The 12 Best Ice Cream Shops in Miami
Get your platano maduro in dessert form.
There are many joys of living in a place where you only need a jacket when it dips below 70. Like going to the beach on a Tuesday, or eating Thanksgiving dinner outside. But unlike those two things, which you only do once a year, eating delicious ice cream on a warm afternoon can be an everyday occurrence in Miami, especially with our abundance of fantastic ice cream shops. Whether you’re feeling a gourmet popsicle or gelato that tastes like a pastelito, we’ve got no shortage of great spots. Here are the best ice creams parlors and more in Miami.
This west coast hit opened its first eastern location in Wynwood a couple of years ago, adding local nods like guava and cheese and Panther coffee ice creams to their traditional, high-fat lineup. Now boasting a second spot in Coconut Grove, Salt & Straw has also become known for its seasonal limited edition flavors, which skew inventive with turkey and cranberry at Thanksgiving, and an Iberico ham ice cream last spring.
Nothing cools you off faster on a hot Little Havana afternoon like stopping into this Calle Ocho ice cream shop, easily spotted by the giant ice cream cone sculpture above the door. The flavors are all tributes to the Magic City, with names like café con leche, platano maduro, and Willy Chirino–a mix of bourbon ice cream with black cherries. There’s also a perpetual rotation of seasonal flavors in case you run out of the originals. And Azucar has proven so popular it’s spawned locations in Downtown Dadeland and Dallas, Texas.
This narrow little shop next to Lokal in the Grove is done up to evoke memories of going over to your friend’s house after school circa 1990. So, if you’re not up for playing Blades of Steel in the back room, you can belly up to the bar, gaze at the vintage appliances, and order a giant scoop of ice cream for dinner. The décor isn’t the only thing tailor made for the ‘gram at Vicky’s, though, as their line of over-the-top milkshakes are topped with everything from graham crackers to twinkies, and most are themed after fabled ‘80s TV shows.
Miami has no shortage of good gelato spots, but the Argentine import from Italian immigrants stands tall. You’ll find authentic Italian flavors at Freddo that other shops don’t have, like Italian Zabaglione with walnuts and raisins, and Italian Mascarpone with raspberry coulis. If you’re not feeling so adventurous, Freddo plays the hits too, as the mint chocolate chunks and cookies and cream are rich indulgences that prove far too tempting for those who live nearby.
Miami’s greatest homegrown ice cream comes from Jessica Levison, a former attorney who began playing around with different flavors as a hobby and created a citywide sensation. Serendipity sources most of its ingredients from local businesses, whether its fruit and herbs from Paradise Farms or beer from J. Wakefield. The Surfside shop has become as known for its sorbets as its ice creams, with creations like pear riesling, lychee, and passionfruit sorbets enticing people into trying slightly-healthier options.
It’s never a dull time at Dasher & Crank, which literally puts out a new flavor every week, so it’s impossible to ever get bored. If you’re a creature of habit, you’ll still find something interesting to make your regular selection, like black mint with charcoal and peppermint, or the ever-popular ube macapuno with coconut and Filipino purple yams. D&C also offers an entire line of homemade cookies, cupcakes, and brownies if you’re trying to give dairy the day off.
Though we’ll always have a soft spot for the plinky sounds and summer memories of the ice cream man, for roving frozen confections nobody in South Florida tops HipPops. These gourmet gelato pops give you the chance to try all sorts of alluring flavor combinations, starting with ice cream pops like salted caramel brulee and Mexican chocolate chipotle. Each pop is dipped in one of three chocolate coverings, then covered with non-traditional toppings like caramelized pecans, salted pretzels, or shredded coconuts.
The liquid nitrogen ice cream craze of the mid-2010s hasn’t so much died down as weeded itself out. And the standout still standing is Lulu’s downtown, which starts every one of its creations with milk from grass-fed cows at Florida’s Dakin Dairy. That’s where the fun starts, as guests pick either a standard or seasonal flavor—ranging from Nutella to honey lavender—then watch Lulu’s magicians do their thing. After mixing each order from scratch, they flash freeze the stuff at -321 degrees, producing an icy, sweet treat behind a cloud of smoke that’s equal parts entertaining and delicious.
These Mexican-inspired popsicles are a far cry from the Otter Pops of your youth, where you’ll find creations ranging from boozy mojito to cookies and cream with whole oreos. But the experience doesn’t stop with frozen dessert on a stick. Once you’ve picked a paleta, you select a sauce to dip it in, like cookie butter, hazelnut, or white or dark chocolate. Then top it with one of Morelia’s finishers like graham crackers or pistachio.
It only reasons that in the haute couture and Michelin-starred streets of the Design District you’d find the most made-for-Instagram ice cream shop in the city. The bonkers offerings include everything from cones topped with cotton candy to ice cream sandwiches adorned with fruity pebbles. Got a hankering for gold flecks on your dessert? You’ll find it Madlab, where if you can imagine it on a scoop, they can probably make it happen.
Maybe you’ve never been to Frice Cream’s shop inside the Citadel food hall, but odds are you’ve had their ice cream. That’s because their original business model was creating custom flavors for local restaurants, so if you’ve ordered a “proprietary” flavor to cap off a meal, good chance it came from Frice. If you don’t feel like sitting through dinner to enjoy the stuff, pop into the Citadel and go for the funfetti cake batter or the pineapple Thai basil sorbet. Or opt for one of the seasonal flavors that are always something you’ve never seen before.
With the sad departure of Swenson’s, the mantle for childhood nostalgia ice cream falls squarely to Whip n’ Dip, a family run shop in the suburbs that’s been serving homemade scoops and cones since 1985. It’s the odd place you loved as a kid that tastes just as delicious as an adult, where licking a cone of mouth-coloring Bulldog Blitz or rich brownie batter never fails to satisfy. Though they’ve been around longer than most of our pro sports teams, they can still go scoop-to-scoop with any chic new transplant.
magazine. Matt graduated with a BBA from University of Miami and holds a master’s in journalism from the University of Florida. He currently lives in Miami with his Betta fish, Bob.