It’s warming up and our thoughts immediately turn to ice cream. And you know when the screaming for ice cream begins – from little kids and big ones alike – you’d better make it happen. So here it is: the ultimate guide to the city’s locally-made frozen treats.
BC’s organic dairy farm since 1906, Avalon Dairy has built generations of locals who love their ice cream. Visit their retail shop in Burnaby or find them in markets across the province.
One of the first to ignite the popular new wave of artisanal ice cream shops, Earnest Ice Cream and its signature flavours like London Fog and Whisky Hazelnut are now household names. Enviro-conscious glass jar pints (return for $1 back) keep ’em coming back better than any bottle depot. Their two brick & mortar locations (Olympic Village and Fraserhood) are full-service, but you can also grab a quick pint from local shops such as Marche St George, Mighty Oak or Cartems Donuts).
Regulars at Rain or Shine Ice Cream will likely have tried it all here – Ice Cream Taco Tuesdays, a feature sundae, or the brilliant flight of four flavours. Expect daily queues to match that of Earnest’s scoop for scoop. Two locations: head to West 4th to chill on the parklet out front or take it down to the beach, or go for a stroll after dins on Cambie Street.
Three young friends who set out to make good and do good (partial proceeds go to a charity) are waiting for you in the long commuter stretch of East Broadway – go see them at Rooster’s Ice Cream Bar for flavours that lean toward modern fusions like avocado lime vodka and black sesame & honey. We also spotted a donut ice cream sammie on the menu.
Over in Arbutus Ridge, the most buzzed about features at Tangram Creamery include their golden cookie-like cone and delicate flavors like amazake (non-alcoholic sweet sake) or hoji cha (roasted green tea).
If you want to venture outside of Metro Vancouver, head over to family-run Rocky Point Ice Cream in Port Moody – they handcraft small batch artisan ice cream using local ingredients.
Amato Gelato, the retail shop of multi-generational local wholesaler Mario’s Gelati, shows no sign of slowing down as the foot traffic grows around its longtime neighborhood (Olympic Village).
The lineups that snake around Bella Gelateria are warranted; gelato maestro James Coleridge’s creations have won ‘best gelato in the world’ at the Florence Gelato Festival in Italy. Two locations.
Family-run spot Dolce Amore Gelateria has just the right vibes for its casual digs on the Drive.
La Casa Gelato has been a legendary spot for over three decades with locals and tourists (even Martha Stewart has visited), and offers 200+ flavours at all times, from plain vanilla to wild ones like seaweed or garlic.
We’ve heard through the Reddit lines that Matteo’s Gelato is the spot for a scoop in Port Coquitlam if you’re out that way.
On a recent jaunt in White Rock, we walked past about a dozen ice cream shops (mostly serving Island Farms) to enjoy Dolce Gelato (went with a killer tiramisu but also sampled equally impressive flavours pistachio, lavender, and pineapple and cucumber sorbettos)
Flying a bit under the radar is Yaletown Gelato which we’ve heard touted as dishing up classic Italian gelato and charm.
Soft Peaks Ice Cream, Twisted, and UYU Ice Cream are all fulfilling a somewhat niche demand for soft-serve in Gastown and interestingly , monopolizing the ice cream market in the area. If you’re in New Westminster, though, it’s all about the maple twist cone at Anny’s Dairy Bar.
Over in Kits, brand new spot Dip Ice Cream is churning out homemade soft-serve ice cream using milk from Abbotsford-based Birchwood Dairy which is then dipped in your choice of Rainforest Alliance Certified chocolate, toppings and drizzles.
When you can’t decide between a slurpee or an ice cream, the answer is of course, a screamer. Find these brain freeze dreams at the Screamers kiosk in Steveston or legit corner store style at Danny’s Market.
Sometimes it’s fun to go lighter on the base, heavy on toppings, especially when it’s DIY style. Go nuts at Menchies, Pinkberry, Qoola, with add-ons that range from fresh fruit or cheesecake bites to popping pearls and mochi balls. Locations run across the city, but you’ll probably notice that fro-yo, shopping, and movies seem to go hand in hand.
Over the Top Creations
When you’ve been good all week and deserve a really good weekend cheat day? Get all the things at Beta5 Chocolates. Their ice cream sandwiches and sundaes are on another level, and there’s something extra satisfying about sneaking one in curbside at their tucked away location.
For extra wow factor, 720 Sweets in Kits plays around with dry ice, while over on Robson, LIK N2 is whipping up liquid nitrogen creations injected with ganache-filled syringes. If you’re curious about “ice fried” rolled ice cream, check out On Yogurt.
For the clean eaters: Nice Vice products are organic, and dairy, soy, allergen, GMO, and cholesterol-free. So what do they use, you ask? They use sweet potato milk, organic coconut milk, white beans, and brown rice in many of their bases. We’re told their most popular menu item is Hemp Vice Cream. Look out for their van at David Lam Park all summer long.
Nothing better than an icy cold treat on a stick to beat the heat. For an old school street-side feel meets local artisanal mashup, follow Johnny’s Pops and Nice Pops to find them at the next community event/on the street (also check for updates on where their pops are stocked). And to get the best of both the ice cream and ice pop worlds, check out Pop Bar‘s gelato pops (Metrotown) or Soft Peaks‘ soft serve pops (Gastown).
Vancouver Ice Cream Map & Giveaways
For your convenience, we’ve mapped it all out for you. We’re also giving away a couple of ice cream gift cards on social soon, so be sure to come find us on Snapchat (@districtlocal), Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.