There are so many good ice cream shops in New York and it’s hard to write about them all. This guide highlights the best ice cream shops in Lower Manhattan, including some of the most instagrammable ice cream in NYC.
Ice cream is never a bad idea. At least that’s the motto I live by every summer and winter (yes you eat a lot of ice cream in the winter in New York City too). I’m not a huge fan of sweets but ice cream is one thing I do love. The good news is that there are so many good and instagrammable ice cream in NYC and even if you stay here the entire summer, you still wouldn’t be able to taste them all. I didn’t think it would do justice to some of the best ice cream shops in Lower Manhattan if I only wrote about the most instagrammable ice cream in NYC because some places are VERY delicious but not “instagram worthy”.
Best Ice Cream Shops in the East Village
East Village is the home to New York University and Cooper Union and the area is known for its vibrant nightlife, cool restaurants, bars and young vibes. East Village is the area east of 4th Avenue between 14th street and Houston. There are a lot of college kids as well as working professionals here so the vibe is always lively. Some of my favorite ice cream shops are located in the East Village. During the summer there is always a line out of the door at these ice cream shops.
Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
Address: 48.5 East 7th St, New York, NY 10003
Van Leeuwen started in the spring of 2008 in Brooklyn and now has several locations in New York City. They have a ice cream truck sometimes parked outside of NYU as well as commercially packaged ice cream at super markets. Since they are so successful they are opening up more stores in New York City, such as Soho, Nolita, Upper East Side, etc. They also have a themed treat at each of their newer locations. Van Leeuwen in the East Village is quite spacious and they offer all the traditional flavors as well as vegan flavors, milkshakes and sundaes.
Momofuku Milk Bar
Address: 251 E. 13th Street, New York
The Momofuku Milk Bar is a chain dessert place under David Chang’s Momofuku restaurant group and founder chef Christina Tosi. Most people know Milk Bar for the iconic soft serve in a cup and it’s consistently one of the most instagrammable ice cream in NYC. However the Milk Bar is more than just an ice cream shop, it’s actually a bakery that makes custom wedding cakes and other baked goods. There are also multiple locations of the Milk Bar in New York but the original one is in the East Village, right across from the other Momofuku restaurants. You should definitely eat at the other Momofuku restaurants then stop by the Milk Bar for their dessert. Personally I find the soft serve at Milk Bar a little too sweet for me, but some people do like the taste of cereal milk.
Some of the most famous desserts at the Milk Bar is the ice cream as well as the crack pie. However the crack pie is extremely sweet so if you don’t like sweets then the crack pie may not be the best choice.
Big Gay Ice Cream
Address: 127 E. 7th Street, New York
Big Gay Ice Cream started off as an ice cream truck in 2009 and opened its first ice cream shop in the East Village in 2012. Big Gay Ice Cream serves traditional flavors but they are particularly famous for their rainbow sprinkles and Salty Pimps. It’s not a particularly instagram worthy spot but if you love traditional American flavors, Big Gay Ice Cream is one of the best ice cream shops in lower Manhattan for you.
Sundaes and Cones
Address: 95 E. 10th St. New York
Sundaes and Cones was founded in Brooklyn in 1991; in May 2006 they opened their first Manhattan store in the East Village. What differentiates Sundaes and Cones from other ice cream shops is that Sundaes and Cones have an Asian inspired flavors along with the traditional ice cream flavors and unique random flavors such as honey ginger. I am a huge fan of anything Asian so I simply could not resist trying out all the different flavors at Sundaes and Cones. In addition to ice cream, Sundaes and Cones also serve ice cream cake!
Davey’s Ice Cream
Address: 137 1st Ave. New York
Davey’s Ice Cream owned by David Yoo offers classic American ice cream flavor that you grew up with as a kid. If you want some fancy or unique flavors, this ice cream may not be the place. But if you crave the classic strawberry, mint chip, vanilla, etc then you should come to Davey’s Ice cream. The most popular flavor at Davey’s Ice Cream is the cookies n’ cream. They also offer many seasonal flavors as well as cakes (wedding cakes, birthday cakes, etc) (and they cater)!
Address: 198 East 11th Street, New York
Martina is not an ice cream shop; it’s a Roman inspired pizzeria located in the East Village. However, I like their soft serve ice cream more than their pizza (their pizza is pretty good by the way). Martina offers a soft serve Gelato and affogato. I used to go to Martina just for their ice cream and the soft serve is so creamy and delicious.
Address: 241 E. 10th St. New York
Snowdays is not a traditional ice cream shop; it’s a Taiwanese/Korean style shaved ice. Unlike traditional shaved ice, Snow Days’ shaved ice give you a soft and fluffy texture, hence the name. Asian shaved ice places have popped up all over the US in recent years and I’m glad they’ve come to New York City!
