Summer in Phoenix means a number of things – baseball, a respite from the classroom, higher electric bills. For some of us, though, endless months of desert heat are nothing more than a really great excuse to eat more ice cream. Toward that end, we’ve rounded up a list of local creameries old and new, so get busy with the excuse-making.
Ice Cream Sammies
135 West Boston Street, Chandler
Using just milk, sugar, and cream, this shop raises the bar on the traditional ice cream sandwich. For health nuts and food purists, there’s an added plus: the Sammies folks use no added anything – not even eggs – in their tasty ice creams, which are sandwiched between two warm, homemade cookies. Some made-to-order favorites include pumpkin spice ice cream slathered on a couple of sugar cookies, and the more elaborate combo of coconut ice cream crammed between two giant snickerdoodles.
16835 North 40th Street
The heck with cherry ice. This north Phoenix place jams more than 20 snow cone flavors onto an always-changing menu. Fan favorites include the Paradise Island (flavors of guava, mango, and coconut cream) and Tiger’s Blood (strawberry juice and coconut nectar). Each can be topped with sweet cream to create a snow cone-ice cream hybrid.
2520 North 16th Street
Mexican ice cream is trendy as anything right now, and the menu here – which includes raspados (shaved ice) and homemade paletas (an icy fruit drink) can be spiced up with ingredients like lime-infused mango chili. Try the overflowing coconut raspado topped with pina colada ice cream, one of several house specialties.
Cafe ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho
6850 East Main Street, Scottsdale
There are many ways to enjoy ice cream, and one of those ways is as a milkshake. Cafe ZuZu's Show Stopper is a stunning ever-changing creation that you’ll stand in line for. Depending on the time of year, this frosty treat has been known to combine peaches and cream or chocolate and mint. And the Show Stopper to end all Show Stoppers? Something called the Banana Cream Pie. These aren’t just ice cream shakes; they’re an institution — each of them served with an edible straw.
Nomadic Ice Cream Rolls
5750 West Glendale Avenue, Glendale
This isn’t just ice cream – this is ice cream as performance art. While you watch, ice cream chef Nino McCurley pours, chops, and shapes custom ice cream flavors into four large rolls that will, once you’ve relocated it to your mouth, make your day. McCurley blends and chops a pile of your favorite toppings, so that every sweet, cold bite is full of flavor.
MacAlpine's Soda Fountain
2302 North Seventh Street
MacAlpine's has been around since 1928, and while the shop doesn't make its own ice cream, it goes one better: MacAlpine’s serves Thrifty ice cream, that holy grail of ice cream connoisseurs. Malts and sodas are this mainstay’s specialty, and happy diners can choose from summer fruit flavors like wild cherry and watermelon. Feeling brave? Check out the Nutty Professor, made with amaretto soda and pistachio ice cream.
Snoh Ice Shavery
801 North Second Street
914 East Camelback Road, #4B
Snoh serves a southern Chinese-style shaved ice known in its homeland as BaoBing. Ingredients like Lychee and tea extracts are used to make the "ice," which is a cross between shaved ice and ice cream. This yummy mixture is then flash-frozen to create a velvety, snow-like texture. Try unique combinations such as Mountain of Dew, featuring honeydew-flavored snoh topped with cinnamon toast crunch, mochi balls, and caramel.
100 East Camelback Road, #150
And other Valley locations
Creamistry uses liquid nitrogen to flash-freeze its ice cream, a trick that gives it a smoother taste. Diners start with a base flavor: milk; organic milk; water-based sorbet; or a non-dairy coconut base that’s vegan and gluten-free. Add to that flavorings that range from the deliciously ordinary (chocolate) to the outrageous (French Toast Crunch).
6054 North 16th Street
9160 East Shea Boulevard, #105, Scottsdale
These guys have been serving ice cream for a decade now, and all along everything they offer has been homemade – even the stuff that flavors their ice creams, like the marshmallows and the slow-stirred caramel. Check out flavors like Strawberry Buttermilk, White Roses, and Peaberry Espresso. Or throw caution to the wind and try all three on a handmade cone.
