Image courtesy of The Ice Cream Social - FYI, that's a grilled peach and a sprig of rosemary!
Psst. Have you heard? Crush-ins are so last season. The cool people are totally over them. Ice cream lovers in-the-know have developed a taste for frozen desserts with more unique characteristics. With the cupcake fad long dead, and a doughnut obsession well underway, will gourmet ice cream be the next national craze?
One can only hope.
So where can sweet-toothed Austinites get in on a scoop of upscale ice cream? There are actually a number of gourmet creameries vying for position as the town's top banana. Gourmet flavors, crazy sundaes, and overloaded waffle cones abound. Here are a few places to check out if you are ready to take a leisurely stroll on the wild side.
Cow Tipping Creamery, 26th and Rio Grande
This place has been open for some time now, and somehow, by some cruel, bizarre twist of fate I had not found out about it until just recently. My mind was totally blown when I visited for the first time earlier this week. First of all, you should know that Cow Tipping Creamery is a soft serve place. I know, right? Soft serve? Normally I would think, "big whoop", especially after hearing that they only keep two flavors available at any given time. There is, however, a really good explanation for the simplicity of the ice cream itself. Cow Tipping Creamery uses their simple (but unusually delicious) soft serve as a base for some of the most outrageous ice cream creations you will ever eat. They make milkshakes with cake, waffle cones with coffee soil, and sundaes with lemon curd and tea biscuits. Exotic ingredients like pomegranate sauce, champagne marshmallows and honey dust populate their expansive menu. It's really, truly, out of this world.
Lick, South Lamar
Lick is Austin's one and only brick and mortar gourmet ice cream shop. Their flavor combinations are really creative, and made with mostly local and organic ingredients. I love what they are doing, and I wish that I loved their ice cream. I really do, but I don't. Though I have a lot of respect for Lick's efforts, the texture of their dairy base just doesn't do it for me. I usually find it to be a bit greasy, and in some cases gritty. On the other hand, I've found that the vegan base at Lick is exceptional. The flavors, though limited in variety, are really delicious. Their vegan base is smooth, creamy, and satisfying, three things that aren't always found in dairy-free ice cream. All that being said, I know a lot of people who totally adore Lick's ice cream, so it's definitely worth checking out. If you aren't a big picky baby like me you will probably like it. They are still fairly new to the ice cream game too, so I'm hoping their dairy base will improve over time. Their imagination certainly gives them potential!
Sweet Ritual, 45th and Duval (Inside the Daily Juice building)
A little something for the vegans, Sweet Ritual dishes up handmade hard pack and soft serve ice cream in a bevvy of unique flavors. Visit their Facebook page to find out what they are currently serving. You are likely to find such enticing titles as lavender blueberry, peach pie, malted vanilla, and salted caramel. It's a real treat to find so many dairy-free flavors under one roof. The gals at Sweet Ritual will also happily transform their ice creams into shakes and sundaes.
Photo courtesy of Sweet Ritual.
Cool Haus, currently located at the Midway Trailer Food Court on 360
When it comes to smooth, creamy satisfaction, Cool Haus knocks it out of the park. These folks specialize in ice cream cookie sandwiches, one of man's greatest inventions. A rotating selection of cookies and scoop flavors allows you to create a different, custom cookie sandwich every time you stop by the truck. Their ice cream is plenty yummy, and when it is sandwiched between two freshly baked cookies there is a pretty much no way to resist it. I love that they give you a huge scoop of ice cream, the perfect proportion to match the size of their cookies. Also? Edible wrappers. Get the eff out. Cool Haus is the funnest place ever. This truck moves now and then, so be sure to confirm their current location before hunting them down.
Images courtesy of Mike Galante
Dolce Neve, South First and Annie Street
I'm currently on a fairly strict no-sugar diet, so I haven't been able to check this place out for myself, but I have heard nothing but praise for the newly opened Dolce Neve Ice Cream Parlor on South 1st. As soon as I'm cleared for ice cream again (presumably after I deliver a baby at the end of May) I'll be confirming the rumors myself. Until then, I would encourage you to check it out and let me know what you think.
The Ice Cream Social Bus, currently closed
The folks running Ice Cream Social recently announced that they will be closing down the truck permanently as they pursue retail distribution. I'll miss their sundaes, but am wishing them the best of luck. Visit the Ice Cream Social's Facebook page to find out more.
This post was part of The Austin Food Blogger Alliance's annual City Guide. For more awesome Austin info, check out the complete City Guide on the AFBA web site. Be sure not to miss my other City Guide post, The Best Little Beergaritas in Austin, Texas or my post from last year, How to Eat Mexican Breakfast in Austin, Texas.