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Ice Cream in DC

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Now that summer is coming around. my ice cream obsession is starting to gear up.

I live right around the corner from a Ben and Jerry's but I grew up on local, non-chain ice cream parlors and miss them quite a bit.

I know about the place in Dupont (can't remember the name but I call the guy the Ice Cream Nazi...ordering is very intense but the home made hot fudge is worth it.)

I know there are a number of good places in VA but I'm looking for stuff in the district. Preferably metro accessible.

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  1. Not Metro accessible, but my three faves are Thomas Sweet (bittersweet chocolate), Dolcezza, and Max's in Glover Park specifically for the Key Lime Pie ice cream which is only available in the warm months.

    13 Replies
    1. re: caphill2320

      Wow! Key Lime Pie ice cream...that sounds awesome. I might need to take a special trip out there just for that. That's at Max's?

      1. re: Elyssa

        Yeah, Max's right on Wisconsin near Rocklands. My fiance craves it all winter! It actually has bits of crushed graham crust in it too. It's super good on a warm day.

        1. re: caphill2320

          Max's has a few flavors that are exceptional, including the KLP, pumpkin (he does pies well), and blueberry/white chocolate. Probably my favorite in the area right now.

          1. re: Steve

            Max's chocolate ice cream is fantastic as well (my wife particularly likes the chocolate with marshmallows). I'd also recommend the pumpkin ice cream in the fall. Wow, I'm going to need try that key lime pie flavor, I might just have to stop by on the way home today and see if its in.

            1. re: drjimkim

              Let us know if it's over there right now!!!

              I'm totally sold. Just the variety of flavors that have been described is incredible. Definitly no Phish Food at this Max's place! I'll have to check it out soon.

              1. re: Elyssa

                Elyssa - I got sidetracked last night and missed out on Max's by the time I trekked over to Whole Foods right before closing time. I'll swing by this weekend and update on the availability of flavors, particularly key lime pie.

                1. re: drjimkim

                  Ah that would be great. My own personal ice cream detective!!!

                  1. re: Elyssa

                    Made it to Max's last night - they did not, unfortunately, have the Key Lime Pie, but they did have Berrylicious (tasted very much like the Black Cherry ice cream i used to have at a local parlor when I was younger), Lemon Custard (not bad, but not tart enough for my taste), Mexican chocolate (delicious), Caramel, Butter Pecan (my wife had this - pretty good, but not fantastic), and a bunch of other flavors that I didn't try. They did have, however, Blueberry Sorbet, which I have had before and really enjoyed.

                    1. re: drjimkim

                      Wow, that sounds amazing, I'm definitely making a stop this week.

      2. re: caphill2320

        I really like Thomas Sweet's soft serve yogurt. It's hard to find good fro yo around here. Their snickers flavor is delicious and supposedly is only 10/cals an ounce. Their ice cream and fudge are great too.

        Max's has pretty good ice cream but I refuse to go there anymore. The owner and employees are SO rude there. On numerous occassions myself (and people I know) have encountered undeserving rudeness from the owner Max. There are a lot of ice cream joints around here with a lot better tasting ice cream and A LOT nicer service.

        1. re: Jacey

          Where's Thomas Sweets? In the district?

          1. re: Elyssa

            Thomas Sweet is in D.C. at Wisconsin & P NW; they're actually a small chain based in Princeton, and they do have the best bittersweet chocolate in town.

            1. re: sweth

              Thomas Sweet also has a yummy coffee oreo flavor -- not exactly an original profile, but well executed.

      3. I just had a lemon water ice from the Philadelphia Water Ice Factory on H Street. Smooth, puckery, sherbet-like. Not icecream per se but good, cheap, non-franchise and downtown. Also, not Metro accessible though.

        1. what about the argentinian gelato place in georgetown? that is supposed to be good.

          18 Replies
          1. re: Jeserf

            dolcezza. And i love it. My favorite ice cream in the area. They also have homemade churros!
            there is also a Giffords over at 10th and E, NW, that isn't too bad...

            1. re: food.fiend

              Yes. Giffords ice cream is really good and creamy. I use to go to a Giffords up in Maine when I went to summer camp up there. It was always a special treat to get the sundae.

              1. re: Elyssa

                bahh giffords sucks when you're used to Dave and Andys (pittsburgh) or barts/herrells/toscaninis (massachusetts).

                It's hard to live in Ice Cream "hot spots" and move here.

