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15 Unique U.S. Ice Cream Shops

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    1. Humphry Slocombe
    1. Humphry Slocombe
    San Francisco, California

    A pint of the stuff might cost you an arm and a leg (or like, $10), but the occasional scoop of Humphry Slocombe is easily worth the indulgence. At this Bay Area ice cream shop, flavors range from dressed-up classics like Tahitian V*n!ll@ and Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee, to innovative newcomers, like Peanut Butter Curry and Hibiscus Beet Sorbet.
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    2. Fifty Licks
    2. Fifty Licks
    Portland, Oregon

    Portland is no stranger to serving up unique treats, so why would the city’s ice cream be any different? At Fifty Licks, ultra-rich custards are scooped up in flavors like Thai Rice (jasmine-rice-infused cream with a hint of pandan) and Cornbread with Honey Butter. There are funky options for vegans too, our favorite being the fresh pineapple flavor infused with thai basil.
    Courtesy of @fiftylicks
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    3. Peddler’s Creamery
    3. Peddler’s Creamery

    Los Angeles, California

    Although it’s not a mandate, some customers at Peddler’s Creamery have to work for their ice cream. Rather than leave the churning up to a machine, every gallon that is served at this downtown L.A. shop is churned by a stationary bike. Peddler’s offers a free scoop in exchange for a 15-20 minute pedal, but those who aren’t looking to invest any sweat equity are free to use actual money. The flavors at Peddler’s lean slightly more toward the traditional, but Candied Kumquat, Black Sesame Caramel, and Raspberry Pop Tart are the unusual favorites.


    Courtesy of Peddler’s Creamery
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    4. Browndog Creamery and Dessert Bar
    4. Browndog Creamery and Dessert Bar
    Detroit, Michigan

    Bar plus ice cream parlor equals barlor, right? It does near Detroit at Browndog Creamery, where scoops of small-batch ice cream are mixed with booze, served flight-style, or dunked into pints of beer. There are kid-friendly treats too, of course, but for the over-21 set, favorite combos are the Jacked-Up Carrot Cake (infused with Jack Daniels, bits of cake, and a cream cheese swirl) and customizable floats made with Michigan draft beers.
    Photo by @katmwalker
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    5. Black Dog Gelato
    5. Black Dog Gelato
    Chicago, Illinois

    Sure, gelato isn’t technically ice cream, but the inventive offerings at Black Dog Gelato easily warrant it a spot on this list. Chef and owner Jessie Oloroso mixes up batches of the creamy Italian treat the traditional way—but flavors like Blueberry French Toast and Sesame Fig Chocolate Chip make this gelateria anything but old school.
    Courtesy of Black Dog Gelato
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    6. Cloud City Ice Cream
    6. Cloud City Ice Cream
    Portland, Oregon

    Cloud City is a true standout in the city’s artisanal ice cream scene. Its vibe is unpretentious, its treats are locally sourced, and each of its 30 daily flavors has a twist. Seasonal favorites include the Unicorn (mascarpone ice cream swirled with red velvet cake chunks and strawberry jam) and the Roasted Balsamic Cherry Mascarpone, but tasty scoops like Chocolate Stout and Earl Grey Blueberry are available year round.
    Courtesy of Cloud City Ice Cream
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    7. Spun Ice Cream
    7. Spun Ice Cream

    Austin, Texas

    Making a single scoop of ice cream to order might sound like some kind of magic trick, but at Spun Ice Cream in Austin, it’s business as usual. That’s because co-owners Ashley and Christina Cheng use liquid nitrogen to freeze their organic ice cream batters so customers get a made-to-order treat free of emulsifiers, preservatives, or stabilizers. The real magic, however, lies in Spun’s rotating menu of flavors and toppings. Customers can mix and match or choose from specially crafted sundaes. The Toastess with the Mostess, for example, includes toast ice cream, Valencia orange marmalade, brown butter powder, and a tiny brûléed toast.

    Photo by Veronica Meewes
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    8. Heifer and the Hen
    8. Heifer and the Hen

    Boulder, Colorado

    Heifer and the Hen is named after ice cream’s two most important ingredients: milk and eggs. And at this Boulder spot, the head chef makes sure both are organic, local, and fresh as can be. So while we wouldn’t say a scoop of Heifer and Hen’s Burnt Marshmallow S’mores ice cream is healthy, per se, indulging can at least be done with a clear conscience. On Tuesdays, when cones are just $2 apiece, all of that conscience clearing can be done with an almost-full wallet on the way out the door. 

