The Best Ice Cream and (other desserts) around the USA

Earlier this year I spent a month driving around the USA and besides realizing how glad I am that I live in New York I also realized how many great ice cream places there are!

Liz- When I was a kid and adults would ask me what I wanted to be when I grow up the first thing that came to mind was Ice Cream Investigator, but I knew that wouldn’t have been received well so I hid who I truly was and named the perfunctory occupations that kids tend to say in these situations.
This past spring I realized I couldn’t wait for my life to be over, (cue the Dawson’s Creek theme song and first stop on our road trip) so I quit my job as a travel agent to hit the open road and find the greatest ice cream in the greatest country in the world.  As an ice cream investigator I may not be compensated with actual money but I’m expanding my mind and my person doing what I was put on this Earth to do.

Part of my best friend Liz and I’s plan was to eat our way across this great country and find the best ice cream. So without further ado here is a list of our favorite splurges along the way.

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BOOMBALATTIS- WILMINGTON NORTH CAROLINA

LIZ- Not a bad way to start our ice cream journey! One of my favorite things about Boombalatti’s was their ice cream sampler, if you have a tough time choosing and don’t *necessarily* want to eat a mountain of ice cream.  We ordered a sweet  mix of classic flavors and their own unique offerings and they did not disappoint.

PEACE PIE CHARLESTON SOUTH CAROLINA

Worth mentioning because it is certainly one of a kind. It is your favorite ice cream flavor meets a slice of pie! #theconeisdead.

LIZ-Peace Pie is such a cool concept it’s like an ice cream sandwich and pie a la mode had the cutest little dessert baby!

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LEOPOLDS- SAVANNAH GEORGIA

This place is famous and for good reason. They have the best hot fudge I ever tasted and I worked in an ice cream restaurant for nearly a decade, so I know fudge.

The wait can be long. It just might wrap around the block. It is well worth the effort.

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LOVELESS CAFE- NASHVILLE, TN

LIZ-I heard a rumor that other desserts exist besides ice cream and as a true investigator I had to do my research.  We made our way to the Loveless Cafe in Nashville and I tried to play it cool and not act like the ice cream traitor I was.  I got the Mini Chocolate Chess Pie and it was rich and chocolatey but, it was kind of like that guy you date cause you are bored, not terrible but you know deep down that your true (dessert) soulmate is out there waiting for you.

I ended up with banana pudding which just might be my second favorite dessert if I didn’t love pie so damn much. I have high expectations for banana pudding but it ended up being a worthy detour from ice cream for the night. In fact we drove way out of our way and made it just before close to grab these babies.

DONUTS EVERYWHERE -NEW ORLEANS LA

I already wrote about beignets and about District Donuts in my post about Nola but I will let Liz fill you in on her experience.

Anyone who knows me knows that ice cream is my favorite food group, my 6th favorite food group is: Doughnuts! In New Orleans, there were an abundance of these glorious creations in all shapes and sizes.

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DISTRICT DONUTS

I devoured their Dulce Cubano sandwich which is essentially a Cuban sandwich blasphemously and deliciously saddled between a grilled doughnut.

However, the main attraction in the Big Easy are the beignets which I bet a French person would argue is not  doughnut because something so spectacular cannot be categorized in such a ordinary way.

CAFE DU MONDE

The star of the show, it’s almost like the French Quarter was built around it.  I’m trying to remember what they taste like but the only thing I can recall was how happy I was eating them and making an absolute mess of all that powdered sugar.  I don’t know what that says about my person that a fried piece of dough can make me downright giddy, but what can I do about that now. The cafe is open 24/7 and I cannot object to that, when you make a treat that tastes that amazing it is your responsibility, nay your duty to be accessible any time of day or night.  My biggest regret was not objecting when Tianna suggested we get one order instead of two.

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We also made a pit stop on our way out of town at Cafe Beignet– the “Always a Bridesmaid” to Cafe du Monde’s Bride and their offering was solid for sure, but they will probably not be the thing you are itching to cross off your bucket list like Cafe du Monde.

 

THE ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE AUSTIN TEXAS

This place is actually a movie theater that serves food. Which are combines my two favorite activities : eating and watching movies. My hostel recommended the milkshakes there. We went to see Captain America Civil War. I got a peanut butter chocolate shake and it was THE best shake I’ve ever had. The movie was pretty good too ( TEAM IRON MAN)

LIZ -There are two things that I’m sure can turn most bad days around: some quality ice cream or a trip to the movies. At the Alamo Drafthouse  YOU CAN HAVE BOTH!  And barring a terminal disease or the death of a loved one I know this would improve your mood.  We got to see Captain America and Iron Man (FYI I’m totally Team Cap) square off while sipping on a Chocolate Chip Cookie shake, this cinematic experience ruined my expectations of a tasty shake and a trip to the movies.

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WANDERLUST CREAMERY- LA CALIFORNIA

This place combines my two favorite things : Ice cream and travel. All the flavors are inspired by different countries and use ingredients from said country. The menu is always changing due to the seasons and showcases different countries and flavors all the time.

LIZ- This was one of the first places I discovered while doing serious ice cream research for our Ultimate Road Trip and I don’t think I could have found something more fitting.

Where does a travel and ice cream junkie go for their next hit?  Their flavors are so unique and made me feel nostalgic for the places I’ve been and have yet to go.  I chose a flavor that was modeled after a typical breakfast in Spain.  The second best part of the experience was the obnoxious Mom that was complaining that they didn’t have vanilla for her crying kid at an artisan ice cream shop–step your Google search game up Lady.

THE WINNER IS…

BI RITE CREAMERY SAN FRANCISCO CA

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I may never be the same after eating that banana split. They caramelize their bananas for god sake! This was unanimous between the two of us that we have never had better ice cream.

The wait is also killer and wraps around the block but just like Leopold’s there is good reason and good reason to wait. A tiny store packs a huge punch. I am sad because I know I live so far and will not have it again for a long long time. But maybe that is a good thing, maybe you can only have so much perfection in a life time.

LIZ-As our ultra-hippie and awesome walking tour guide led us around the Mission district (shout out to Wild SF Tours!!) with a smile and a ukulele he mentioned making a stop at Bi-Rite Creamery and sited how serious they were about using the best ingredients and just how much goes into the craft of ice cream making.  The skeptic in me thought it sounded like some hipster nonsense, but now 4+ months later I’m prepared to eat crow.  Bi-Rite Creamery is the best ice cream I have ever had.  It changed how I see ice cream and I think it changed me as a person…to the core.  I had their Mint Chocolate Chip and Creme Brulee flavors and I’m overwhelmed by how good they were that I can’t find the right words to describe the experience.  Just go there, if you do nothing else with your life, make a trip to Bi-Rite Creamery.

HONORABLE MENTIONS GO TO :

Amy’s in Austin TX- I was told by locals that it is an institution

Sweet Rose Creamery in LA – Shout out to the amazingly nice staff.

Peterson’s in Phoenix AZ- forget ice cream sandwiches. Any place that has the fore thought to bake ice cream inside a donut deserves recognition.

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Do you have a favorite ice cream place where you live? Give me suggestions!

5 thoughts on “The Best Ice Cream and (other desserts) around the USA”

  1. I just gained five pounds reading this. But, seriously, what a wonderful, amazing write-up of – also my favorite food – your ice cream journey. I know your trip was as unique as you two are, and the memories will last a lifetime. Thanks for sharing.

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