                1. re: Jeserf

                  I just think you have to adjust your evaluative lens to the particular context. Gifford's is probably the best local chain...but amen to your thoughts on Boston/Cambridge as the i.c. capital of the nation! (To add to your Boston list, there's also Lizzy's, Christina's, and JP Licks for those soft-serve fiends.)

                2. re: Elyssa

                  Gifford's in Maine!? I didn't think there were any outside the DC area (two in VA, two in MD) until after the "real" Gifford's shut down and the name was taken over by someone else. Apparently there's some family connection to whoever is running the business now. I bought a pint of Swiss Chocolate at Magruder's a while back for nostalgia's sake and I thought it was about how I remembered it. A nice change from Ben & Jerry's.

                  1. re: MikeR

                    There was most definitly a Giffords in Waterville, ME. That's why I was shocked when I moved down here and saw the Giffords out in Bethesda. All along I only thought there was 1 Giffords...didn't realize it was a chain.

                    1. re: MikeR

                      I could be wrong, but I think that's a different Gifford's up in Maine. Gifford's is awesome, though ... they're the only ones to do chocolate chip (and thus coffee chip) right. I grew up with them as well.

                      1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                        I think you guys are right. I just looked up the Giffords web page and there was no info on a Maine location.

                        What are the chances of 2 ice cream places named Giffords both having excellent ice cream!?

                        1. re: Elyssa

                          IMO, the Giffords here is not very "New England". When I think of all the incredible ice cream I've had when living up there, it's usually way more fluffy, yet creamy, then they have down here. Places here seem to get rid of all the air in the process and it's much more firm, if that makes sense (but not like gelato)

                          1. re: Jeserf

                            Giffords of Maine and Giffords down here are different companies (I'm a Mainer and was shocked when I heard they opened a "Giffords" on H Street and had to do my research). They are both good, but there are a lot of better places than Giffords of Maine back home!

                            Maine: http://www.giffordsicecream.com/
                            DC: http://www.giffords.com/

                            1. re: jakeh54

                              I'm a summer Mainer ... can you suggest some good places up around Augusta? I'm going to start a thread about this on the NE board, so please respond there! :)

                    2. re: Elyssa

                      The Gifford's in Maine is not the same Gifford's as in D.C., which is a local ice cream and candy maker of long standing though its long since it was owned and operated by the Gifford family. Sorry for the redundancy.

                      1. re: skipper

                        I just got home from grocery shopping at Whole Foods in Falls Church. Today, for the the first time, I noticed Giffords ice-cream in the freezer section. I bought a pint of Swiss chocolate ice cream for old times sake. I'll probably hate it since my tastes now run toward dark, bittersweet chocolate. Nevertheless, Swiss chocolate sundaes were an important part of my childhood.I can still see the Georgia Avenue Giffords in my mind and remember the excitement when my folks took us there.

                        Good memories, too, of the ice cream logs with the seasonal design in the center.

                        1. re: Indy 67

                          I saw Gifford's in Magruder's recently, too.

                          1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                            Gifford's is definitely worth a visit. This month, they're featuring a passion fruit flavor that is puckeringly delish. They also have a lemon flavor for you KLP devotees, which is truly refreshing during summer months, but given today's temperature...

                            1. re: ganacher

                              ^^Which store do you go to? I want to try that lemon!!

                              1. re: beauxgoris

                                Friendship Heights -- it's just north of the Metro station, a little east of Wisconsin. If you like the lemon, you'll love the passion fruit.

                                1. re: ganacher

                                  ^^Great! That's very close to where I am. Thanks so much!

                3. i like larry's homemade ice cream in dupont circle.
                  they make an excellent scoop called 'jack on the rocks' which is chocolate ice cream with jack daniel's whiskey mixed in. delicious.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: kneelconqueso

                    Yes! Larry's is what I was discussing before but couldn't remember the name. The Ice Cream Nazi! But they more then make up for it with their homemade hot fudge...and crazy flavors. Green Tea and some other interesting flavors.

                  2. I stumbled upon an ice cream place right next door to Mayorga in Silver Spring. I can't recall the name, but their sweet cream was very, very good.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Jay

                      Moorenko's.

                      Yep, I agree, it's really good.

                      1. re: Smokey

                        Moorenko can be very good -- berry flavors, especially -- although I find it tends to vary from batch to btach (which is as it should be -- and they're very generous with offering tastes).

