Food & Drink

The Spots You Need to Know in Toronto's Soft-Serve Revolution

Published On 08/18/2016 Published On 08/18/2016
Momofuku soft serve
Courtesy of Momofuku
Sweet Jesus

Sweet Jesus

Entertainment District & other locations

The name “Sweet Jesus” is synonymous with soft serve in Toronto. Headed by Monarch & Misfits (of La Carnita and Home of the Brave), Sweet Jesus provides the heat-stricken masses with fully loaded, all-dressed soft serve in the summer, and warms Toronto’s frozen soul in the dead of winter with signature hot chocolate and espresso drinks, each confectionary creation eminently Instragrammable. While the line can be around the block at the John St location, head over to Queen St East or Yonge and Eglinton for a much shorter wait time. Know that each location has unique flavours, so true SJ devotees will want to hit up all three.

Wooffles & Cream

Markham

If you can find this inconspicuous vendor in the New Kennedy Square strip mall in Markham, then you’ve hit the soft-serve jackpot. It regularly has just two flavours, matcha green tea and vanilla, but they're the only two you’ll ever need from Wooffles & Cream. Dress up a matcha & vanilla swirl with one of its famous egg waffles -- we recommend the Lap Cheong (chinese sausage) & Seaweed for the ultimate sweet and savory combo -- or try it fully loaded in the Matchazuki parfait cup.

Tom's Dairy Freeze

Etobicoke

Tom’s Dairy Freeze is the godfather of Toronto soft serve. Swirling the best in the business since 1969, this institution is well worth the trip to Etobicoke. Everything from the walk-up window to the battered picnic tables speaks to Tom’s legacy. The classic vanilla soft serve is far and away the best-textured in the GTA -- no iciness whatsoever, just pure, unadulterated cream. Try the classic soft serve dipped in a cone, or a whipped cream, peanut, strawberry, pineapple, chocolate-topped banana split if you’re feeling especially decadent.

Tsujiri | Flickr/J o n a G r a p h Y

Tsujiri

Downtown Core

This Japanese transplant specializes in one flavour and one flavour only: matcha green tea. Tsujiri comes from a long line of matcha-green-tea royalty: it was founded in Kyoto in 1860, over 150 years ago. It has a crisper, stronger matcha flavour than Wooffles & Cream, and the lineup 'round the block at the tiny Bay and Dundas location is indication enough that the Downtown crowds aren’t disappointed in the least. If you’re not feeling soft serve, branch out and try a matcha cream puff or matcha parfait.

Uncle Tetsu's Matcha Cafe

Downtown Core

If you’re feeling a good old-fashioned matcha soft serve bang bang, you can find infamous Uncle Tetsu, the original purveyor of Japanese desserts in the Downtown Core, literally 170 meters from Tsujiri. Right next to the famous cheesecake shop, you’ll find the cafe serving a variety of matcha desserts. While some bemoan the matcha isn’t as strong as Tsujiri’s, you should try a deliciously melty matcha soft serve with a milk twist and judge for yourself.

Kekou

Chinatown

Kekou is a gelateria specializing in Asian-inspired flavours, but its small-but-mighty soft serve selection is not to be taken lightly. If you’re over matcha, hit up a twist of jasmine tea & almond tofu soft serve. The jasmine tea is subtle and refreshing, while the almond tofu’s sweetness is reminiscent of a light marzipan -- the perfect complementary flavours to swirl on a hot summer’s day.

Roselle

Roselle

Corktown

The portions at Roselle may be small, but these little cups pack a serious punch. Roselle made its name with its famous Earl Grey topped with a butter cookie and pearls, and now houses a selection of rotating flavours. Roselle is manned by husband-and-wife duo Steph and Bruce who met while working abroad in Paris, and who focus their dessert shop on French-inspired treats. Definitely get the turtle tart and banana eclair if you’re not in the mood for ice cream.

Momofuku Milk Bar

Momofuku Milk Bar

Financial District

Yeah, yeah, Momofuku again. Is there anything franchise-owner David Chang can’t do? Toronto is blessed with the only franchise location in Canada, and the cereal milk soft serve is simply another testament to the wizardry of the brand, this time under Christina Tosi. How they make it taste exactly like the leftover milk steeped in soggy cereal from your morning bowl of corn flakes, we’ll never know. Have it with the sweet & salty cornflake crunch post-ramen (the noodle bar is directly below) and your life will be complete.

Rogers Centre

Entertainment District

While not a soft-serve vendor per se, there’s nothing more heavenly than a chocolate-vanilla swirl in a mini Jays helmet to cool down during one of those long, hot weekend games. Going for $7 for a heaping portion (and a mini helmet you can take home!), it’s one of the best value, and best-tasting, treats you can get at Rogers Centre.

