Is there any symbol of summer more potent than ice cream? Just one taste of the blessed substance has the power to vanquish the heat and bring back pleasant childhood memories. But for those who abstain from dairy for reasons of health or ethics, it can be a little trickier to satisfy that craving (no, ice pops don’t count). Luckily, we live in New York City, land of specialty foods, where you can find stores devoted to every dietary restriction. Here are five of the best spots in NYC to hit up for a scoop of frozen, non-dairy magic this summer.
Our personal favorite for some years now, this cute little hole-in-the-wall serves up delightful dairy-free ice cream and soft serve in surroundings reminiscent of an old timey soda shop. Its ice cream is made from various types of bases (soy, coconut, cashew) to accommodate everyone’s unique allergies and preferences. House-made vegan toppings like whipped cream(!) and hot fudge(!!!) kick things up a notch; spring for a banana split or brownie sundae if you’re feeling decadent. 516 E. 6th St., 646-481-5852, lulassweetapothecary.com
Scoops and Plates Eatery
Think animal-free food is the sole domain of privileged white people? Think again! The Rastafarian religion has a proud tradition of “Ital” (meatless) cuisine stretching back centuries which is rooted in a philosophy of non-violence. One of several such joints in the heavily Caribbean neighborhood of Flatbush, Scoops offers a healthy selection of ice creams alongside actually healthy dishes like veggie patties, rice and peas, and okra. Ital is vital! 624 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, 718-282-5904, facebook.com/ScoopsandPlates
Anyone nostalgic for the push-up ice cream pops of their youth — you know, the orange kind with Fred Flintstone on the box? — will be happy to learn there’s now an artisanal version of them, which come in grown-up flavors like dark chocolate chai and salted peanut. Utilizing various types of nuts (almond, coconut, hazelnut), these lactose-intolerant alchemists create said push-pops as well as ice cream sandwiches and toppings for scoops. You can find this roving dessert stand at Smorgasburg, Governors Island and elsewhere (check the website). Multiple locations, no phone, alchemycreamery.com
The Ice Cream House
Long before Bed-Stuy was a hot neighborhood for real estate, The Ice Cream House was serving up non-dairy (and dairy, and sugar-free, and gluten-free) desserts to Hasidic communities in Bed-Stuy, Flatbush and Boro Park. In addition to scoops of Klein’s Kosher ice cream, these colorful parlors offer custom-made ice cream cakes, petit-fours and other festive confections. Dress modestly and cover your tattoos if you don’t want to be stared at. Multiple locations, Brooklyn, theicecreamhouse.com
While not strictly vegan, this popular gourmet ice cream shop has several different flavors of non-dairy frozen dessert to choose from; rotating selections include (a very sweet) chocolate, vanilla and sticky black rice. Unfortunately, there are few vegan toppings, but what it lacks in toppings it makes up in ubiquity. From trucks to restaurants (Waffle and Wolf, Paulie Gee’s) to actual locations, Van Leeuwen is everywhere. A good place to go with your staunchly lactose-loving friends. Multiple locations, vanleeuwenicecream.com
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