Snowdays first opened in the East Village (wonder what it is that so many ice cream shops are in the East Village) but quickly expanded to the West Village, Brooklyn and Forest Hills in Queens). It has expansion plans in Los Angeles and Bay Side (Long Island, NY).
You can order from the combos they offer or you can make your own with many interesting flavors to choose from, such as Yetti Tracks, Mint Oreo as well as more “standard” flavors such as Coconut, Matcha Green team, chocolate and strawberry. Snowdays also offer some vegan flavors to accommodate people with dietary restrictions. After you choose your base (the snow part), you can choose from many different toppings. Even though Snowdays is not technically an ice cream shop, it is still one of my favorite places to visit to get frozen dessert.
Other Instagrammable Ice Cream Shops in the East Village
ChikaLicious Dessert Club
Address: 204 E. 10th St. New York
ChickaLicious has a Dessert Bar and a Dessert Club, located across the street from each other in the East Village. ChickaLicious Dessert Bar is a high end dessert place that serves a 3 course Prix Fixe Menu of desserts described as “an American dessert, French presentation, and Japanese tasting portions” for $18. The restaurant only seats 20 on the counter and it’s a long wait to get a seat on the weekends.
ChickaLicious Dessert Club across the street is a casual small dessert shop that offers different types of pastries, cakes and ice cream. Their most instagrammable ice cream is known as the “ConeChurro“, basically soft serve ice cream in a churro cone with different toppings and different ice cream flavors. It’s actually big enough for two people to share (which is what I did before).
Address: 116 E 7th Street, New York
Mochii is a new comer in the East Village ice cream and dessert scene. Again it’s not a typical ice cream shop but rather a dessert featuring mochi and mochi ice cream. I am a huge fan of Japanese desserts and I can never resist mochi ice cream (did you know that Whole foods sell mochi ice cream too?!?! I was SO happy when I found out). But anyway, if you are a big mochi ice cream fan like me, then you should check out this cute little shop.
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Stuffed Ice Cream
Address: 139 First Ave, New York
Cookie ice cream sandwiches are no longer enough that people are going for donut ice cream sandwiches (Cruff) now. Besides the donut ice cream sandwich, I am so impressed how so many ice cream scoops can fit on one cone. You can sample as much as you want at Stuffed Ice Cream before deciding what you want to order.
Best Ice Cream Shops in the West Village
The West Village is one of the cutest and most instagrammable neighborhoods in Manhattan. It’s on the west side of Manhattan, between 14th street and Christopher Street. It borders the Hudson Valley on the west and Greenwich Avenue to the East. You can walk from the East Village to the West Village in 20 minutes. The West Village is home to many great restaurants and bars such as Minetta Tavern, L’Artusi, the Jane Hotel, Sushi Nakazawa, etc. There are many cute brunch places in the West Village as well. The ice cream shops in the West Village also do not disappoint! Many of the ice cream shops in the East Village also have a store in the west village such as Van Leeuwen and Snowdays.
Address: 233 Bleecker St, New York
Grom is an artisan Gelato chain that first opened in the Upper West Side in New York City. It originally started in Italy with many locations all over the world. This ice cream shop’s mission is to make gelato the exact, old fashion way using the finest ingredients. Grom also offers shakes, ice pops and sorbet for those who want something a little lighter and the sorbet is really smooth! Small size is $5.5 and you get two scoops, which is actually a lot. Grom gets really crowded in the summer but it’s definitely worth trying.
Address: 5 Carmine St, New York
Popbar is perhaps one of the cutest and most instagrammable ice cream in NYC. Simply put, Popbar brings the best ingredients together to make gelato on a stick. The gelato at Popbar are gluten free and some popbars are vegan. Apparently gelato is different from ice cream in that geltao uses more milk than cream and less air to bring out the flavors more.
Popbar offers many flavors as well as combination of flavors in one popbar. You can also choose the toppings to go with your PopGelato. PopBar also comes in both the standard size and a mini size.
Best Ice Cream Shops on the Lower East Side
The Lower East Side (LES) of Manhattan traditionally has been an immigrant and working-class neighborhood. Due to gentrification, LES has now become one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Manhattan. LES is the most southeast corner of Manhattan (South of the East Village, north of Chinatown, and east of Nolita (North of Little Italy).
The Lower East Side is a food lover’s heaven. Many trendy restaurants and bars are on the Lower East Side as well as some of the best ice cream shops in Lower Manhattan. Good news for you if you are staying near Lower East Side because most of the most instagrammable ice cream in NYC are in the Lower East Side.
