Ice Cream is quickly becoming the “go to” treat in the District, and for good reason! It is the ultimate All-American dessert and there is nothing like a sticky cone or scoop to cool you down on a hot, humid day. This list has you covered for the best ice cream in Washington DC.
8. Ice Cream Jubilee
We love a shop with a good story and Ice cream Jubilee is exactly that. The founder, Victoria Lai, would use her spare time on weekends to invent ice cream flavor combinations in her apartment while she was working at the Department of Homeland Security. After following her true passion of creating ice cream, Ice Cream Jubilee was born and now has three locations in DC and several pop up shops in surrounding areas. Come here for fun and different flavors and great dairy free options. Be sure to get the Snickers Snickerdoodle and Cookies and Cookie Dough ice cream. On a whim before leaving, we tried the dairy free Passionfruit Guava Sorbet and oh man were we bummed we didn’t try it first! So fresh and delicious. We love a good thin and crispy waffle cone, and here you can get it in regular, chocolate or a mixed batter. Of course, we had to try the mix, and watched it be made fresh right in front of us. It was amazing!
7. Goodies Frozen Custard and Treats
Does custard count as ice cream? We say YES! The custard from Goodies is so amazing we couldn’t leave it off our list of best ice cream in Washington DC! Goodies is extremely Instagram-able with its 60’s themed food truck that travels all around the District, they also have a location in the basement of the USDA building right on the National Mall. Yes, you have to go through security to get in, but it’s worth it! We hit the jackpot ordering the Big Apple Donutwich. It’s a cinnamon sugar topped apple cider donut (a DC/Virginia favorite!) stuffed with their vanilla-bean custard, drizzled with salted caramel! Need we say more? This custard is thick and decadent, but balanced out perfectly with the salty taste from the caramel! It might be the oldies music playing from the truck, but something about this treat just feels old fashioned and special. Grab a friend when you head to Goodies because the donutwich is definitely big enough to share!
6. Bon Matcha
Bon Matcha is a trendy little window counter downtown with a small menu of soft serve matcha ice cream as well as lattes and other specialty matcha drinks. Matcha is a form of green tea from Japan that has a sweet but earthy flavor. The taste is very unique and different and that’s what we liked about it! Be sure to get the ice cream swirled with their seasonal Sakura (cherry blossom) soft serve. It evens out the tea flavor with something fruity and a bit lighter. If you’re looking for ice cream that is different or out of the box, this is a perfect authentic treat. It doesn’t get much more DC than Japanese cherry blossom ice cream!
5. Presidential Scoops
When you’re in the more touristy part of town, don’t settle for the mediocre soft serve from a nameless food truck. Presidential Scoops is brand new and right off the National Mall and near the White House and easily some of the best ice cream in Washington DC. Everything in this cute shop with the pun-y slogan, Making America Sweet Again, screams DC, with ice cream flavors like “JFK’s America’s Birthday Cake” and “Obama’s Strawberry Jubilee.” Presidential Scoops uses Bassets Ice Cream, a mom and pop shop started in 1861 in Philadelphia that you can only find in a few select states. Bassets was a favorite of many past Presidents, so it makes the shop even more authentic with the Presidential theme. Our favorite flavors were Reagan’s Raspberry Truffle, and Lincoln’s Decadent Salted Caramel Pretzel. Top it off with some red, white and blue sprinkles and you’ve got yourself a true Presidential treat.
4. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
Plan to find a line out the door, but the smell of freshly made waffle cones will hold you over as you wait for this extremely popular U Street spot. Even though Jeni’s isn’t native to DC, it could pass as a local shop. With the friendly service and unique homemade ice cream flavors, it had to be on our list of best ice cream in Washington DC. Don’t let the flavor combinations at Jeni’s scare you off. Goat Cheese and Red Cherries sounds funky, but is a surprisingly amazing combination! If you are a two scoop kind of person, our favorite picks were Wildberry Lavender and Brown Butter Almond Brittle on a waffle cone. The Wildberry Lavender was by far the fan favorite, it was bursting with tart berry flavor and has the most subtle hint of lavender, while still being a creamy a true ice cream. We highly recommend.
3. Pitango Gelato
There are a few cute gelato places in the District, but none are as authentic or delicious as Pitango, so we had to include it on our list of the best ice cream in Washington DC. Pitango’s fresh everyday gelato made from ingredients imported from Italy is what sets them apart and you can taste the difference! We were lucky enough to come in as a fresh batch of Hazelnut Gelato was being brought out, and the sample taste we had was actually life-changing. After many more tastes and an embarrassing amount of time deliberating, we settled on the Local Raspberry. I can’t express to you how much flavor is in this gelato. It was so tart and refreshing, perfect for a Spring day. The Hazelnut, Dark Chocolate, and Bacio were also top contenders! There are tons of great dairy-free options here too (surprisingly including the dark chocolate!).
2.Captain Cookie and the Milk Man
This Food Truck is 100% worth stopping at. Homemade cookies and amazing fresh ice cream? Count us in. There are multiple trucks throughout the city and you can check daily locations on their website. The ice cream at Captain Cookie is from Trickling Springs Creamery and is why it lands as #2 on our best ice cream in Washington DC list. This is some of the most rich and delicious ice cream you will ever have. Their butter pecan ice cream is one of the most popular flavors and our favorite. Sandwich it between a funfetti sugar cookie and double chocolate cookie… starting to drool thinking about it. The cookies are phenomenal and send this ice cream truck over the top.
Thomas Sweet has something for everyone and is easily #1 on our list for the best ice cream in Washington DC. The menu in this old time, mom and pop feeling shop, is huge! It has blend-in options, endless toppings (Kit-Kats, Oreos, cookie dough, gummy bears you name it!) and even homemade fudge. This is the place to get your decadent, over the top ice dessert. Our favorite? The chocolate fudge brownie ice cream, stacked on a scoop of Oreo, inside a sprinkle dipped cone with Kit-Kats on top. Thomas Sweet is located in Georgetown, which has some of the best restaurants and shopping in the city, so be sure to put it at the top of your list!