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Best Ice Cream Shops in the US?

Not gelato. Not frozen custard. Not in your grocer's freezer. And not in a fancy restaurant.

My question is, where do they make the best ice cream, with interesting flavors, made in small batches from fresh ingredients, that are just totally delicious?

The place that comes to mind for me is Toscanini's in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I still dream of their caramel ice cream. It's almost bitter with that burnt sugar edge. They do well with all the warm spices--cinnamon, clove, cardamom--and I seem to remember some good chocolate variations too.

Educate me! Where else is this happening?

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  1. I grew up on Polly Ann's ice cream on Noriega Street in San Francisco. My best friend and I would get the bubble gum flavor as little girls. It was pink ice cream with gum balls in it. Polly Ann's always had traditional flavors and flavors like durion (sp? that spikey fruit that smells and tastes like blue cheese) Their retail shop is closed but they still do wholesale in the city.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MIss G

      A 2nd to Polly Ann's. I believe they re-opened again after a remodeling this past year w/ the son taking over...or did they close again?

      There's and Mitchell's in the S.F., many tropical flavors and unique flavors made on the premises.

      1. re: ML8000

        Agree about Mitchell's (688 San Jose Ave., at 29th, (415) 648-2300). Absolutely superb.

        1. re: David Kahn

          Count me in on the Mitchell's bandwagon. I finally started to appreciate ube, much to my family's surprise!

          I also miss Polly Ann's time to see if it's still near grandma's.

    2. A Danish ice cream shop in Duxbury Mass called Far Fars, it is so good it should be illegal

      1. Herrell's, in Northampton and Cambridge, MA. Richardson's Dairy, near Andover, MA.

        7 Replies
        1. re: CynD

          Absolutely Herrell's, no question.

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            Another vote for both Herrell's (malted vanilla!) and for Richardson's. Crescent Ridge Dairy in Sharon is excellent, too.

          2. re: CynD

            How does it compare with Bart's?

            1. re: PseudoNerd

              I'm not familiar with Bart's, so I can't say. Anyone?

              1. re: CynD

                Bart's French Toast was one of my favorite memories from college. Herrell's chocolate pudding is better but I have to give a thumbs up to IceJack in Norwood center for their Peanut Butter Oreo and the creamiest Strawberry Cheesecake (with whole berries!) ever. Plus you can't beat the price for homemade ice cream.

                www.icejackinc.com

            2. re: CynD

              I lived blocks from the Herrell's in Allston in the 80s and lived on that Chocolate Pudding flavor. Glad the old innovator is still going strong.

              1. re: CynD

                Another vote for Herrell's, as my runner-up. I used to go to the one in Allston. This time of year they start making their wonderful pumpkin ice cream. Great hot fudge too. But I have to agree with heidipie about Toscanini's - it's the greatest. I liked similar flavors as well - the cinnamon the chocolate white chocolate chip.

                And while I'm in a Boston/Cambridge frame of mind, let me say a word about the long departed, much missed Bailey's. Gourmet flavors are cool, but there's nothing better than old-fashioned ice cream parlor ice cream.

              2. Snoqualmie Gourmet in Maltby, WA. From Honey Lavendar to Jack Daniels rounded off with Mukilteo Mudd. mmm-mmm goodness. I'm so lucky to be close to a store that sells pints of the stuff.

                www.snoqicecream.com

                1. hello, since you expressed interest in coffee ice cream on your Icis post, if you should be travelling on 101 betw. S.L.O. and Santa Barbara, try Doc Burnstein's Ice Cream Laboratory in Arroyo Grande. In the super-premium (>14% butterfat) niche, their version is one of the few I've tried that captures the intense bitter-sweet note of fresh roasted/brewed strong black kopi. Also in the realm of super premium, if you like tropical fruit flavors or macadamia/chocolate/coconut combos, Lafferts in Maui is hard to beat. enjoy

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: moto

                    Ooh, Lappert's. Yum. I think there's a branch in Monterey, CA, and one in Manhattan Beach as well.

                    1. re: CynD

                      thanks for correcting the name,and the info on the shops in CA. at least my description successfully evoked what I referred to. salud

                      1. re: moto

                        i love Lappert's too, the Kona coffee and Green Tea.

                        1. re: rumgum

                          I have to add three more votes for Lappert's, especially the Kona Coffee. The other two votes are from my daughters, who talked me into a late night run to the parlor in Koloa on our last night on the beautiful island of Kauai. I've never tasted coffee ice cream with that much coffee flavor. So rich and creamy...yum!