We love a good excuse to (over)indulge in ice cream! So, here at The Goodhart Group, we used July 17th, also known as National Ice Cream Day, as an excuse to explore the world of ice cream in Alexandria, DC, Arlington & Fairfax County. Whether you like old school vanilla cones or more modern offerings (Lemon Lavender sorbet, anyone?), The Goodhart Group has the scoop (pun intended!) on the latest and greatest ice cream options in the area.
Ice cream traditionalists should head to Pop’s 105 King Street (next to the Fish Market), where ice cream (63 flavors!) is homemade on the premises. Pop’s has that nostalgic feel of an old-school ice cream parlor but stays modern with options like dairy-free soft serve and a Bailey’s Mint Chip flavor. It is Sara’s favorite place to go when she indulges. She keeps it simple with vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles.
At 212 King Street, Kilwin’s offers 40+ flavors of ice cream made with antibiotic-free, rbST-free milk and cream from family farms. Best known for its fudge and chocolates, be sure to try Kilwin’s hand-made fudge and caramel toppings and mix-ins, as well as fresh-made waffle cones. Tempting flavor options include Mackinac Island Fudge, New Orleans Praline Pecan, Cinnamon Crumb Cake, and Georgia Peach.
Also on King Street (#1309), Whim Pop brings your summertime treats to a whole new, global level, using healthy and fresh ingredients (think fresh fruit and no artificial ingredients). Sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free options are always available. Whim Pop’s intriguing flavors change weekly and include horchata, ginger lemonade, and strawberry hibiscus.
For Wisconsin-style frozen custard, take a trip to Del Ray to visit The Dairy Godmother (highly recommended by Allison!). What makes frozen custard different from ice cream? Well, it has at least 1.4% pasteurized egg yolk, at least 10% milk fat, and is made in a certain machine using a very specific technique. The result is an amazingly creamy and smooth summer treat. Vanilla and Chocolate custard are available daily, plus a Flavor of the Day. The Dairy Godmother also offers an incredible variety of sorbets (dairy-free!) in enticing flavors like, Lemon Lavender, Strawberry Balsamico, Orange Blossom, Pineapple with Cilantro, Cucumber with Fresh Mint, Pear with Vanilla, and many more. And of course since Alexandria loves its dogs, Dairy Godmother even has a menu item for your furry friend(s). Treat Fido to one of their frozen Pumpkin or Banana “Puppy Pops.”
IN THE DISTRICT
While founded and mostly based in New Jersey, Thomas Sweet has been a Georgetown institution since 1979. While known for their blend-in ice cream and toppings, they offer much more: ice cream cakes, paninis, and coffee. Even President Obama is a fan! The flavor options rotate weekly. This week’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake flavor may just necessitate a trip to P Street very soon!
DC based Milk Cult uses cage-free egg yolks, organic cane sugar and high quality, rBGH-free milk and cream for its ice cream. While not a storefront, you can find their products at local establishments including Whole Foods, Union Kitchen, and Little Red Fox. Try one of their unique flavors such as Bangkok Brothel (a vegan option with coconut milk, thai basil, cilantro, lemon zest, and chili) or salted Butter Caramel Popcorn. Um, YUM!
At the Nicecream Factory in Clarendon, you can enjoy handcrafted ice cream, made with fresh milk and ingredients from local farms. Nicecream freezes the ice cream (using liquid nitrogen) on the spot in front of customers, creating just about the the freshest ice cream possible. Nicecream offers a flavor of the month. July’s is Strawberry, using a crop from Toigo Farms in Pennsylvania. Also available at Nicecream are “Pints Please Boxes.” The classic five pint box (a “Go Nuts” box is also available) includes Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, Vanilla Chocolate Chunk, Pistachio, Honey Lavender and Salted Caramel flavors.
Toby’s Homemade Ice Cream & Coffee’s (in the Westover shopping center) claim to fame is “Superpremium” ice cream, meaning 16%+ butterfat. Toby’s lineup includes all of the flavors traditionalists will enjoy, plus some unique options such as Green Tea, Avocado, and Apple Pie. The menu offers a variety of sundaes, milkshakes, floats, coffee drinks, and the always decadent FROZEN HOT CHOCOLATE!
