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Best Ice Cream Parlors In Manhattan Besides Serendipity?


I have a friend visiting tomorrow and I would love to take her to ice cream after dinner. Problem is, I'm cane-dependent so standing in wait at Serendipity on a Friday night is physically not possible.

Anyone with suggestions for a nice, sit down ice cream or dessert place in Manhattan we could cab to?

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  1. can you make a reservation? Explain you

    1 Reply
    1. re: mojisan

      ?? Uh, okay, I can explain. I'm usually on a wheelchair. But my friend is tiny and cant carry it down five flights of stairs for me. (no elevator) But I can walk abet slowly.

      Serendipity does not allow reservations for dessert only and last time I was there, they commented because I was on a wheelchair, seating wait could be long to 'accommodate' me and suggested we go elsewhere or stand and wait 45 minutes at least. Yeah, not going there again. Looking for something more better, at least friendlier.

    2. Does it have to be an ice cream "parlor"?? I think some of the best "ice cream" in Manhattan can be found at the best gelato shops. GROM on Bleecker near 6th Ave, and L'Arte del Gelato at 7th Ave and Carmine are two of the best. Neither has table service, but you can find room to sit outside, particularly at GROM, which has plenty of tables as well as the small park just across the street.

      1. Ronnybrook Dairy's Milk Bar in Chelsea Market has seats. There's also the seating out in the general market area. Their ice cream is terrific. I don't know how late they are open or if this is the wrong area for you, since it's not on the east side.

        2 Replies
        1. re: LNG212

          Chelsea Market isn't a great post-dinner destination. Their hours:

          Monday - Friday: 7am to 8pm, Saturdays: 7am to 7pm, Sundays: 8am to 6pm

          1. re: kathryn

            Yeah, I kinda suspected that the hours might not work; that's why I said as much. Too bad.

        2. There is a Ciao Bella Cafe on 92nd St. between Madison and Fifth -- self service with some tables -- great gelato and sorbet and much better quality and more pleasant than Serendipity, in my opinion.

          1. Everyone,

            Thank you for the tips! Keep them coming. My friend can't come until next friday so I'm open to new places that would have seating for us! :)

            2 Replies
            1. re: yunnieman

              My old brain is a bit fuzzy, but I think that Maison du Chocolate might be able to accomodate you. I prefer the gelato at Il Laboratorio, but this is a sit and stay kind of place as you requested.

              1. re: seal

                They close at 7pm, though. I just checked! Alas. Their chocolate ice cream is REALLY good.

            2. I was looking forward to the replies here because I'd really like to find a sit down place for sundaes and such. (Someone: opportunity is knocking! Why do we have so many cupcake places and no place for a sundae?)

              My suggestion would be Otto, especially if it's later. I think it's wheelchair friendly (all on 1 floor) and they have awesome gelato and some interesting "copetta" type of things that are sort of like sundaes. I think it's the sort of place where you could drop in for just dessert after prime dinner hours.

              8 Replies
              1. re: JMJD

                After some research, I've found that the combination of nice, handicapped accessible, open for post-dinner dessert, and offering table service might be a little more difficult to find. Plus, the higher end dessert bars don't seem to do so great in NYC (Dessert Studio, p*ong).

                For the purposes of the OP, I think that Keens would work best. According to Serious Eats, you can sit in the bar area and order just a sundae. According to the NYT, it seems accessible enough: "entrance to bar at street level; a few steps down, with ramp available, to tables in adjacent pub room. Restrooms are inaccessible."

                I'd add Peter Luger but a) it's in Brooklyn and b) Eater had a story about people who just wanted sundaes (not dinner) later on in the night and were refused to be seated by the host there.

                Other options:
                DBGB -- maybe in the bar area if they aren't busy?
                Clinton St Baking Company -- good hot fudge sundaes, not sure about dropping in just for dessert
                Lula's Sweet Apothecary -- not sure if they have table service, and note that they are vegan
                Dessert Club Chikalicious -- no table service, it's kinda small, they only have vanilla, but it's really good and high quality
                Fairway Cafe -- I can't confirm they still offer sundaes as their web site doesn't seem to have a dessert menu up, but EatingInTranslation.com notes they have a "cranky elevator"

                See also:

                Too bad the new location of Il Laboratorio isn't open yet -- they plan to have seating (right now it's literally just a counter) and be open late!

                Lula's Sweet Apothecary
                516 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009

                299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

                1. re: kathryn

                  Lula's is small but there are stools at a counter you can sit at. They just revamped it...I believe it's still just stools but there may be some actual chairs as well and maybe a table. They have great sundaes, but keep in mind because it's vegan it won't be the traditional style (i.e., the whipped cream is made from coconut and is coconut flavored which can overpower a sundae). Their ice cream and soft serve is amazing, though, and you wouldn't know its vegan unless it was pointed out to you (as opposed to the whipped cream which doesn't taste anything like traditional whipped cream).

                  I also second the gelaterias (like Grom), but don't know how late they're open. Really, you're better off at any of the places listed than going to Serendipity!

