Although ice cream shops abound in the DMV, it is rare to find ones whose labels include fewer artificial ingredients and more fresh, high-quality ones. We parents may not feel great about pumping treats into our kids but we can have a little more peace of mind knowing their contents are healthier. For this reason, listed below are a dozen D.C. ice cream companies that will have you (and your child) screaming for more.
Photo: Aikawa Ke via flickr
Scottish Highland Creamery
Started by an Edinburgh native, the Scottish Highland Creamery is a must visit if you’re near lovely Oxford! Their splendid ice cream is made with fresh, local ingredients, with some of their yummy flavorings being imported from Italy. Make sure to order the Italian lemon cookie and prepare to be transported to the Amalfi coast.
Ice Cream Jubilee
Victoria Lai loves ice cream (don’t we all?!!). But she loves it so much that she started experimenting with ice cream and creating fun flavors in her small NYC apartment kitchen eight years ago. She took a break from her corporate law career to pursue her newfound hobby and apprenticed at a pie shop in Brooklyn. Her hobby quickly turned into a passion but would have to remain an evening and weekend pastime as Victoria accepted a presidential appointment at the Department of Homeland Security here in D.C. Despite her dedication to her federal job, Lai couldn’t free herself from the exhilaration that formulating ice cream brought her. She started Ice Cream Jubilee as home tasting parties for friends. Ice Cream Jubilee, which uses all natural cream and milk from a local creamery, has two D.C. area locations. Victoria conceives flavors inspired by her international travels, delicious libations, and Texan upbringing.
It’s all about the fun colors at Munch! Ice cream at this Annandale, VA hot spot comes in effervescent colors like purple (ube, or yam) and inky black (ash coconut). But the main attraction is their sweet sandwiches, made with warm doughnuts. Yes, ice cream and doughnuts…together. The folks over at Munch are sugar aficionados who dream in sugar, butter, cream, sprinkles, and glitter. Enjoy!
4221 John Marr Dr. (Annandale, Va)
Maracas Ice Pops
Originally from Mexico, Julia Padierna-Peralta is inspired by tropical flavors and refreshing, healthy treats. She makes paletas, Mexican ice pops, and they became the inspiration for her company, Maracas Ice Pops. Her paletas are made, by hand, with fresh fruits, purified filtered water, and organic sugar cane. Handcrafted in the heart of Georgetown, Maracas’s paleta filled tricycles can most often be found by the fountain along the waterfront or at Georgetown University. Flavors include strawberry, kiwi, lime, pineapple, melon, coconut, mango, cucumber-lime, watermelon, corn, pear and hibiscus They also cater for parties!
Photo: Guiomar Ochoa
Founders Rob Robbins and Shane Stanger opened the first Baked Bear, in San Diego, four years ago. They have slowly expanded east, and have finally opened in North Bethesda’s booming, Pike & Rose. You mix and match freshly baked brownies, doughnuts, and cookies…YES…ALL THREE CHOICES…. for the top and bottom. You stuff this delectable “sandwich” with yummy ice cream flavors like rocky road, salted caramel, and ‘bear batter.’ But wait, it gets better! Your delicacy is “pressed” in a magical machine that warms the top and bottom but keeping the ice cream cold in the center, before they are rolled in toppings. Options include brownie bits, Fruity Pebbles, mini chocolate chips, and whipped cream, among others.
929 Rose Ave. (North Bethesda, Md)
Millie’s Spring Valley
Things have definitely livened up in the Spring Valley/AU Park area of D.C.! Millie’s is the ideal addition to this family-filled neighborhood. The restaurant pays homage to the stress-free, beachy Nantucket vibe and their menu is fresh California baja-style. Kids will LOVE going to the old-fashioned ice cream window outside. The walk up ice cream stand is filled with classic Gifford flavors and fun toppings.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
The Columbus, Ohio-based company ice cream shop finally made its way to D.C. last Fall! Jeni’s was founded 16 years ago by Jeni Britton Bauer, a James Beard Award-winning author of two cookbooks. Mouthwatering flavors include Sweet Cream Biscuits & Peach, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Pistachio & Honey and Wildberry Lavender.
1925 14th St., NW
Photo: Milk Cult
This ice cream is anything but ordinary. Owners, Ed Cornell and Patrick Griffith, bring a sense of humor to their work. What they do take seriously, however, is the quality of ingredients in their beloved treats. They use cage-free egg yolks, organic cane sugar, and rBGH-free milk and cream from the local dairy farm, Kreider Farms. Their ice cream pints and sandwiches can be found at various markets throughout the DMV. A couple of their flavors include: salted butter caramel popcorn ice cream and Nutella chocolate chip sandwich.
Locations: Falls Church, Noma, Dupont, Logan Circle, Tenleytown, Capitol Hill, Foggy Bottom, Kentlands, Takoma Park, and Rockville
A lick of Pitango Gelato will have you screaming “buonissimo.” The Italian inspired sorbets and gelato contain no artificial ingredients and only organic sugars, milk, cream, and fruit. So, basically, you’ll feel less guilty letting your kids eat it! They offer both unique and traditional flavors.
Photo: Nicecream Factory
You and your kids will feel like you’ve entered a cool chemistry lab at Nicecream! They use liquid nitrogen to freeze their ice cream right in front of your eyes and IT IS AMAZING. The process also allows for them to include fresh, local ingredients with a thicker and creamier finish. Flavors rotate weekly, and include: honey lavender, key lime pie, and mint chocolate chunk.
2831 Clarendon Blvd. (Arlington, Va)
726 King St. (Alexandria, Va)
Trickling Springs Creamery
Don’t expect to walk into a Trickling Springs brick and mortar. This creamery sells its frozen treats at Union Market Tuesdays through Saturdays. Stop by their booth for a milkshake, root beer float, or scoop of organic ice cream. Use of grass-fed cows, eco-sustainability, and minimally-processed milk has been their mission even before artisanal products were a trend. Their SoftServe ice cream contains no carrageenan, sugar syrups, added colors, or artificial flavors.
1309 5th St., NE (Union Market)
Photo: Dolci Gelati
A daily delivery from local dairy farms, pistachios from Sicily, hazelnuts from Turin, and chocolate from a small, sustainable farm in Ecuador maintains the goodness at this family-owned gelato and sorbet shop. Chef and owner Gianluigi Dellaccio uses a traditional, artisan Italian technique that provides customers with fresh, made-to-order, and often untraditionally-flavored gelato. But proceed with caution- their amazing list of gelato and sorbet flavors may leave you hankering for more. A few of their flavors include: caramel apple, honey mascarpone fig gelato, strawberry lavender sorbet, and bellini sorbet.
107 N. Fairfax St. (Alexandria, Va)
7040 Carroll Ave. (Takoma Park)
City Market at O, 1420 8th St., NW
Pleasant Pops Farmhouse Market & Cafe
Flavorful, fresh ice cream on a stick. That’s what D.C.’s Pleasant Pops is known for. On those hot summer days (or just because) families sit in this Adams Morgan café, enjoying a soft delight. Their recipes are simple; no artificial ingredients included, except for the Oreos in the cookies and cream pop. And for the java lovers, they offer “hot pops” in the fall, winter, and spring. It’s chocolate on a stick that is stirred in the coffee for an added chocolatey taste. A few Pleasant Pop flavors include: grapefruit rosemary, mango lime, and strawberry ginger lemonade.
1781 Florida Ave., NW Adams Morgan
-Guiomar Ochoa and Danielle Larkins