Frozen Treats: DC’s Best Creameries

Photo courtesy of
‘Saturday Road trip’
courtesy of ‘gregoirevdb’

They tell me the first step is admitting you have a problem. So here it goes: I am shamelessly, hopelessly, horribly in love with ice cream. Now, I say ice cream, but in actuality, ice cream is a pretty generic term for what I really mean – frozen treats. I don’t care if it is gelato, custard, actual heavy-cream ice cream, or even italian ice. As long as it is sweet, and frozen, it qualifies. My partner in crime for ice cream loving is my friend Melissa, who has the genius idea to host an ice cream bar at her wedding. She’s the only one who truly understands my love. We’ll talk about going to a Nat’s game, and the first thing out of our mouths will be “OOOOH DIPPIN DOTS!” It’s a passion, not just a hobby, people.

So when I was informed that July is National Ice Cream Month, well, then, fine. That sealed it. I had to share with you, my dear We Love DC reader, my favorite ice cream (loose term) eateries in the city.

Photo courtesy of
‘Toffee ice cream’
courtesy of ‘Daniel Greene’

Moorenkos: So I have to start with my all time favorite. I was introduced to Moorenko‘s last summer at Ray’s Hell Burger. Melissa and I would make special pilgramages to Hell Burger JUST FOR THE ICE CREAM. I finally had to go out to the actual shop in McLean myself for some straight-up ice cream loving, where I told the founder and owner Susan Soorenko that I loved her ahem, Moorenko’s ice cream so much I drove my ass to McLean and she told me I wasn’t the only one to make the pilgramage. Moorenko’s has since moved to Silver Spring (WHY GOD WHY) but I can still get my fix at ice cream savvy area eateries. Moorenko’s is located at 8030b Georgia Avenue Silver Spring, MD 20910.

Photo courtesy of
‘Creamy Corner’
courtesy of ‘M.V. Jantzen’

Thomas Sweet: No summer evening in Georgetown is complete without a visit to Thomas Sweet. With lots and lots of flavors, this established Georgetown sweet shop is a favorite with students, neighborhood folk and tourists alike. Not only do they crank out tons of ice cream flavors, they also have frozen yogurt (low fat and low sugar) for the calorie conscious. In addition to the frozen treats, they also create all kinds of chocolate dipped snacks and are well known for their fudge. Thomas Sweet is located at 3214 P St NW (between N 32nd St & N Wisconsin Ave) Washington, DC 20007.

Photo courtesy of
‘Fresh & Frozen’
courtesy of ‘M.V. Jantzen’

Dairy Godmother: President Obama (or at least his wise foodie staffers) knows what is up. Dairy Godmother, is what is up. Located in quaint Del Ray, Alexandria this custard-ery (or whatever you call it) is well loved, lines often wrap through the shop and out the door during Summer. Frozen custard is super creamy, but lower in calories and saturated fat than it’s ice cream brethren. Keeping the flavor offering small but creative, Dairy Godmother haunts me on Twitter daily, touting the special flavor of the day. In addition to custard, the Godmother also offers creative sorbets. The Dairy Godmother is located at 2310 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, VA 22301.

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘micurs’

Boccato Gelato and Espresso: Last summer a little miracle happened in my neighborhood. Boccato was born. It was glorious. And for a while, it was hidden, because it did no PR, no marketing, just opened it’s doors to Wilson Boulevard and went with it. These days, benches litter the sidewalk and the line spills out the front door. My roommate and I sometimes debate going for a walk on a hot summer night, only to gasp “OOH LETS GET GELATO!” and scurry out the door, $5 in hand. The best part about Boccato, other than the fantastic gelato, is the fact that the scoopers don’t tire of letting you try the flavors. Most of them are named cryptic things like El Coco (not chocolate, coconut) or XXX (dark, deep chocolateapalooza), and the girls behind the counter happily scoop up samples and suggest things you might like. Boccato’s flavors ring true to their fruit dopplegangers – Grapefruit, for example, is like eating a frozen grapefruit. One evening we tried all of the flavors in the case before deciding. (We are obviously heavy tippers at Boccato.) My standby flavor is Oreo Biscotti, you cannot go wrong with it. I adore everything about Boccato and cannot get enough. Boccato is located at 2719 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201.

Photo courtesy of
‘Treat at Häagen-Dazs’
courtesy of ‘JuanChristophe’

Haagen-Dazs: So I debated whether or not to put a chain on here, and if I was going to put a chain on here, then why wouldn’t I put Ben and Jerry’s. Well, I love Ben and Jerry’s but nothing is quite as lovely as licking up a dripping ice cream cone from the Chinatown Haagen-Daz while sitting on the steps of the National Portrait Gallery at dusk. This is epic summer perfection. Rich, calorie-laden ice cream, paired with a humid DC summer night and some of the best people watching in the city. How can you not list that? Plus, Haagen-Daz does traditional correctly – huge chunks of candy, large carmel swirls, rich vanilla base. It just is GOOD. And that’s what this is all about, right? Haagen-Daz is located all over the city, but my favorite is at Gallery Place, 703 7th Street, N.W Washington, DC 20001.