                  233 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

                  1. re: kathryn

                    ive been to clinton st baking company just for dessert but they werent crowded at all because it was really late. im not that big a fan of their ice cream but with their pancakes and their maple butter its fantastic. if they dont seat you because its full and they dont want u to just have dessert dt works next door has ice cream i never tried it though.

                    1. re: kathryn

                      thanks or posting the link about sundaes from seriouseats. i was always under the impression that keens used ciao bella gelato not haagen daaz. did they just change this recently? or has it always been haagen daaz?
                      also to the OP i believe noho star has the same dessert menu as keen's so you might want to try there if keens doesnt work.

                    2. re: JMJD

                      Otto does have good ice cream, but the front bar area only has high, counter-style and no seats, so it could be awkward for a person in a wheelchair. I would recommend Grom on Bleeker because there's room to sit n the park. Also, Whole Foods on Bowery has a Ciao Bella outpost downstairs and lots of tables and seating upstairs that's accessible by elevators.

                      233 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

                      1. re: encantada

                        For what it's worth I think later in the evening you could go to Otto and get a table and just order dessert -- but you could call and ask. Definitely think it's superior to walk-in type places for a "dessert experience." I think they also have enough room for a wheelchair to maneuver and it is all one level.

                        I like the suggestion of Keen's though they have some steps to get to the bar I think.
                        You might also look up Jacques Torres -- I know the Brooklyn location had a separate ice cream area with sundaes and tables but I don't know if other locations (UWS or Hudson) have the same options.

                        Last thought: Shake Shack in Madison Square Park has soft serve and offers sundaes in addition to the concretes and shakes they are known for.

                        Better question: why oh why do we not have a decent place to get a proper ice cream sundae in this town?

                        Jacques Torres
                        350 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

                        Shake Shack
                        Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                        1. re: JMJD

                          I looked on the JT web site and none of the locations seem to stay open that late (UWS does until 9pm but only Fri/Sat).

                          > Better question: why oh why do we not have a decent place to get a proper ice cream sundae in this town?

                          Hmmm, good question.

                          High rents + cost of labor = counter service/take out is easier to implement than sit-down service and requires fewer employees?

                          Upscale restaurants with good dessert programs = fewer people who will want to go somewhere else for their sweet fix? If you waited 2 hrs for dinner, you're not gonna wanna wait another 30 minutes for a seat at a sit-down dessert bar?

                          Focus on haute cuisine = chefs want to do fancy pastry offerings and not ice cream sundaes?

                          Italian influence = more gelato shops than ice cream?

                          Being a post-dinner destination = you're competing with bars and you're really only busy for a few hours each night? People who eat at 6pm want dessert at 8pm, people who eat at 8pm want dessert at 10pm, and people who eat at 10pm don't want dessert at all, they want a drink after dinner instead?

                          Just throwing some ideas out there...

                          Overall, I think NYC is not much of an ice cream town, as my ex-Boston friends complain.

                          1. re: kathryn

                            All very valid but it seems that if we are in a town with places that only serve french fries, or hummus, or cupcakes, or only australian meat pies....surely someone could survive selling ice cream sundaes? Even if it's just counter service?

                            Oh well...I guess I can only dream!

                    3. dessert places like bruno pasticceria, rocco's, veniero, Tarallucci e Vino Menu, and ferrara all have gelato, are open late, and are handicap friendly. my favorite one for gelato is by far bruno pasticceria. im not sure if u can sit down and eat on a friday night at otto just for dessert. its usually really crowded friday nights unless u go really late. otto's gelato is the creamier so if u like ice cream more than gelato you would probably like it best. but if u go to otto u should ask if u can be seated for just dessert because u have to stand to eat at the bar.

                      Tarallucci e Vino
                      15 East 18th Street, New York, NY 10003

                      1. if u dont mind a place with some noise. ellen's stardust diner is also good the seating is a little cramped if i remember if its not packed they could move tables and chairs around for you. i actually like the place a lot, the waiters\waitresses sing and from my experience they have all been very good. i always love to get a little tipsy and then sing along.

                        1. I just wanted to thank everybody for all the recommendations! We ultimately went to Milk & Cookies for their freshly baked cookie ice cream sammys! Tiny place, best to visit during 6-9pm if you want a seat. Goregous tiny street to visit. They're on 19 Commerce St, south of Bleeker, a tiny street that starts on the west side of 7th Avenue facing downtown.

                          As many of you bemoaned in your above replies, I hardily concur: why isn't there any good sit down ice cream places? One place I had gone to once had few chairs, already taken by tourists, who suggested I lean by the front door when they saw I needed to sit down or let go my cane in order to eat the ice cream. Another tourist (in a heavy accent), had commented that I should find a place more suitable for people like me. I did: Sundaes and Cones in the village. They have tables inside, the owners even grabbed an extra chair when they realized there was only three chairs left for my group of four. And their Almond cookie cream rocked.

                          Geez, I thought us NYers were rude. Sort of glad to see I was wrong.

                          Sundaes and Cones
                          95 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003

                          Milk & Cookies
                          19 Commerce St, New York, NY 10014