As temperatures soar, Miamians can't help but crave a scoop of ice cream. And though some people consider this cold, creamy blend a special treat, locals deem it a necessity. From Serendipity in Wynwood to Azucar in Little Havana, your neighborhood ice-cream parlor is a sanctuary for the scorching heat and relentless humidity.
July is also National Ice Cream Month. To celebrate, here are the ten best ice-cream makers in Miami-Dade.
Aubi + Ramsa
172 NE 41st St., Miami
Behind a wooden bar, a wall of bottles glows at Aubi + Ramsa. But this is no ordinary bar. Your choice of spirit will come in the form of an icy scoop, not a liquid pour. The space, for patrons aged 21 or older, offers frozen treats fused with various spirits, from tequila and rosé to vodka, gin, and red wine. Try Macallan 12-year single-malt Scotch blended with a creamy Belgian chocolate cream ($7 to $10), or a serving of Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut balanced with a light tangerine sorbet. Then there's the Kentucky Crème Brûlée, an organic vanilla-pudding ice cream made with Four Roses single-barrel bourbon and caramelized sugar sprinkles. A 3.7-ounce serving contains about 4.9 percent ABV and will set you back about $9. Aubi & Ramsa also has a small ice cream "bar" at Aventura Mall, in case you need some frozen courage to tackle the stores.
Azucar Ice Cream Company
1503 SW Eighth St., Miami
When strolling along Calle Ocho in the afternoon, nothing satisfies like a scoop of something cold. So pop into Azucar Ice Cream Company, where you'll find flavors that could be dreamed up only in Miami. Located in the heart of Little Havana, this shop has long served frozen sweets with Cuban flair. Instead of downing scoops ($3 to $5) of French vanilla and bubblegum, you'll savor flavors such as café con leche, plátano maduro (sweet plantain), and Abuela María (vanilla ice cream with ripe guava, chunks of cream cheese, and crushed Maria cookies). There's also the Burn in Hell, Fidel! — which was created days after the announcement of Castro's death — featuring chocolate ice cream with a kick of cayenne.
3137 Commodore Plaza, Coconut Grove
Federico Di Franco's family has been making the Italian version of ice cream for years. The gelato maestro brought his family recipe from Milan to Coconut Grove. And just as he did in Italy, Di Franco uses only organic ingredients — antibiotic-free milk, local fruit, Italian nuts, and Belgian chocolate. Bianco Gelato also offers dairy-free gelato and granita for vegans and lactose-intolerant guests; delicious and exotic flavors include pineapple-mint and pistachio. With prices ranging from $5 for a piccolo (small) to $7 for a grande (large), it's a tiny trip to Italy with a price you can afford.
8224 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
Cream Parlor, a sky-blue ice-cream shop and café on the Upper Eastside, is the progeny of husband and wife Johnny and Ainsley Tsokos, who dreamed of sharing their favorite foods with the public in a quaint, vintage-style space. Besides offering a menu filled with salads and sandwiches, which are served on Zak the Baker bread, Cream Parlor is best known for its selection of house-made ice cream and desserts ($3 and up). Don't pass up a few scoops of pastelito cheesecake or the Prince-inspired Purple Rain, covered with berries and dark chocolate.
Dasher & Crank
2211 NW Second Ave., Miami
This chef-driven craft ice-cream shop revolves around a rotating lineup of 18 flavors, from raspberry wasabi to mint with activated charcoal. Take, for instance, Dasher & Crank's Chicken and Waffles flavor, which mixes chunks of chicken and waffle from Wynwood's Kush. Then there's Coffee and Cinnamon Rolls, which uses Knaus Berry Farm's rolls and Per'la's java; and the Fat Elvis, blended with peanut butter, banana, and Miami Smokers bacon. The shop also offers up to six vegan flavors, including chocolate chipotle and raspberry chocolate rum.
The Frieze Ice Cream Factory
1626 Michigan Ave., Miami Beach
This shop has been a staple for 30 years in South Beach, where it whips up homemade and uniquely named flavors ($3 and up) such as Sassy Strawberry, Perfect Pistachio, Jack Daniel's Maple Walnut, and Get Down Boogie-Oogie Cookie. The Frieze also offers rich-tasting sorbets. The dozen or so flavors, including watermelon and passionfruit, are refreshing but not too watery, and tart but not too tangy. If you’re feeling fancy, ask for the crowd favorite: champagne sorbet.
Lulu's Nitrogen Ice Cream
2001 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
In 2013, Luisa Santos was studying political economy at Georgetown University when she learned a surprising fact: Ice cream could be made from scratch using liquid nitrogen. Today her hunger for running a business and producing quality ice cream has led her to create one of Miami's best purveyors of frozen treats. The way it works is you choose a base ($5 for two scoops), which Santos emphasizes has been made in-store from scratch. Then it's frozen right in front of you. Flavors rotate frequently and according to what's in season at the farms in Homestead. But fear not — classics such as chocolate, vanilla, and the popular Nutella will always be available. More creative options might include strawberry basil or honey lavender, and there will always be at least one vegan choice, such as avocado. All of the dairy used is local and comes from the shop's very own adopted cow. Her name, of course, is Lulu.
140 NE 39th St., Miami
Soraya Kilgore's palace of sweets adds a sparkle to the Design District. MadLab Creamery entices young and old via edible glitter, swirls of pink cotton candy, golden-sheet sprinkles, and unique flavors of ice cream and chocolate. Try a blend of green matcha and rich chocolate soft-serve topped with hand-spun cotton candy and a whiff of glitter ($6 and up).
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Serendipity Creamery & Yogurt Cafe
9457 Harding Ave., Surfside
Owned by Jessica Levison, Serendipity sells a selection of signature creams ($5 to $7), such as salted caramel, pecan pie, and lavender orange, along with beer floats made with local brews. Most of Levison's flavors, however, are in constant evolution, meaning no visit to her shop is the same. Depending upon the day, customers might find flavors such as blood-orange sorbet or white Russian with candied hazelnuts.
Taiyaki at 1-800-Lucky
143 NW 23rd St., Miami
Taiyaki has taken Miami by storm with the most adorable and photogenic treats known to mankind. For $8, the fish-shaped cone is filled with red bean paste and topped with a soft-serve swirl. Special editions such as unicorn, Christmas tree, and Easter bunny cones are available seasonally.