Where to get a creamy, frozen, swirly dessert in Philly.Less
A good cup or cone of soft serve makes you feel like you walked in with the A/C cranked up after a sweltering day. That’s exactly how we feel after eating at 1-900-ICE CREAM, making it the best soft serve in town. The Rittenhouse spot has flavors like sort-of-salty chocolate, vanilla, twist, blueberry, and several take-home pints, and each spoonful is creamy, smooth, and full of delicious dairy.
Both The Franklin Fountain and The Franklin Ice Cream Bar are full of antiques that make you feel like you’ve stepped into a 1920s ice cream parlor (or happen to be on the set of Peaky Blinders). But aside from the time warp, this place is pretty unique—all your scoops or cones come in their signature Chinese takeout boxes, and it’s some of the best ice cream in town. We prefer their soft serve, which you can have dipped in chocolate, covered with sprinkles, or doused in old-school hot fudge.
There might be other places in Reading Terminal Market that serve ice cream, but none of them matter next to Bassett’s. The stand has been in the same place since 1892, which means it predates college basketball, the rotary dial, and airplanes. All of their flavors are super rich and creamy, like butter pecan, raspberry truffle, and a kind-of-spicy cinnamon. They usually have a line, but it moves quickly, so don’t wander off just because the bakery across the way has no wait.
Anytime our bodies start to overheat (which is often during Philly summer), you can find us at Cuzzy’s Ice Cream Parlor in Queen Village. One, they have great A/C; two, their ice cream is full of creative flavors that will linger on your tongue (and in your heart) for the rest of the day. Think of a fresh-baked cinnamon apple streusel, sour cream blueberry compote, and strawberry blondie paradise.
Weckerly’s is an old-fashioned scoop shop on Girard in Fishtown. And given how delicious it is, it doesn’t get nearly as much foot traffic as it should. They specialize in small batches of seasonal flavors, like honeysuckle and cinnamon toasted oats, which means you don’t really know what you’re going to get when you walk through the door—but we’ve never had a flavor we don’t love. The best thing they do here is their ice cream sandwiches, which change just about as often as their flavors do.
This small Passyunk Square ice cream shop is probably the most popular one in the neighborhood. And the crowds aren’t wrong—it’s f*cking delicious. You can get waffle cones, pints, and ice cream sandwiches packed with flavors like cookie butter, Earl Grey with honeycomb, and Girl Scout peanut butter cookie. While many places try to do unique flavors like this, very few shops succeed in such a way that we could happily come back day after day.
Fishtown’s Float Dreamery doesn’t have a shop. You order the daily flavors from a small window, so it’s very much like waiting behind the curtain for The Wizard of Oz to grant you a wish (except instead of Auntie Em and a dry prairie you get ice cream magic). You can get one scoop for $5, two for $9, and a perfect ice cream sandwich like tahini chip and vanilla for $6. If you’re dairy-free, it’s a slam dunk place to get flavors like mint birthday chip, lychee, ube, and mango.
Gran Caffe L’Aquila is an Italian spot in Rittenhouse where pasta is the main attraction. But it’s the gelato that’s the real headline act at this all-day cafe. They have endless flavor options, and each spoonful has the perfect ratio of creaminess, richness, and mix ins. If you can’t think of which flavor to go for, just know that the salted caramel will haunt your memories for weeks and will drive you to make some excuse for stopping by.
You can get all kinds of frozen treats at this Passyunk Ave. shop, from the best sorbetto and gelati in town to cinnamon-sugar donut and strawberry cheesecake-flavored sundaes. They also have some inexplicably smooth soft serve. Top your cup of twisty vanilla or chocolate with sprinkles, chocolate syrup, chocolate toffee bits, or a crunchy graham cracker dust they call “unicorn crumble.” Check out their Instagram if you need inspo.
In this town, we may think the end all, be all of ice cream creativity is rooted in twists, dips, or sprinkles (possibly jimmies depending on where you’re from). But at Manayunk’s Crust Vegan Bakery, not only do they have soft serve flavors like Thai tea ice cream, but you can put it in coconut, dark chocolate, and French vanilla waffle cones. They also have ice cream sandwiches, and if you want to really get wild, you can still make it a twist or top it with rainbow sprinkles in the end.