Photo courtesy of
‘Walk up ice cream’
courtesy of ‘afagen’

Gifford’s: Okay so here’s the thing. I realize Gifford’s is a DC institution. But I don’t love it. GASP YEAH I SAID IT, I don’t. It’s fine, but I’d rather go to the number of places I listed above. So why is it on this list? Well, here’s why: milkshakes at the Nationals games. Ooooh, perfection. Especially when paired with a soft pretzel. And what’s an ice cream feature without a little love for the milkshake? Perfectly swirled, creamy and barely slurp-able, Gifford’s makes a solid milkshake to be enjoyed with baseball. Gifford’s has locations all over the city.

So there you have it. Our dear city’s best ice cream. Gridskipper would suggest that I missed a few, namely Max’s Best Ice Cream, and Larry’s Homemade, but I’ve not made it to those two yet, so if you have, and feel passionately, tell it to us in the comments. Other local foodies would feel that I passed over Pitango, the new love of Dupont, but I just haven’t made it there yet either, but I hear only fabulous things. So, again, dish in the comments. What’s your favorite ice cream treat in DC?

Katie moved to DC in 2007, and has since embarked upon a love affair with the city. She’s an education reform advocate and communications professional during the day; at night and on the weekends, she’s an owner here at We Love DC. Katie has high goals to eat herself through the entire city, with only her running shoes to save her from herself. For up-to-the-minute news and reviews (among other musings), follow her on Twitter!

17 thoughts on “Frozen Treats: DC’s Best Creameries

  1. The Ben & Jerrys in Alexandria, for me. I love a good coffee ice cream, and so when you combine theirs with espresso fudge chips (!!!), there’s no better warm-weather treat. Its called CoffeeCoffeeBuzzBuzzBuzz- and if I could buy it by the tub, I probably would.

  2. I’m now addicted to Pitango. Note it’s Logan though, not Dupont, on P btwn 14th & 15th. It’s a bit expensive, but so worth it. You must try soon!

    I just got introduced to Boccato and my god you’re right it is glorious! Sigh. Last time I was there, two adorable little girls dressed all in pink were doing their “gelato dance!” Sweetness overload.

  3. I agree with Jenn, Pitango is really good. Always a line, and a bit on the expensive side, but their espresso and hazelnut gelatos are terrific.

    Also, Max’s on Wisconsin Avenue in Glover Park is great. Their Graham Cracker ice cream is one of my favorites. They didn’t have it last time I went though :(

  4. There’s this guy in Bethesda that sells Hawaiian shaved ice from a cart on the street corner. Shaved ice is pretty standard… standardly delicious. But he is there all day and the line just keeps on going. It’s very cute, a great area to hang out on a park bench and enjoy your shaved ice. And in every cup there is a treat at the bottom!

  5. Boccato in Arlington is AMAZING!!! You must try the hazelnut gelato with a double shot of espresso poured over it. TO DIE FOR!!!!! Seriously… I may go get some after work.

  6. Have you been to Dolcezza in Georgetown? Amazing, fabulous gelato. I will always have a place in my heart for Thomas Sweet, but Dolcezza is awesome.

    And Dairy Godmother, oh how I love it! My dog gets treated to their doggie ice creams when I go there :) Totally worth the trip over the river!

  7. You are right about Dairy Godmother for custard. But for gelato–and I say this as someone with an Italian last name who has eaten gelato all over Italy–my favorite in the whole world comes from Dolcezza in Georgetown. I just had some of their blackberry and saw stars, it packed such a flavor punch.

  8. I am tempted to refrain from trying Dolcezza just because it so completely annoys me when a business fills their webpage with animated junk so completely that there isn’t an address for me to copy & paste into google maps.

    Because I love you, dear readers, I will be an enabler just this once.

    Dolcezza in Georgetown

  9. I was just introduced to Boccato’s recently – wow! I have the chocolate hazelnut and it was like eating a cup of Nutella. Can’t wait to try out some of the other places on this list.

  10. I’m with you on Giffords! Totally overrated!

    Totally disagree about Thomas Sweet, though. Dolcezza is 100x better!!! I was all excited to try Thomas Sweet after all the things I’ve heard, so I took my ice cream loving friend from out of town there, and the unfriendly worker dropped her sample on his sleeve, then scooped it up and handed it to her. Gross! …and that was me giving it a 2nd chance. NEVER going back!!!

    Dolcezza is amazing, though! All organic and local ingredients. The coconut and hazelnut flavors are my fave. They also have dulce de leche filled churros, mmm!

    Def going to have to try Pintango and Boccatos!

  11. This list is seriously lacking “Lazy Sundae” in Falls Church (formerly of Clarendon). Excellent ice cream with a small town feel. :)

  12. I’ll probably get “creamed” for this one-ahahahahaha no pun intended-but I do love me some McFlurry and Friendly’s Cyclones are DA-BOMB!

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  14. There’s also a Dolcezza in Bethesda in the new Bethesda Lane development. The portions seem really small but they’re actually a good size considering the flavors are really rich. I’m glad to hear their churros are good. I’ve been debating whether or not to try them.

    I have to say I’m partial to Gifford’s simply b/c I grew up here eating their ice cream. The new prices they introduced a year and a half ago(?) are absurd, though. I’ve stopped going mainly for that reason.

    I’m really interested in going to some of the places on the list I’ve never tried. How does the custard at The Dairy Godmother compare to Dickey’s Frozen Custard? I had Dickey’s once and could only handle about three spoonfuls b/c it was ridiculously rich.