For the ice cream aficionado, there's an embarrassment of riches in Philly's dessert scene right now. Not only do we have some of the best artisan makers (paging Capogiro, Little Baby's, Weckerly's, and Zsa's) and neighborhood mainstays (Custard & Cakes Creamery, Scoop de Ville, oWowCow Creamery, More Than Just Ice Cream) — we also have pastry chefs who are churning out pure frozen deliciousness in restaurants. (Plus, we're the birthplace of the Choco Taco, arguably the best ice cream novelty ever made, invented by Alan Drazen of Jack & Jill Ice Cream.) In the spirit of getting it all in before the end of summer, here's a rundown of the absolute must-slurp ice cream confections around town.
Drinkable Ice Cream
Amaro Float at a.kitchen
Finally, a float for cocktail geeks. a.kitchen's dessert marries homemade almond ice cream with a splash of soda water and herby Averna Amaro, served in a rocks glass and topped with Luxardo cherries because this is, after all, still dessert.
135 S. 18th St., 215-825-7030, www.akitchenandbar.com
Honey Graham milk shake at Frankford Hall
Stephen Starr's German biergarten will serve the milk shakes with or without booze, but the boost of bärenjäger puts this concoction of honey, graham cracker, and vanilla ice cream over the edge into sweet oblivion.
1210 Frankford Ave., 215-634-3338, www.frankfordhall.com
Tehini milk shake at Goldie
These vegan beauties — available in plain, chocolate, Turkish coffee, and coconut flavors — rely on sesame paste for their creaminess quotient and, after a taste, it's clear why they're a mainstay of Cook N Solo's falafel joint.
1526 Sansom St., 267-239-0777, www.goldiefalafel.com
Pie milk shake at Magpie Artisan Pies
Pies make at foundation for excellent milk shakes, and any of the seasonal selections here (blueberry crumb, butterscotch bourbon, key lime strawberry) can be churned up with Bassett's vanilla ice cream and served in a mason jar with a straw and a spoon.
1622 South St., 267-519-2904, www.iluvmagpie.com
Novelties and Handhelds
Nutty Buddy at Wister
Wister takes all the flavors of a classic peanuty cone and turns them into a spoon-and-bowl affair, with chocolate peanut ganache-filled mini-cones, chocolate ice cream from Franklin Fountain, hot fudge, salted caramel, and whipped cream gilding the lily.
26 N. 3rd St., 267-239-5900, www.wisterbyob.com
Profiterole trio at Slate Bleu
An array of daily house-churned ice creams are one of the highlights of this bistro, where chef Mark Matyas serves them in classic French style as a mixed-flavor trio sandwiched inside profiteroles. Caramel and espresso flavors are popular, but don't miss the Armagnac-prune-rum raisin for the continental set.
100 S. Main St. Doylestown, 215-348-0222
Dulce de leche ice cream sandwich at Red Owl Tavern
"Ice cream sandwich" belies the size and texture of this treat, which is really meant to be shared: Franklin Fountain caramelized banana ice cream is packed in between two fudgy-textured blondies with a dulce de leche ganache, all of which is plated with a swirl of salted caramel and a sprinkle of caramel popcorn.
433 Chestnut St., 215-923-2267, www.redowltavern.com
American Globs cone at Big Gay Ice Cream
Though the name also serves as something of a warning, this cone — topped with pretzel-studded ice cream and draped in chocolate — has achieved iconic status.
521 S. Broad St., 267-886-8024, www.biggayicecream.com
Tall Charlie at Sweet Charlie's
Because it's really not enough to have Thai rolled ice cream with toppings like Nutella and banana artfully massaged into it, the trademarked Tall Charlie sets said ice cream inside a glazed doughnut.
711 Walnut St., 267-657-3168, www.sweetcharlies.com
S'mores sundae at Bud & Marilyn's
S'mores flavors are big in the dessert world now, but this sundae, with toasted marshmallow ice cream, smoked bourbon hot fudge, and graham cracker crumble, almost makes the original campfire treat seem obsolete.
1234 Locust St., 215-546-2220, www.budandmarilyns.com
Black and Tan sundae at Friday Saturday Sunday
Brownie meets brown-butter blondie meets vanilla ice cream meets whipped caramel meets dark chocolate meets crispy rice nougatine in a texture and flavor freak-out that's richly satisfying but just surprising enough to keep it interesting.
261 S. 21st St., 215-546-4232, www.fridaysaturdaysunday.com
Signature sundae at Autograph Brasserie
The mason jar overfloweth at Wayne's Autograph with the house signature sundae, which basically contains every delicious thing ever, jumbled up for maximum sugar rush: milk chocolate pretzel bark, candied peanuts, brownie, blondie, peanut butter cookie, and dulce de leche ice cream.
503 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, 610-694-2588, www.autographbrasserie.com
Flavors to Remember
Soft serve at V Street
The nondairy ice cream concoctions at V Street probably deserve their own storefront, but for now, dessert merits a special stop for one of the daily flavors that might include vanilla marshmallow or halvah and associated toppings.
126 S. 19th St., 214-278-7943, www.vstreetfood.com
Housemade flavors at Kanella South
The ice cream game at Kanella has always been on point, and changing selections like orange cardamom, Greek coffee, and honey laurel capture the rich flavor palate of this Greek-Cypriot kitchen.
757 S. Front St., 215-644-8949
Honeycomb ice cream at Franklin Fountain
It's hard to boil down the multitude of binge-worthy treats at Franklin to just one, but the house specialty of local honey ice cream flecked with honeycomb candy comes and goes with the season, so that makes it a bucket list shoo-in.
116 Market St., 215-627-1899, www.franklinfountain.com
Ice cream flight at Tubby Robot Ice Cream Factory
Why pick one flavor or hover around begging for samples with those teeny tiny shovel-spoons when Manayunk's Tubby Robot serves up a flight of your choosing that could incorporate its ridiculously smooth lavender honey, chocolate-covered strawberry, and/or a stellar rendition of cookies and cream?
4369 Main St., 267-423-4376, www.tubbyrobot.com