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 ice cream and serve-yourself froyo shops, we've got summer meltdowns covered.
Icy treats can be traced all the way back to the Persians, who would save snow in cold underground chambers until it was steamy hot outside — then pour grape juice on top and call it a day. People in the Arab world are thought to have been the first 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 now recognize as sorbet or ice cream. It wasn't until the 1500s that ice cream made its way to Europe, and later, 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 and 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.
1. Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlour & Restaurant. 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. 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. 128 S. Federal Hwy., Dania Beach; 954-923-4445; jaxsonsicecream.com.
2. Wilton Creamery. Pastry chef DJ Colby dreams in flavors — ice cream flavors, to be exact — which you can find in the display case at his two-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. 2301 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors; 954-565-1183; wiltoncreamery.com.
3. Proper Ice Cream. Proper Ice Cream chef-owner Rick Felberbaum may be a practicing lawyer, but he loves making ice cream, too. Before opening his first Delray Beach shop this June, you could find these gourmet desserts on the menu at Palm Beach haunts like 1000 North, Grato, Imoto, and Buccan, or for sale by the pint at Joseph’s Classic Market. It's some of the freshest it gets, created from scratch using local fruits or exotic spices sourced from places like Turkey and Israel. Dozens of flavors offer up gourmet creations from black sesame and sweet corn and blueberry to pistachio with caramelized fig and fresh ginger (and weekly one-off's to boot). At Proper Ice Cream, you'll truly get a proper scoop: one, two, or three of your choice placed in a rainbow variety of Konery cones — each made using herbs and spices and free of dairy, eggs, and preservatives — in flavors like red velvet, birthday cake, orange dreamsicle, or toasted coconut. Felberbaum recommends his hot ice cream sandwich: your choice of ice cream placed between two slices of warm, house-made pound cake. If all this isn't indulgent enough, throw in some homemade toppings that range from rich hot fudge and cinnamon whipped cream to an orange caramel drizzle. 1445 N. Congress Ave., Ste. 4, Delray Beach; 561-359-3420; propericecream.com.
4. Phenomenom Nitrogen Ice Cream & Bake Shop. Sometimes a bowl of ice cream just won't cut it. You need fresh-baked, gooey-centered, indulgent cookies, too. That's where Chuck Woodard's Phenomenom reigns supreme. You might be familiar with Woodard, co-founder of Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream (which also has a spot on this list). In 2014, he sold his ownership interest to launch Phenomenom in Davie, a second location in Boca Raton, and a third cookies-only Phenomenom in Miami Beach. Like other flash-freeze ice cream shops, Phenomenom specializes in using liquid nitrogen to create its own brand of ultra-creamy frozen treats with flavors like Nutella, dulce de leche, cake batter, mint, peanut butter, and strawberry. But, along with a long list of nitrogen ice cream prepared on the spot, Phenomenom also offers up super fresh-baked cookies with chocolate chip, M&M's Oreo, s'mores, half-and-half, and sugar sprinkles. If you can't choose between cream or dough, do both together in a sundae or sandwich. 2272 S. University Dr., Davie; 754-216-3478; phenomenom320.com.
5. Cherry Smash. 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 toppings for a number of Cherry Smash's 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. 8000 Wiles Rd., Coral Springs; 954-346-0999; cherry-smash.com.