    Courtesy of Heifer and the Hen
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    9. Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
    9. Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
    New York City

    There are a lot of old-school-esque ice cream parlors in New York City that serve up tubs of old-school-esque flavors. Although this shop’s charming graphics and simple design might indicate otherwise, Morgenstern’s Finest is not one of them. Opened in 2014, this wildly popular parlor makes small-batch variations of classic flavors. Vanilla, for example, is offered as Madagascar, Burnt Honey, Bourbon, French, or Rum Raisin, while strawberry can be Balsamic, Smooth and Delicious, or Pistachio Pesto. The creativity also extends to Morgenstern’s menu of untraditional flavors, like Raw Milk, Durian, or the Insta-famous Black Coconut Ash.
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    10. Little Baby’s Ice Cream
    10. Little Baby’s Ice Cream

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Little Baby’s made its way into the spotlight because of this supremely creepy commercial in 2012, and it hasn’t left the stage since. In the six years since the shop's founders started towing freezers full of homemade ice cream around Philly on tricycles, Little Baby’s has opened up two storefronts and gained nationwide recognition for its quirky vibe and even quirkier flavors. On the milder side of the spectrum are choices like Cardamom Caramel and Thai Iced Tea. On the not-so-mild side? Cucumber Dill, which uses fresh cucumber juice and chopped dill pickles, or Ranch, which is exactly as it sounds.


    Courtesy of Little Baby's Ice Cream
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    11. Coletta Gelato
    11. Coletta Gelato
    San Francisco, California

    OK, Coletta Gelato didn’t make this list because its flavors are unique (although they are interesting, with offerings such as an Italian take on chai). What’s different about this San Francisco shop is that its founders, Henri and Antonio, went to Gelato University in Italy. Safe to say—they know their stuff. They pasteurize and make their own gelato base to get the perfect flavor and texture, so you’ll never be stuck with a run-of-the-mill scoop.
    Courtesy of Coletta Gelato
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    12. Ample Hills Creamery
    12. Ample Hills Creamery
    New York City

    When Brian Smith first opened the doors to Ample Hills Creamery in 2011, he expected it to fail. But six years, three new locations (including one in Disneyland), and an Amazon distribution deal later, the Brooklyn-based creamery has positioned itself as one of New York’s most popular spots for a scoop. Ample Hills attracts the masses by making ice cream the old-fashioned way with an “everything homemade” mantra, and its flavors have a Brooklyn-style eccentricity that’s both craveable and creative.
    Photo by Mirella Cheesman
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    13. Simple Ice Cream Sandwiches
    13. Simple Ice Cream Sandwiches
    Reno, Nevada

    If the Instagram food trends of the past few years have been any indication, donuts are no longer just for breakfast. Simple Ice Cream Sandwiches is decorated with funky wall art and colorful signage, but the formula for this shop's ice cream sandwiches is, well, simple: Donuts or “cronuts” from local Reno bakeries plus ice cream from Carson Valley’s Hoch Creamery equals one delicious, sugary treat.
    Courtesy of Simple Ice Cream Sandwiches
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    14. Lick’s Honest Ice Cream
    14. Lick’s Honest Ice Cream
    San Antonio, Texas

    Since opening the doors of Lick’s Honest Ice Cream in 2011, co-founders Anthony and Chad have remained dedicated to creating a hyper-local ice cream shop of a small town with the inventive and offerings of a big city. With all of the Lick’s locations in Texas, the Lone Star state’s produce almost exclusively dictates what’s on the seasonal menu. The dairy is, of course, sourced year round from Mill-King Market & Creamery outside of Waco, but funky flavors like Banana Nut Fudge and Tequila Lime Coconut also use produce (like bananas and peanuts) and other goods (like Dulce Vida tequila) that are created within Texas’ border.
    Photo by Annie Ray
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    15. Garden Creamery
    15. Garden Creamery
    San Francisco, California

    There are clearly more than a few great ice cream parlors in San Francisco, but Garden Creamery sets itself apart with its salmon pink facade and rotating selection of Asian-inspired flavors. Hawai’i native Erin Lang and her partner Donny started hawking frozen treats from a similarly colored food truck several years ago, but only opened their first brick and mortar in 2017. Patrons not only line up for scoops of Mango Sticky Rice and Butter Mochi Toasted Sesame, but also for Lang’s decadently flavored semifreddo ice cream sandwiches. Despite its name, Garden Creamery does more than cater to dairy-lovers. The store also offers a plentiful selection of plant-based options like Thai Iced Tea and Kona Coffee, all made with coconut milk and agave nectar.
    Courtesy of Garden Creamery
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