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Best Soft Serve In The City


You never get too old for soft serve. There’s something about the sight of the ice cream truck and the snowy white swirls of vanilla soft serve on a sugar cone.   Nowadays, there’s a lot more options that just Mister Softee.  Soft serve’s gotten an artisanal makeover and places like Chickalicious are upping the ante with real, vanilla bean-specked version.   This spring, there’s everything from from ginger and passion fruit soft serve at Bar Breton to blueberry muffin at Momofuku Milk Bar, and even white sesame at Kyotofu.

Address: 705 9th Ave
Phone: (212) 974-6011
You don’t have to suffer a soft serve-less life because you can’t eat dairy.  This Asian dessert bar, located in Hell’s Kitchen, performs both savory & sweet wonders with tofu.   But their finest work is soy milk soft serve (pictured right.)  The results are exotic and luscious flavors, including
chocolate black soybean and white sesame.

Momofuku Milk Bar
Address: 207 2nd Ave and 15 w 56th St
Phone: (212) 254-3500

Self-control is futile at this East Village dessert bar.   Christina Tosi’s way too talented and her desserts are way too imaginative to resist.  She’s like the Willy Wonka of pastry chefs, concocting compost cookies from coffee grounds with pretzels and graham cracker crumbs, candy bar pie, volcano bread and plenty of other freshly baked goodies.  Don’t forget to try the nostalgically flavored soft serve with flavors like blueberry muffin, zucchini bread and cinnamon bun.   This self-proclaimed “Dairy Queen” chef also makes a cereal milk-flavored ice cream to evoke those Saturday morning cartoons memories with toppings like cornflake crunch and apple streusel.

Bar Breton ice cream cart
Address: 254 Fifth Ave
Phone: (212)213-4999

It’s not technically soft-serve, but we couldn’t leave out this
artisanal, atypically soft, hard ice cream at this French brasserie in
Madison Square Park.   Inside, they specialize in Breton’s famed buckwheat crepes, but
the sidewalk cart is dedicated to $2 cups of uniquely flavored ice cream, like
tarragon, ginger and passion fruit.

Custard Cup Drip_999.jpg

Shake Shack
Address: Southeast corner of Madison Square Park near 23rd St. and 366 Columbus Ave at 77th St.
Phone: and (212) 889-6600 and (646) 747-8770

Ignore the dinner before dessert rule.   It doesn’t apply at any one of these outposts .  First, head to the custard window, so you’ll have a luscious frozen snack to distract you while waiting on line for a Shake Shack burger and fries.  Besides, the custard’s are just as outstanding as the burgers.  You can never go wrong with the Concrete, which reminds me of ice cream with the works —  a blend of fudge, chocolate chunks, cookie dough and all other kinds of candy mix-ins.   Perhaps the best strategy is to eat according to the custard calendar with a different flavor, like salted caramel, for every day of the month.

Timmy O’s Frozen Custard
Address: 49-07 104th St. (Queens)
Phone: (516) 242-1843

Visiting Mets fans now have another reason to go to games.   The Lemon Ice King is a classic fixture, but Timmy O’s is an exciting addition to the neighborhood.   Timmy O’Leary is serious about his custard creations.  This Frozen Dessert Institute grad creates dense, rich custards.  Be sure to try the vanilla — made from exotic-sounding Madagascar vanilla beans — but don’t overlook the flavor of the day. I’m partial to the blueberry pie or coconut cream pie, both of which make me question my loyalty to the nearby ices I grew up with.

Lulu’s Sweet Apothecary
Address: 516 East 6th Street
Phone: (646) 912-4549

It’s hard to get used to the idea of dairy-free dessert that’s actually worth eating,  But you’ll find a way at this cozy, vegan ice cream parlor in the East Village.  Instead of milk, Lulu’s uses nut and coconut milk to create an intensely flavorful soft serve.  You can hardly taste the difference. Really. With over 40 toppings and sauces to choose from, the sundaes are irresistible. I highly recommend the chocolate coconut with gluten-free hot fudge and coconut flakes.

Tuck Shop
Address: 115 St. Mark’s Place and 68 East 1st St. and 250 West 49th St.
Phone: (212)979 5200 and (212) 757-8481

This Australian eatery is known for their signature meat pies, but don’t leave without trying their vanilla slice, a deliciously dense vanilla custard in a puff pastry, topped with white fondant icing.   At the risk of offending the Good Humor Man, this pretty much blows your standard ice cream sandwich away.  .

Spot Dessert Bar
Address: 13 St. Mark’s Place
Phone: (212)677-5670

Pichet Ong’s not your average pastry chef.  He’s made a name for himself with avant-garde, Asian-inflected desserts.   He’s worked everything from Spice Market to P*ONG, recently resurfacing at Spot’s Dessert Bar with whimsical soft serve featuring flavors, like Vietnamese coffee and Green Tea.  And if that’s not unorthodox enough for you, toppings include lychee, green tea soil or even tapioca.

Blue Marble Ice Cream
Address: 196 Court St. at Wyckoff St. (Brooklyn)
No phone

Handmade, farm fresh ice cream’s not something you see everyday in New York. This ice cream parlor It’s about time Blue Marble started making soft serve ice cream.  This Brooklyn ice cream parlor lays claim to organic, artisanal ice cream  made with organic sugar and grass-fed dairy.  The flavor to try is a rich double chocolate.

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