If you happen to be walking around the Lower East Side on a weekend, you will notice that all the restaurants and bars are packed. There is also a big party scene on the Lower East Side. You literally do not need to leave the Lower East Side to enjoy your time in New York City.
Il Laboratorio del Gelato
Address: 188 Ludlow St, New York
Il Laboratorio del Gelato, as its name implies, is a Gelato lab. First opened in 2002, Il Laboratorio del Gelato now has 2 stores in Lower Manhattan (LES and Greenwich Village). I don’t know any ice cream shops in Lower Manhattan (or the entire New York City) that has more flavors than Il Laboratorio del Gelato. It has over 300 flavors which can be very overwhelming but it also means you can keep going back to try more flavors. Even though it’s not the most instagrammable ice cream in New York City, it definitely is one of the most innovative and tastiest and one of my personal favorites.
Address: 85B Allen St, New York
Soft Swerve is a soft serve (hence the name) ice cream shop in the Lower Manhattan. I have to admit that the only reason I went to try Soft Swerve is because of its cute purple ice cream: Ube flavor with a black chocolate cone. However I am happy to report that the hype is real and it’s indeed one of the best ice cream shops in lower Manhattan.
Soft Swerve serves many Japanese inspired flavors such as Matcha, Black Sesame and its famous Ube (purple yam) flavor. You can also combine two flavors into one swerve. Most people choose either the black chocolate cone or the red velvet zone although some do get a cup with their ice cream. There are also a lot of colorful toppings you can get at Soft Swerve but I recommend keeping it simple.
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Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
Address: 2 Rivington St, New York
Unlike its Italian peers, Morgenstern focuses on creating and refining the American ice cream flavors. First opened in 2014, Morgenstern focuses on the flavor profile first while making its ice cream.
Morgenstern has 5 types of Vanilla flavors, 5 types of chocolate flavors as well as many unique flavors such as the black coconut ash and banana curry flavor.
Morgenstern is not the cheapest ice cream shop in Lower Manhattan but it’s worth trying their unique flavors!
Ice & Vice
Address: 221 East Broadway, New York
Ice & Vice is one of those super instagrammable ice cream in NYC that you will eventually end up at. I simply could not resist trying and I’m happy to say I was not disappointed. Not only is the ice cream delicious at Ice & Vice, but all the marshmallows and the ice cream sandwich are seriously too cute to be eaten. You probably should bring back up with you when visiting Ice & Vice so you can try both their ice cream with marshmallow as well as their mega cute ice cream sandwich.
If you are too lazy to visit the ice cream shop in Lower Manhattan, you can sometimes find Ice & Vice at Madison Square Eats (outdoor food market) in May in front of the Flatiron building.
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Other Instagrammable Ice Cream Shops on the Lower East Side
There are just too many new and instagrammable ice cream shops on the Lower East Side nowadays and it’s getting harder to keep up. It seems like new places seem to pop up every other week. So i’m going to just mention a few really cute ice cream shops
Address: 190 Orchard Street, New York
Unlimited topping on your ice cream there!
I personally find the ice cream at New Territories way too sweet and couldn’t eat more than 3 bites.
Stax Ice Cream
Address: 279 Grand St, New York
Similar to Stuffed Ice Cream in the East Village, Stax Ice Cream also offers ice cream donut sandwich (i’ts called a Cremellas). Best of both worlds right? I don’t know who wins the most instgrammable ice cream in NYC contest but Stax Ice Cream is definitely going to be up there!
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Best Ice Cream Shops in Nolita & Little Italy
After reading this post you will probably agree with me that Nolita and Little Italy should be named as Little Japan instead for all the Japanese places here (just kidding!). I keep discovering new Japanese inspired ice cream and dessert places in New York when I come to this area.
Address: 119 Baxter St, New York
Have you ever seen the Japanese fish shaped dessert that’s filled with red bean or custard? Well that’s taiyaki and if you haven’t tried it you should because it’s super delicious. Taiyaki ice cream takes the concept of Taiyaki and add soft serve ice cream to it.
You get the soft served ice cream (green tea and/or black sesame ice cream) followed by either wafer stick or mini mochi rice cake on top of a waffle cone shaped like a fish filled with either red bean paste or custard filling. It looks and tastes amazing!
There is usually a long line outside of Taiyaki but i assure you the wait is worth it. With all the best things stacked into one waffle cone, it is no wonder this is one of the most popular and instagrammable ice cream in NYC.
Cha Cha Matcha
Address: 373 Broome St. New York
Cha Cha Matcha is one of those places that everyone in New York knows about and has been at least once. Even in the winter Cha Cha Matcha is packed and in the summer the line is outside of the door.