                        As for gelato, dolcezza is good, and I like the folks there, but . . . really, this is something we all must do -- we *must* implore the folks who run Capogiro in Philadelphia to open a branch here. So amazingly good you all will be heartbroken that you didn't have it sooner. They sell pre-packaged pints for $10 at Balducci's stores here, and it's great -- but the variety and freshness in the store is simply amazing. Had a blood orange sorbetto a few weeks ago that was breathtakingly yummy.

                        1. re: MartyL

                          I was unimpressed by dolcezza last (although the only) time I went - only so-so churros (too pricey, if I recall correctly) and the gelato was unremarkable. Then again, ever since visiting Il Gelato di San Crispino in Rome, gelato from anywhere else just doesn't do it for me, although admittedly, I'm not a big gelato eater.

                          1. re: MartyL

                            I also like Moorenko. I usually get the sweet cream ice cream with crushed cherries which is great. The employees there are nice there as well.

                            1. re: MartyL

                              Yes -- that place in Philly is memorable...their dark chocolate almost hurts!

                              1. re: ganacher

                                I know! When I was living in Philly sometimes going by just for a "taste" of the dark chocolate at Capogiro would be enough of a dessert. It really is amazing. I lived in Florence, and can confidently say Cap's dark chocolate matches up in pure diviness as the best bacio in Florence.

                                1. re: Jacey

                                  Agreed -- I seldom struggle to finish any kind of frozen dessert, but it's like some kind of brownie-batter-meets-opium confection that eats you alive.

                            2. re: Smokey

                              Moorenko's bittersweet chocolate is very good. Please go there! I am afraid they are not getting enough business since construction took over most of the parking area and I don't want to lose them.

                          2. I haven't been in many years, but what about Cone E. Island in the 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. building near GW?

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: cheesepowder

                              I like Cone E Island in the 2000 Penn building. Others may scoff, but I like their soft servce frozen yogurt. The peanut butter flavor is very good. I could do without the hordes of GW students though.

                              1. re: ChocoHound

                                Giffords Chocolate Chocolate Chip is the darkest bitterest chocolate ice cream I've ever had, so freaking good. Their peppermint stick is TDF too!!!

                                1. re: ChocoHound

                                  I eat at Cone E Island once a day (I attend GW Law). They are always changing their soft serve flavors so I never get bored and their skinny minnie flavors are something crazy like 10 calories per serving!! The only draw back is that they only take cash.

                                  1. re: JAC13

                                    The ice cream at Tropical ice cream (or something like that) on Georgia Ave. is amazing too. Their lemon ice cream is soooo good.

                                    1. re: beauxgoris

                                      Yes!!! I forgot about that place but you are right. I love that they have some very interesting flavors of fruits that I have never even heard of. My favorite, though, it the lychee.

                                      1. re: JAC13

                                        ^^I've never had teh lychee - I'll have to try that one next time I'm there. It's such a easy place to drive right by - but it's a gem (I think!).

                              2. Just fyi-Today I got an email (I'm signed up on the list) from Liz at The Dairy Godmother that she is re-opened after a winter hiatus. If you're not familiar, she is a Wisconsin native who makes real soft serve with standard vanilla and chocolate along with a special of the day and sherberts. Doggie treats too!
                                The Dairy Godmother is in Del Ray, Alexandria

                                www.houndstoothgourmet.com

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: monavano

                                  I believe the Dairy Godmother sells frozen custard, not ice cream. Yeah, they are similar, but technically not the same. BTW, Milwaukee Frozen Custard is open all year and sells a very credible frozen custard.

                                2. It's also waaaaay off the beaten path -- and kinda smack dab in the middle of strip mall hell -- but there's a shop called Hawaiian Scoop in Ashburn, VA that serves Lappert's, a local ice cream sold all over Hawaii. It's also the opposite of local in that sense, but for anyone who has visited Hawaii and enjoyed flavors like an obscenely buttery Macadamia or Kauai Pie (coffee, fudge, coconut, macadamia), it's kind of a kick to experience closer to home. Needless to say, it doesn't taste as fresh and doesn't deliver the full sensory experience.

                                  1. Larry is the Ice Cream Nazi. The guy is genuinely mean and the ice cream is not worth the meanness. Honestly, it is a chain, but my vote for best ice cream is Maggie Moos. I also like Thomas Sweet but it is a hike from Dupont.