NYC: My Guide to Ice Cream, Gelato & Soft Serve

Taiyaki Ice Cream NYC
Taiyaki NYC

When it comes to ice cream, soft serve, and gelato, New York City is at the very forefront. We’re talking fish-shaped ice cream cones, mochi toppings, and mind-blowing flavor combinations, but also old-school, time-tested ice cream crafted with high-quality ingredients at traditional ice cream parlors that have been around for decades.

In this post I’ll be sharing some of my favorite ice cream, gelato, and soft serve places in New York City. It is not an exhaustive guide, but just some of my personal ice cream favorites, of course all tried and tested.

Taiyaki NYC

Taiyaki is a fish-shaped, Japanese pastry made from a sweet, pancake-like batter that is poured into fish-shaped molds and cooked until golden brown. It is traditionally filled with red bean paste, but nowadays it comes with all sorts of fillings, and at Taiyaiki NYC, the pastry fish is filled with soft serve.

What to order at Taiyaki NYC? There are a range of different soft serve flavors at Taiyaki, and they’re all nice, so pick whatever you like, but make sure you get the soft serve in a taiyaki cone:)

Taiyaki NYC, 119 Baxter St, New York, NY 10013

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory used to be at 1 Water Street, on the Fulton Ferry Landing Pier, but then they moved to a temporary location in Greenpoint and another ice cream shop opened, where they used to be. Now Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is back, just across the street from their original location providing you with another great reason to walk across Brooklyn Bridge. I like the authentic, old-school feel of the place, and the ice cream is delicious.

The ice cream is made from high quality, all natural ingredients, and the selection of flavors is rather limited. I don’t recall that any new flavors has added for as long as I’ve known about the place, but why change a winning concept?

My favorite? Peaches & Cream.

Read my blog post about Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory >>

Brooklyn Ice Cream Facotry, 14 Old Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream

When Ana and I were Lower East Side roommates, we used to go to the original Morgenstern’s branch on Rivington (now Morgenstern’s Bananas, dairy-free soft-serve), but it’s been quite a while ago, and Morgenstern’s managed to slip under my ice cream radar in the meantime. Though lately, I tried the branch on Houston, and I immediately fell back in love with Morgenstern’s. For ice cream enthusiasts seeking an elevated experience, Morgenstern’s Ice Cream is a must-visit. In addition to all the classic flavors, the menu also included a great selection of wild and crazy stuff. How about Pickles & Mayo? Or Salted Egg Yolk Chili Crisp? If in doubt, the classic Peaches & Cream is always a safe bet.

Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, 88 W Houston St, New York

Il Laboratorio del Gelato

The sleek, lab-like interior makes you immediately aware that this isn’t your average ice cream shop. While the shop may appear slightly cold upon entry, the warm and friendly staff will soon melt the hearts of any gelato aficionado. What sets Il Laboratorio del Gelato apart is the extensive range of flavors, covering everything from classic favorites like chocolate and pistachio to innovative creations like olive oil and lavender. Boasting around 200 unique options, there is something to suit every taste bud, making Il Laboratorio del Gelato a must-visit for true gelato nerds.

Il Laboratorio del Gelato, 188 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002

The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is located in the heart of Chinatown, and the family-run shop with the dragon logo seems to be more popular than ever. I can’t remember one single time, when I’ve been able to just walk right in and place my order, because there’s always a line outside.

The owners continuously come up with new, tempting flavors, but I always order the lychee ice cream, and it’s so good, I’ve never even considered ordering anything else.

The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, 65 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

Soft Swerve

I first found out about Soft Swerve a couple of years ago, when the purple soft serve with colorful cereal sprinkles was everywhere on Instagram. At first I wrote it off as a fad, but after visiting the place over and over again, I can say that Soft Swerve is more than just a pretty square in your Insta feed, at least if you like soft serve as much as I do.

The Ube Purple Yam flavor is probably the most well-known, and what you should order, if you are there for the first time, but there are also other flavors, such as matcha and Black Sesame. I saw on their website that the Kips Bay shop also has Vietnamese Coffee soft serve, which I’m really curious about.

After deciding on a flavor, it’s time to pick your toppings. The cereal toppings are great with soft serve, and so is the mochi. There are two other Soft Swerve branches in addition to this one on Allen st:

Soft Swerve, 85B Allen St, New York, NY 10002

Milk Bar

If soft serve is your thing, you’ve probably already visited Milk Bar—or it should be at the top of your list. Their Cereal Milk Soft Serve captures the taste of the sweet, sugary milk at the bottom of a cereal bowl. It’s such a simple concept, but incredibly delicious. I often wonder why no one thought of it sooner. There are several Milk Bars branches in the city, but I have a slight preference for the flagship store. The service there is exceptional, with staff members eager to share their personal favorites and recommendations.

Read my blog post about Milk Bar >>

Milk Bar Flagship store, 1196 Broadway, New York, NY 10001

A La Mode

I stumbled upon this little ice cream shop by coincidence, and while it might be a little far-fetched to call this place a hidden gem (I mean, how hidden can you possibly be in this part of Manhattan), I’m surprised this place didn’t have a long line outside, because 1) this place is super cute, and 2) the ice cream is amazing.

The ice cream at A La Mode is nut free, egg free and sesame seed free, and they also have a good selection of dairy free flavors.

What to order? The Key Lime Pie and the Rose both blew my mind, and yes, you want marshmallows on top.

A La Mode, 360 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022

Van Leeuwen

Van Leeuwen started as a single yellow ice cream truck and has since grown into a beloved ice cream empire with multiple locations across the United States. Most of their flavors are to the richer, lots-of-stuff-in-them, side, so don’t go there right before going out for dinner. I did that once, and I was so full from the ice cream I could only eat a starter for dinner.

I tried the Peanut Butter Brownie Honey Comb last summer on the staff’s recommendation, and it was fantastic. If in doubt, order that one.

Van Leeuwen, 172 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002

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