; 215-465-1780
Burgers might be the first order of business here but it’s worth saving room for dessert. The monthly custard calendar gives you options to try one-off offerings like caramelized peach and mud pie, or you can create or own concrete — think a Dairy Queen Blizzard but with way better blend-in options.
Must-Try: The beauty of Shake Shack is that it offers location-specific specialties, and that’s where the Philly location really shines. The Liberty Shell concrete ($4.50) blends vanilla soft-serve with Termini Brothers cannoli shells, lemon ricotta and puréed strawberries.
2000 Sansom St.; 215-809-1742