In South Florida, we know heat — and we know how to beat it. Between air conditioning, swimming pools, a dip in the ocean, and all these damn ice cream and serve-yourself fro-yo shops, we've got summer meltdowns covered. But enough with the trendy, soft-serve yogurt. When you want the real deal, there are plenty of places to turn.
Icy treats can be traced all the way back to the Persians, who would save snow in cold underground chambers until it was hot out and then pour grape juice on it. The Arabs are thought to be the first people to incorporate cream instead of just frozen water, and the Chinese are credited with the first device that churned the frozen goods into what we would recognize as sorbet or ice cream. It wasn't until the 1500s that ice cream made its way to Europe and the rest of the Western world. But America has long put its own stamp on ice cream, including the invention of the hot fudge sundae and, more recently, alcoholic ice cream. From crazy flavors and adult-only scoops, to design-your-own ice cream cookie sandwiches, to sundaes sprinkled with everything but the kitchen sink, here's our list of Broward and Palm Beach Counties' favorite spots to get summer's most essential treat: ice cream.
10. Sprinkles Ice Cream & Sandwich Shop
279 Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach; 561-659-1140; visit sprinklespalmbeach.com.
Since 1984, this Palm Beach ice cream shop has been dishing out some of the best homemade ice cream in Palm Beach County. Originally founded by mother-daughter team Eve and Therese Williams, today the shop continues to sell more than 20 flavors of specialty ice cream, over a dozen floats and shakes, and a wide-ranging menu that includes smoothies, salads, sandwiches, and even flatbread pizza. Located smack dab in the center of Palm Beach Island's downtown hub, the shop has seen many a celebrity visitor over the years, serving the likes of Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart, Jimmy Buffet, Robert Kraft, Brooke Shields, Hoda Kotb, Glenn Beck, and, of course, Donald Trump. The publicity doesn't stop there, though. In 2002, People magazine voted Sprinkles' Triple Chocolate Supreme — a combo of rich chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips — the #1 ice cream in America. The most recent addition to the Sprinkles menu lineup is a gourmet coffee bar, where fresh-ground beans are used for made-to-order lattes and cappuccinos.
111 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 561-303-3912; visit sloansicecream.com.
Sloan's is the pretty pink ice cream parlor you only feel comfortable walking into while holding the hand of your 5-year-old, tutu-adorned niece. If you can man up enough to brave the princess-festooned parlor, however, you'll be rewarded with dozens of unique ice cream flavors, all made in-house, and a menu that spoons over a long list of sundaes, floats, smoothies, and made-to-order ice cream cookie sandwiches. Here, it's all about choice: everything from Mom's apple pie and Dad's milk chocolate, to Elvis' peanut butter and banana, to Minnie and Indy's Wonderworld — a pink buttercream ice cream swirled with Lucky Charms marshmallows, mini M&Ms, and fresh-baked Rice Krispie treats. We challenge you to find some of these flavors served anywhere else. If you can't decide which one to try, get the luxury sampler — a boat of nine scoops — and show them all who's king of the ice cream shop.
8. The Boardwalk Italian Ice and Creamery
209 N. Federal Hwy., Boynton Beach; 561-600-9593, visit theboardwalkice.com.
Head to this Boynton Beach ice cream shop for a short trip to the Jersey Shore boardwalk. The owners have styled the Boardwalk Italian Ice and Creamery so it will transport you further north via a dessert-focused menu offering everything from fried Oreos and funnel cake to candy apples and cotton candy. Of course, the main focus is the ice cream (soft serve and regular varieties) and Italian ice. Mix both of them together for a fun, frozen layered treat. The menu offers more than a dozen rotating flavors. If you need something to enjoy at home, the shop also packs to-go pints and offers ice cream pies (not cakes) as well as ice cream-stuffed cannoli.
7. La Michoacana Natural
636 Belvedere Rd., West Palm Beach or 3881 S. Congress Ave., Lake Worth; 561-514-3030.
There always seems to be a line leading to the walkup window at this small stucco building at the corner of Congress Avenue and Second Avenue North in Lake Worth that houses the Mexican ice cream shop known as La Michoacana Natural. No matter what time of year, customers flock — dozens at a time — for a taste of the funky Mexican-style desserts. The shop is the first location of three shops opened by a Mexican family, each reminiscent of the paleterias (or ice cream shops) found throughout Mexico. The house specialty: helados (Spanish for ice cream) or paletas de leche and paletas de aqua — frozen fruit bars that can be either water- or cream-based. The shop offers nearly two dozen flavors in all, including popular Mexican favorites like the bright pink besos de angeles — "angels' kisses" — a fruit-flavored ice cream with chunks of dried fruit, a regular pick among the Spanish-speaking patrons. Make sure you also try the mamey fruit (a creamy orange scoop with flecks of real fruit in the mix) and pine nut (known here as piñon, flavored with the edible nuts of the Mexican pine tree).