333 East Roosevelt Street
Melt is not for ice cream lovers whose palates stop at chocolate and vanilla. For those willing to try original creations like Matcha Nutella, Green Tea, or Cap’n Crunch in a leftover cereal milk base, this is the place for you. Don’t see what you want? Owner Pablo Sapien is open to new flavor suggestions from walk-in customers.
1575 East Camelback Road
The house specialty here is ice cream rolls buried in mounds of fresh toppings. The Hulk, for example, offers a strawberry and green tea ice cream base, topped with graham crackers, Oreos, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream. Nutella lovers will want to sample the Crazy Monkey, made with a banana, Nutella, and strawberry crush, then topped with fresh berries and whipped cream.
The Sugar Bowl
4005 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
The Sugar Bowl has 60 years of ice cream experience to its name. The ultimate east valley neighborhood ice cream shop opened in 1958 and hasn't stopped scooping since. Standard favorites celebrating their 60th birthday include the Camelback Soda, an old-fashioned soda pop confection buried in your favorite ice cream flavor and drowned in soda water. Another oldie-but-goodie: the Super Soda, smothered in marshmallow, caramel, or hot fudge sauce.
8977 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Travel to Italy without leaving Arizona. Led by Pomo Pizzeria’s Stefano Fabbri, this place offers up a traditional Italian vibe. Try the Sicilian pistachio or the Italian stracciatella made with a milk base and chocolate shavings. Luna uses high-end Frigomat GX8 batch freezers that churn gelato while you watch, resulting in a smoother, warmer gelato. Bravo.
5223 North Central Avenue
There’s a reason there’s always a line snaking out of Churn’s front door, even on weeknights. The young, friendly staff will help you make your own creations with ice cream flavors like strawberry, peaches and honey, and eggnog, then top ’em with an array of candy and nut toppings. Sundaes fans will want to check out the Kitchen Sink (peanut butter ice cream, bananas, a salted caramel drizzle, whipped cream, and chocolate chunks), and no one should leave this place without trying the sweet and salty combination of a scoop of ice cream trapped in one of Churn's handmade pretzel cones.
Novel Ice Cream
1028 Grand Avenue, #6
Ice cream chef Brandon Douglas travels the world looking to be inspired by unique flavors. His Fat Elvis pays tribute to the King of Rock and Roll with peanut butter, banana, and bacon, all dumped into one big ice cream bowl. All Douglas’s homemade ice creams can be had in traditional cones or cups, but he’s also happy to plop your treat on top of a homemade doughnut or waffle.
11122 West Alabama Avenue, Youngtown
Mighty Moo looks like a traditional neighborhood ice cream parlor, but it offers not-so-traditional flavors. Don’t believe us? Check out house specialty the Frankenstein, made with five layers of whatever flavors Moo counter help has left over. Don’t see what you want? No problem. Mighty Moo can make a custom flavor in just a few hours.
Scoop and Joy Lounge
9397 East Shea Boulevard #110, Scottsdale
This is the place you’ll find flavors like guava cheesecake, pink salted caramel, and coconut pineapple. You’ll also discover made-to-order cookie, brownie and doughnut ice cream sandwiches. Not enough fun? How about this: Scoop and Joy’s master chefs shape their ice cream into piglets, snowmen, and other fun critters.
2014 North Seventh Street
Health-conscious people head here for delicious vegan-friendly soy ice cream creations known as tSoynamis. They’re sort of a Dairy Queen Blizzard, but vegan-friendly and created with healthy ingredients like cane sugar, soy and coconut milk. Regulars know they can customize their dessert with as many homemade fillings as they want, or just head straight for a menu item like the popular Banana Cream Pie, made with fresh bananas and vanilla wafers mixed into a vegan-based soft serve that’s topped with homemade whipped cream.