By Babs Rodriguez
The most challenging part of satisfying your sweet tooth with ice cream is choosing a flavor.
Some inspiration follows, but our foolproof advice is to pair an old favorite with something new. And always keep a half-gallon of vanilla bean — the universal donor of ice cream — in your freezer to elevate any baked dessert or inspire an impromptu make-your-own-sundae competition. Finally, to instantly douse summer’s sizzle, nothing beats the cold comfort of an ice cream float. Launch yours with soda, champagne or cold-brew coffee.
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
The late-night ice cream run to the grocery store is a summertime tradition, but whether you are looking for a movie night companion or a dinner party contribution, a dash into Central Market for a pint of Van Leeuwen will do you right. The Brooklyn-born treat uses only natural ingredients, with each batch made from scratch in the custardy French style. Vanilla Bean is the gold standard for simply delicious, but we are suckers for over-the-top Brooklyn Brown Sugar Chunk. Spooning the molasses-redolent muscovado ice cream — crowded with cookie dough, candied walnuts and fudge brownie pieces — is a date night commitment worth making. Speaking of date night, you might consider an outing to the Van Leeuwen Ice Cream outpost in Dallas, where you’ll find the Strawberry Margarita flavor, a Big D exclusive.
Shops of Southlake, 1425 E. Southlake Blvd., 817-310-5600, centralmarket.com or West Village, 3699 McKinney Ave., Dallas, 972-982-0232, vanleeuwenicecream.com
Back-A-Bit Farm Creamery
The Ice Cream Place quietly rebranded in 2020, when the shop was acquired by horse trainer and Keller petting zoo owner Ashley Bostrom. The family-owned biz considers the butterfat-rich creaminess of its product a legacy (the original secret source for cream was shared by a former owner). Expect the classics, but Bostrom also works with her team to create seasonal flavors and treats including sundaes, sorbets and gluten-free offerings. Custom ice cream cakes and pies require advance notice. Among our favorites? Scoops of Elephant Ears (vanilla ice cream swirled with peanut butter and chocolate chunks) and Eyes Wide Open, an amped up coffee ice cream, in iconic black-and-white cowhide-look cups. The waffle cones are tasty, but cups keep us from making a mess as we try to beat the heat. The owners support local causes and encourages customers to make their mark outside with sidewalk chalk.
1959 W. Southlake Blvd., 682-651-7948, icecreamplace.business.site
Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream
The Plano-based copmany had us at “Ice Cream Makes You Pretty,” but even without the clever (and true) slogan, the high percentage of butterfat and other premium ingredients would have won us over. The Philadelphia business found its way to Texas in 1992, bringing along the scoop on spumoni as well as all-natural flavors such as pistachio and rum raisin. Calling itself an ice cream caterer, Henry’s provides delivery of cold treats to parties as well as to restaurants. In Southlake, find Henry’s at Taverna Rossa, where the signature TX Whiskey Chocolate Stout Cake is paired with Homemade Oreo ice cream over candied bacon. It’s a lot, but wait, there’s more: a warm Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie arrives with Henry’s Vanilla Bean, and the hot-from-the-oven Salted Caramel Bread Pudding arrives with Henry’s Cinnamon ice cream. Life is not without hard choices.
Park Village, 1151 E. Southlake Blvd., 817-809-4533, tavernarossa.com
Crumbl Cookies and ice cream
Cooked up in 2017 when two cousins in Logan, Utah, became obsessed with creating the perfect chocolate chip cookie, Crumbl Cookies now sells a weekly rotation of four to five flavors in 36 states (and counting). The famed giant chocolate chip cookie is a menu mainstay, but the boon companion to all the fresh-baked offerings is a roster of ice cream. We doubled down on self-indulgence by sandwiching Peanut Butter Brittle ice cream between chocolate chip cookies. Imagine the possibilities for Raspberry Cheesecake and Snickerdoodle ice creams paired with the cookies of your choice. Or pretend to be virtuous with plain vanilla and whatever over-the-top cookies are featured when you visit. Ice cream is sold by the half-pint; order in-store or on the app.
1516 E. Southlake Blvd., 817-601-8162, crumblcookies.com/southlake
Azucar Cuban ice cream
Iced coffee takes on another dimension when you splash a scoop of Azucar Cuban ice cream into cold-brew java. Coffee floats aren’t on the menu at Main Line Coffee Bar at Harvest Hall in Grapevine, but the barista happily accommodated our wish for one. We supercharged our morning caffeine run with the distinctively flavorful Mexican Vanilla. Later in the day, the same ice cream whirred into a boozy milkshake with Kahlua or a shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey promises a happy hour or two. Founded in Miami’s Little Havana in 2011, Azucar Ice Cream Company in the Bishop Arts District of Dallas is the source of Main Line’s scoops (you’ll have to visit there for to-go pints). Cuban ice creams lean sweet, but in a country where everything was rationed for decades, such a sugary indulgence tasted like freedom.
Harvest Hall (inside Hotel Vin), 815 S. Main St., Grapevine, 817-251-3050, harvesthall.com
Milwaukee Joe’s Ice Cream
Family-owned and operated, MJ’s has scoop shops in Irving and Southlake — and, yes, it has Wisconsin roots. In 1995, federal agent Joe Libowsky decided to leave his Milwaukee home to move to Texas and enforce the high standards required for making artisanal ice cream. The company still uses his small-batch techniques and local ingredients. New flavors come and go, but Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough remains a crowd-pleaser, and coffee addicts lap up Just Java. As for the unexpected, a very blue Black Licorice fills the bill for chic good looks in a milkshake, cone, bowl or pint; if you like licorice, you’ll love it. Equally cool is the Baby Yoda-green Andes Mint, chunky with candy. Looking for something special? Call ahead and ask if it’s on the big board of flavors. With notice, ice cream cakes can be customized, too.
Southlake Town Square, 1417 Main St., 817-251-1667, milwaukeejoesicecream.com
Cold Wave Creations
This owner-operated mom-and-pop shop in Keller, opened July 1 at the former location of Frios Gourmet Pops. That’s Craig Allen making the product on-site and serving customers; wife Diana helps out behind the scenes and steps up to scoop on weekends. Craig, who loves to cook, enjoyed restaurant experience early in his career but has spent the last 20 years as an EMT. Ready for less stress, he kept talking up the creative possibilities of artisanal ice cream. The couple attended Mystic Ice Cream Boot Camp in Fruitland, Florida, before taking the leap into the cold. Why ice cream? “It is something everyone loves,” Craig says. Diana adds, “We want to bring back the old-time feel of ice cream parlors with a modern twist.” Sit inside or outdoors to enjoy cups, cones, sundaes and banana splits filled with flavors that will shift by season and Craig’s whims. Current offerings include a sweet-and-tart Blueberry Lemon cream ice, creamier than a traditional Italian ice, and a Honey Vanilla ice cream with strong orange blossom notes from Madagascar honey. Chocolate Velvet is densely delicious. Dairy-free options include the tasty Totally Coconut. Feeling adventurous? Try the Dill Pickle Italian Ice. Everything is made in-house in small batches with no artificial additives.
242 Rufe Snow Drive, Keller, 817-662-7707, coldwavecreations.com