IN FAIRFAX COUNTY
Woody’s on Stonewall Avenue in downtown Fairfax offers both Hand-Dipped Ice Cream and soft serve for visitors — and their dogs (vanilla only). Enjoy covered patio seating or plentiful indoor where you can view locally-inspired paintings on display. Woody’s is the only place we’ve found with Sue’s favorite flavor (keep reading)
Historic Clifton’s Peterson’s Depot (named in honor Clifton’s rich railroad history) aims to offer its hometown and visitors family dining, and a “come as you are” mentality. The family run-Peterson’s features a welcoming patio for guests to linger. Bear in mind this gem is only open seasonally, from the end of March to mid-November each year. Menu offering such as Gary’s Guinness Float (for adults) and the Sisters’ Strawberry Shortcake Sundae sound worth a trip to Clifton!
The 60’s/Hula/Tiki/ Surf -themed Lil’ City Creamery in historic Falls Church offers a dense, 15% butterfat option from “pampered” Jersey cows. Lil’ City claims their ice cream is “Made on the Farm Ice Cream – So Fresh it was Grass Yesterday!” The menu includes the usual sundaes, as well as fruit smoothies and a variety of frozen drinks. Need a kick? Try The Affogatto, their speciality ice cream floating in a double shot of espresso.
THE NEW KID IN TOWN – GELATO!
Dolci Gelati is an artisan gelato company with three area locations, including 107 N. Fairfax Street in Old Town (plus the Shaw area of DC and Takoma Park, Maryland. Its flavor list of gelato and “sorbetti” is amazingly creative (think bacon gelato, Bellini sorbetti and their award-winning Saffron Pistachio Candied Lemon Peel gelato). Chef/owner Gianluigi Dellaccio use ingredients from local dairy farms and imported Ecuadorian chocolate to capitalize on the current trend of using interesting spices and exotic ingredients to create flavor .
We asked co-owner (and Chef Gianluigi’s wife) Anastasia Dellaccio how gelato differs from American ice cream. She explained that gelato has significantly less butterfat than ice cream’s typical 18-26% but that does not mean less taste. Because of its lower fat content, gelato is less frozen than ice cream – so it melts in the mouth faster and its full flavor immediately floods the taste buds.. Another main difference is air incorporation and resulting density. Gelato has a much lower air density (about 30-35%) vs. ice cream, resulting in a richer, creamier dessert.
Photo credits: Dolci Gelati
We also asked Anastasia what she thinks has brought about the recent rise in gelato’s popularity. She recalls the recession that hit ten years ago (which coincidentally is when Dolci Gelati and many other area gelato shops opened). At that time, gelato was seen as an “affordable luxury.” Perhaps people were not traveling to Italy or enjoying fine dining restaurants, but they could grab a little of that Italian experience and bring it home. Even since, the gelato’s popularity has been on the rise. Anastasia also thinks Washingtonians’ desire to eat fresh and local plays a big role in the success of shops like theirs. Dolci Gelati is even available at Nationals Park!
DRINKING YOUR ICE CREAM
In the mood for a milkshake? Try Burger Tap & Shake at one of its two DC locations (Foggy Bottom and Tenleytown) The choices are amazing. Everything from your basic vanilla to Blueberry Pomegranate, Tart Cherry, PB&J, and Orange Creamsicle. Feeling truly decadent? Try the BTS Shake, made with Butterfinger, Twix & Snickers.
If you’d like a more “adult” milkshake, stop by the restaurant / music venue The Hamilton in downtown DC (near Metro Center).The choices are all worthy of busting your diet — Bananas Foster (made with rum, of course), Red Velvet (vodka), (Creme de) Mint Chocolate Chip or Mango Rum.
Ted’s Bulletin, with six area locations, including Ballston, Fairfax and Reston, offers both regular (I’ll take the Caramel Macchiato!) and spiked milkshakes — something for everyone in the family!
So what’s your ice cream indulgence?
For Sue, it’s black raspberry ice cream with chocolate chips. She says it’s hard to find but a divine combination. Allison loves the is amazing sorbet and gelato at Dolcezza, especially the caramel and all of the fruity sorbet flavors.
Comment below to share your favorite flavor, concoction, or local shop!