Cha Cha Matcha is technically not an ice cream place but a Matcha (Japanese green tea) cafe. They have all sorts of Matcha drinks that come at a hefty price tag. But the matcha they use is high quality and rather bitter and strong. This is when you pair the bitter matcha drinks with the sweet matcha soft serve ice cream.
Matcha n’ More
Address: 177 Hester St. New York
All great Japanese inspired dessert and ice cream shops come to New York City and it is no wonder that I keep gaining weight living in New York. Similar to its neighbor Cha Cha Matcha, Matcha n’ More serves Matcha drinks, baked goods and ice cream.
Unlike Cha Cha Matcha, Matcha n’ More has one of two more ice cream flavors. They have a really pretty half green tea half strawberry soft serve on a colorful waffle cone as well as the famous 24K gold soft serve ice cream ($9).
Best Ice Cream Shops in Chinatown New York City
Chinatown has become a trendy neighborhood in recent years. More and more cute cafes, restaurants and ice cream shops are moving in. Every time I go to Chinatown there seems to be a new restaurant or store popping up. There are also numerous dessert places and cafes now such as Keki Modern Cakes, Sweet Moment, the Little One, etc. But for now, I’ll focus on the ice cream shops in Chinatown.
The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
Address: 65 Bayard St, New York
The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is pretty much a landmark in New York Chinatown (if it’s not, it should be!). It’s one of the oldest business in Chinatown that is still around today.
The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory opened its door in the heart of Chinatown in 1978 and has attracted numerous domestic and international tourists such as myself. It has so many different flavors both traditional and non conventional such as fresh green avocado, ginger and peach, etc. It may not be the most instagrammable ice cream in NYC but it certainly is one with a long standing history.
10Below Ice Cream
Address: 10 Mott St, New York
10Below Ice Cream is the original rolled ice cream in New York City. It’s inspired by Thai street food where vendors make fresh to order ice cream. When 10Below Ice Cream first opened in Chinatown, there was line out of the door everyday even during the winter. The concept was truly different than what New York had at the time.
The vendor first pours a liquid mix of sweet milk/cream onto a cold steel surface and use metal spatulas to chop the toppings into the base and scrape it around to create air. Once the liquid is frozen solid, the vendor then spread the ice cream thinly and scrape at it to create rolls. All of this can be done in about 2 minutes.
After 10Below’s overnight popularity, more and more similar rolled ice cream opened up all over New York City but I still prefer the original one. 10Below Ice Cream has since opened a few new stores on the Lower East Side, Queens and Los Angeles.
Address: 60 Mulberry St, New York
If you are familiar with Hong Kong street food then you would recognize the egg waffles in the Eggloo ice cream. If you are not familiar with it, the egg waffles is basically a sweet egg based batter baked in a special mold to create the little “bubbles”. After the waffle is baked, you can easily break off the little bubble and eat them one by one.
The owner of Eggloo had the genius idea of combining the Egg Waffles with ice cream (either soft serve or traditional ice cream) and toppings so you can get a delicious and instagrammable ice cream (at a not so cheap price).
There are 3 flavors of egg waffle you can choose from: original, green tea and chocolate. There are 8 different ice cream flavors and 3 soft serve flavors but they are continuing to add more flavors such as the blue one below. Eggloo also sell cookies and milk tea.
Address: 309 E Houston St, New York
If you like Eggloo then you will probably also like Wowfulls since they are pretty much the same! However you can find Wowfulls at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn during the summer also and that’s actually how I found out about them in the first place. The line to get Wowfulls at Smorgasburg is really long.
Wowfulls is actually located on the Lower East side. I only put it under Eggloo for comparison purposes. Wowfulls also offer catering services to your events/wedding, etc.
Final Thoughts on the Best Ice Cream Shops in Lower Manhattan
There is no way to rank the “best” ice cream or the most instagrammable ice cream in NYC because each ice cream shop is unique and good in its own ways. I mean how can ice cream be bad??
My personal favorite ice cream shops in Lower Manhattan is Van Leeuwen in the East Village followed by the ice cream at Martina (the Pizza Place) and il laboratorio del gelato. I also really like Soft Swerve on the Lower East Side because it was the first time I had the Ube (Japanese yam) flavored ice cream and I loved it even though it’s really too big to be eaten by one person!
You are probably already overwhelmed by all the options above but I just want to throw in a few other honorable mentions: OddFellows Ice Cream, macha soft serve from Cafe Zaya, Mikey Likes It Ice Cream, I CE NY, Cones, etc. It is pretty amazing how many different things you can pair with your ice cream nowadays, such as donuts, egg waffles, churro, marshmallow, etc.
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