6. The Magic Cow
4298 S. University Dr., Davie; 954-382-1677; visit themagiccow.com.
Like a trip to Candy Land, at the Magic Cow in Davie you'll get truly mouthwatering (and made-to-order) ice cream creations. A selection of more than 20 flavors includes Rocky Road, Blue Cotton Candy, and Destination Dark Chocolate. The shop has a freezing stone slab, so flavors can be mixed up with your favorite toppings right before your eyes. These include homemade Scottish tablet, a sweet, hard, candy-like confection made from sugar, condensed milk, and butter that's flavored with vanilla or whiskey.
5. Yo Mama's Ice Cream
901 Sunrise Ln., Fort Lauderdale; 954-567-6002; visit yomamasicecream.com.
Warning: This is not your mama's ice cream shop. Instead, owners Lee and Lonnie Feldman opened this sweet shop in January 2010 following the success of their popcorn business next door — appropriately named Pops Corn — and have been scooping up some of the area's best homemade ice cream creations ever since. One step through the door and you're immediately hit with the sweet smell of sugar thanks to a double-dose of dessert goodness with fresh-popped kettle corn and ice cream hand-made daily and on premises. Try the coconut cream with a fresh-pressed waffle bowl or cone, a specialty ice cream with real bits of white chocolate chips and flakes of fresh-shaved coconut for an extra dose of flavor and texture. The popcorn doubles as a sundae topping.
4. Cherry Smash
8000 Wiles Rd., Coral Springs; 954-346-0999; visit cherry-smash.com.
Open since 2010, Cherry Smash Ice Cream Parlour began with an idea to bring back the quality (and flavors) of the early 1920s. The place is decorated with antiques and memorabilia, a colorful setting for enjoying specialty ice cream sundaes, old fashioned malts, ice cream sodas, banana splits, and more. Beautiful candy jars from the turn of the century are filled with a number of popular old-timey confections, the perfect topping for a number of crazy in-house creations. Try an Orange Crush float in place of the standard root beer drink, or go for the mega cone where three giant scoops are balanced atop a single large waffle cone.
3. Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream
2422 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 754-200-6456; visit chillnicecream.com.
Traditional ice cream manufacturers aim to freeze the ice cream as fast as possible, and therein lies the problem: ice crystals and dreaded freezer burn. What to do? Make it order, of course. At Chill-N, ice cream is made on the spot using a flash-freeze liquid nitrogen method. While you can't sample the ice cream flavor you want, the payoff is worth it: quite possibly the creamiest, richest ice cream ever (it's made with zero overrun for 100 percent density). The menu looks like a periodic table with letters for every flavor, from biscotti and Krispy Kreme to Pop Tarts and Butterfinger. One of their most popular flavors, Nutella, requires tubs and tubs of Nutella (over 60 pounds per week), but we're not complaining.
2. Wilton Creamery
2301 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors; 954-565-1183; visit wiltoncreamery.com.
Pastry chef DJ Colby dreams in flavors — ice cream flavors, to be exact — which you can find in the display case at his 2-year-old Wilton Manors ice cream shop. That creativity guarantees Wilton Creamery offers a rainbow of flavors you won't find at your average scoop spot. Instead, Colby prepares anywhere from 20 to 30 handcrafted confections from his own carefully calibrated recipes with a unique selection of upscale, specialty ice cream, sorbet, and pelatos (Colby's version of adult popsicles). The most popular flavor, He's Not Worth It, is a favorite not because of its catchy title but for its ability to replicate the exact taste of a Snickers bar without using any Snickers whatsoever. The combination of vanilla ice cream, English toffee, Oreo, Heath bar, chopped soft caramel, and housemade sea-salt-infused caramel swirl reveals itself in layers, one flavor at a time, resulting in an almost identical flavor profile (in cream form, of course).
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1. Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlour & Restaurant
128 S. Federal Hwy., Dania Beach; 954-923-4445; visit jaxsonsicecream.com.
This landmark ice cream parlor, opened by Monroe Udell in 1956, still makes each of its more than 60 flavors of ice cream by hand, each batch mixed one by one. Today, the old-fashioned ice cream parlor not only boasts one of the largest — and best — ice cream selections in the area but also one of the nation's largest collections of American memorabilia. Expect supersize scoops, waffles and ice cream, frosted floats, giant shakes, parfaits, and banana splits. Of course, Jaxson's is perhaps most famous for its "kitchen sink" sundae, but it's also a restaurant with a menu offering "country kitchen" fare from wings to clam rolls.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.