WVRST

Entertainment District

WVRST is a bumping Entertainment District mess hall-style sausage joint, and while it's primarily known for the wieners, it's also serving up some excellent house-made soft serve. Wash down a kangaroo sausage with a cup of maple rosemary soft serve with duck fat fry bits. The ultimate sweet-savory dessert, duck fat fry bits take this creamy cup to the next level.

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1. Sweet Jesus 106 John St, Toronto, M5H 1X9 (Queen St West)

This industrial-chic soft serve parlor doles out creative cones like banana ice cream drizzled with peanut butter, marshmallow cinnamon toast crunch swirls, and lemon coconut cream pie ice pops. The shop is narrow and sleekly designed, so taking your cone to go, and enjoying it while strolling through the boutiques in the entertainment district is advised.

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2. Wooffles & Cream 8360 Kennedy Rd, Markham, L3R 9W4

Hidden inside a food court in New Kennedy Square, this food stall specializes in an imported Hong Kong treat that combines egg waffles with soft serve, creating an ice cream sandwich that pairs salty with sweet, and warm with cold. Wooffles & Cream is a walk-up venue, and there's often a wait, but you can kill time by watching employees magically turn liquid mixtures into soft, dimpled waffles.

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3. Tom's Dairy Freeze 630 The Queensway, Toronto,

Dressed in blue and white, this old-fashioned walk-up has been serving the same burgers and soft serve since 1969. The old-school menu serves everything from sundaes and floats, to homemade burgers and freshly cut fries, and if you're a veteran, you'll combine the two for a sweet and salty treat.

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4. Tsujiri 147 Dundas St W, Toronto, M5G 1P5

Tsujiri capitalizes on the matcha craze by offering an all-matcha menu that infuses the green powder into everything from macarons, to soft serve, to lattes. Located in downtown's Little Japan, the green-accented space furnishes few seats, but everyone can play spectator as matcha drinks are whisked in artful fashion behind the bar.

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5. Uncle Tetsu's Matcha Cafe 596 Bay St, Toronto,

This Japan-based matcha shop initially hit a popular stride thanks to its sibling cheesecake shop, located immediately next door. The space has no seating, which works favorably for the lines waiting to get their portions of matcha-infused soft serve and pastries.

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6. Kekou Gelato House 394 Queen Street W, Toronto, M5V 2A6

The space may be ambitiously large at this craft gelato house, but that's because Kekou's Asian-inspired offerings are ample in variety and habit-forming in their unique sweetness. Gelato is the main event here, and it comes in sweet tooth-delighting flavors like Hong Kong milk tea, vietnamese coffee, and black sesame. Other sweets like ice cream bars, popsicles, homemade sodas, and cookies are also flavored in the shade of all your favorite Asian treats (i.e., jasmine tea soft serve and Vietnamese-style coffee bars), and you'll find yourself actually filling out your punch card for once.

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7. Roselle Desserts 362 King St E, Toronto, M5A 1K9

Minimalistic in design, and petite in size, this sunshine-filled dessert cafe specializes in treats apt for tea parties, but enjoyed by patrons on all days and occasions of the week. The soft serve is renown, offered in rotating flavors like buttermilk and Earl Grey, but we wouldn't recommend against the crepe cakes, banana eclairs, or crispy chocolate chip cookies.

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8. Momofuku Milk Bar 190 University Ave, Toronto, M5H 0A3

Directly above the Toronto branch of Momofuku Noodle Bar, Milk Bar serves all of Christina Tosi's infamous (and truly addicting) confections: crack pie, compost cookies, birthday cake truffles, and baking mixes in which sugar is guaranteed to be the first ingredient. The retail space's shelves are stocked with pre-packaged goods shipped directly from the production kitchen in New York, so grab a basket and load up on as many pretzel-potato-chip-coffee-oatmeal-butterscotch-and-chocolate-chip (aka compost) cookies as you can manage.

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9. Rogers Centre 1 Blue Jays Way, Toronto, M5V 1J1 (Fashion District)

Home of the Toronto Blue Jays, Rogers Centre (originally known as the SkyDome) opened in 1989 and has been hosting baseball games and thousands of musical events, trade fairs, and carnivals since. While the venue hosts more than 3.5 million guests each year, the most riotous and patriotic likely converge at Blue Jays games, when the stadium turns into a blue-washed shrine to The Six.

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10. WVRST 609 King St W, Toronto, M5V 1M5 (Niagara)

Located in the Entertainment District, WVRST serves a wide variety of dogs and sausages, from traditional bratwursts to fancy kangaroo, pheasant or elk varieties, with toppings such as sautéed onions and sweet peppers. The space likens a traditional German beer hall, with wide communal tables, dim lighting, and of course, plenty of bottled, canned, and on tap beer.

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