Why It Was the Best: Oddfellows is known for its mad scientist ice creams (chorizo caramel swirl! tobacco, smoked chili, and huckleberry! edamame!), but the Brooklyn-based shop also offers a solid lineup of slightly less adventurous flavors. My favorite in the latter category is buttermilk honey blueberry, followed closely by miso cherry. The first is a little tangy, the second is the tiniest bit savory; if they're both in the Oddfellows freezer on the day you stop by (flavors rotate daily), you should definitely get a scoop of each.
Van Leeuwen, Brooklyn, NY
Maia Schoenfelder, social media editor, @maiaschoenf
The Flavor: Van Leeuwen Vegan Salted Caramel; Dark Chocolate; Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Why It Was the Best: When I found out in 2007 that I couldn't tolerate dairy, I processed the doctor's orders as the end of the world. A true and devoted dairy enthusiast, I was crushed—an era of mac and cheese chased by ice cream, over. Fruit popsicles and sorbet would be my future. I would never experience the joy of chocolate chip cookie dough again. Dramatic? No! Ice cream is a delight! And dairy-free ice cream, historically, is not. It wasn't until stumbling into a Van Leeuwen's in 2014—seven years without ice cream!—that I found a great vegan option. This ice cream is magic. It's coconut- and cashew-based, and it is 100 percent the product of fairies and wizards. Even real dairy-eating people love it. I swear.
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Moomers, Traverse City, MI
Abbey Maxbauer, editorial intern, @abbeymaxbauer
The Flavor: Cherries Moobilee
Why It Was the Best: You may not be aware that, in addition to hosting a killer film festival, Traverse City, Michigan, produces over 70 percent of the tart cherries grown in the United States. It's also home to the best ice cream shop in America—and not just in my biased opinion, but also in a poll done by USA Today! When you combine the country's best cherries with its best ice cream, you end up with Cherries Moobilee, one of Moomers' most popular flavors and decidedly the best ice cream I've ever had.
You should know that I'm not really into fruity ice cream—why bother when flavors like chocolate and coffee exist? So if you're hesitant about the idea of cherry ice cream, I get it; but I'm also willing to bet that a healthy dose of creamy, rich Cherries Moobilee will erase all of your doubts. Besides, could it possibly be a coincidence that cherry season and ice cream season happen at the exact same time? No. It's a match made in heaven—which is also known as northern Michigan.
The Flavor: Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream in a Churro Ice Cream Sandwich
Why It Was the Best: Picture the richest, creamiest strawberry ice cream. Now envision it sandwiched between two freshly baked, sugary churros, coiled into perfect circles. The masterminds behind Churro Borough have realized that churros can be made exponentially better with a hearty scoop of soft, organic ice cream—and when you're standing outside in sunny Los Angeles, gazing up at the Hollywood sign, there's nothing better than a treat that's crispy, creamy, and delicious, all in one.
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Splendora's, Charlottesville, VA
Chanel Parks, assistant editor, @chanelinezp
The Flavor: I like to mix flavors, so I always go for Dulce de Leche and Cookies & Cream
Why It Was the Best: I'll start with a little Splendora's trivia. They make gelato (the better, creamier, more natural version of ice cream, to be honest), and they receive their dairy supply from a local farm of grass-fed cows—that's country luxury at its finest, people. The combination of smooth caramel and sweet Oreo-like cookies is my weakness, and Splendora's cool, flavor-rich treat was the thing I needed most during the flaming hot summers and falls I spent in Charlottesville as a college student.
Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream in Mystic, CT
Catherine Fuentes, managing editor, @cat_fuentes
The Flavor: Seaport Salty Swirl
Why It Was The Best: Each time I go to Mystic Drawbridge, I tell myself to branch out and try a new flavor, but more often than not, I find myself returning to the sweet-and-salty deliciousness that is their hit, Seaport Salty Swirl. Everything is really great there, but I just can't resist this ice cream, which has peanuts, peanut butter, caramel, and chocolate-covered pretzels in one delightful scoop. As an ice cream aficionado, I am quite convinced that Mystic Drawbridge's ice cream is far creamier than any other I've had, and I am anxiously awaiting my next weekend up at the Connecticut shore so I can test that theory—and indulge my sweet tooth.
Why It Was the Best: The best remedy for a blazing-hot three-day weekend in the sun, smashed between flower crowns and headbangers? Ice cream. And the only thing better than ice cream? An ice cream sandwich—which is where Coolhaus takes the cake, so to speak. Coolhaus' food truck has saved me from multiple fainting spells at ACL, where I first tasted it, so it helps that their creamy, refreshing flavors are intertwined with good memories as well.
Coolhaus, a company started in L.A. by two designers, now has 11 trucks spread across California, Texas, and New York, serving up flavors like avocado sea salt, beer and pretzels, fried chicken and waffles, and pistachio black truffle. Squash a few scoops between two snickerdoodles or salted caramel macarons, and you've got yourself the ideal summer pick-me-up.
The Meatball Shop, New York, NY
Aimée Hunt, art director, @amh_hunt
The Flavor: Mint Ice Cream Sandwich
Why It Was the Best: I'm sure people don't go to the Meatball Shop for its ice cream, but if you have ever had it, you'll understand why I do. I'm a mint chocolate chip girl, and if you are a fellow fan, you know we are usually very picky. I like mine green, with shredded chocolate chips—and while this one meets none of those criteria, it nonetheless tops my list. It's homemade, and has real mint leaves in it. And not only is it pretty, it is undeniably minty, with the cool, light, refreshing taste that you want. This variety of mint chocolate chip doesn't actually even have chocolate chips, but who needs them when—to top it all off—it comes squished between two delicious chocolate chip cookies? What more could you ask for? Though you may be drawn here by the meatballs, I strongly suggest leaving room for dessert.
Why It Was the Best: There's no better way to end a hot summer day on the right note than to stop by the local bodega to grab the ultimate summertime frozen treat essential: the Spiderman popsicle. The lemon and strawberry sugary goodness is basically the flavor of my childhood. It gives you that nice sugar boost and breathes some life back into you after a tiring, sun-filled summer day.
Girgaum Chowpatty, Bombay (Mumbai), India
Amy Karafin, copy editor, @kalyanafay
The Flavor: Mango; Pistachio (for seconds)
Why It Was the Best: Kulfi's not ice cream, exactly—it's denser and richer and is sold by weight, measured with old-timey scales. The best kulfi I had in India was at New Kulfi Centre, a tiny little take-out spot near one of Bombay's funnest beaches. Once at the counter, you choose from, oh, about 1000 flavors (saffron, cashew fig, special cream, royal banana...), and they weigh out your serving on a leaf. Then, you go around the corner to a little alley where you grab a seat on one of the available chairs and intoxicate yourself on creamy mango, while feeling the breeze blow in off the Arabian Sea.