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.
The Ice Cream Social Bus, currently located on Rainey Street
Ice Cream Social's big thing is custom made sundaes. You can order your favorite hard-pack ice cream drowned in espresso, topped with toasted marshmallows, or accompanied by fried sweet plantains. Their selection of flavors changes regularly, so you can always be guaranteed to find something new and unique every time you visit. They are also super vegan-friendly, offering a rotating flavor or two to please those on plant-based diets. I don't make it down to Rainey Street as often as I'd like, so I'm hoping that they'll open a second truck sometime soon(preferably at the end of my street.) They are known to host up a pop-up sundae bar now and then too, so it's worth stalking Ice Cream Social's Facebook page on a regular basis.
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 _____? (Last known locations: Hope Farmer's Market, 6th and Waller)
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. My only gripe is that I am not smart enough to figure out where the hell it is half the time. My kingdom for a regularly updated address on their web site.
Images courtesy of Mike Galante
This post is 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.