As temperatures soar across the Magic City, one can't help but crave a scoop of ice cream. It's at this time of year more than ever, that your neighborhood ice cream parlor becomes a sanctuary for the scorching heat and relentless humidity.
Because July is also National Ice Cream Month, here, listed in alphabetical order, are the ten best ice cream purveyors in Miami-Dade.
Aubi & Ramsa172 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 shop, open to patrons age 21 and 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, or a serving of Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut balanced with a light tangerine sorbet. (Aubi & Ramsa also operates a small ice cream "bar" at Aventura Mall, in case you require some frozen courage to tackle the stores.)
Azucar Ice Cream Company1503 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 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 in 2016: chocolate ice cream with a kick of cayenne.
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' java; and the "Fat Elvis," blended with peanut butter, banana, and Miami Smokers bacon. The shop also offers a selection of vegan flavors, including chocolate chipotle and raspberry chocolate rum.
The Frieze Ice Cream Factory1626 Michigan Ave., Miami Beach
This shop has been a South Beach staple for 30 years, whipping up homemade and uniquely named flavors such as "Sassy Strawberry" and "Get Down Boogie-Oogie Cookie," not to mention rich-tasting sorbets. The dozen or so sorbet flavors, made with tempting fruits like watermelon and passionfruit, are refreshing but not too watery, tart but not too tangy. If you’re feeling fancy, ask for the crowd favorite: Champagne sorbet.
Lulu's Nitrogen Ice Cream2001 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 open her own shop on Biscayne Boulevard. First, you choose a base flavor, 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 like chocolate, vanilla, and the popular Nutella are always available. More creative options might include piña colada, honey lavender, key lime, and strawberry cheesecake — and there will always be at least one vegan choice (like avocado). All of the dairy used is local and comes from the shop's very own adopted cow. Her name, of course, is Lulu.
MadLab Creamery140 NE 39th St., Miami
Soraya Kilgore — best known as the pastry chef at restaurants like Brava and Alter — is the woman behind this palace of sweets in Miami's Design District. MadLab Creamery isn't just about the ice cream, however. This spot also entices young and old to create their own sweet-treat work of art via more than 30 toppings, including edible glitter, tufts of pink cotton candy, golden-sheet sprinkles, even a macaroon or two. Unique flavors of ice cream abound, rotating by the season and limited-edition offerings. Other sweet indulgences include the shop's own matcha swiss rolls, chocolate sold by the pound, and jiggly Japanese cheesecake.
Serendipity Creamery & Yogurt Cafe9457 Harding Ave., Surfside
For Serendipity's Jessica Levison, ice cream is more than a scoop of chocolate or vanilla. As the owner of an artisanal ice cream shop, she spends most of her time in a production kitchen inventing new flavors. There have been flower-infused creams like lavender orange, coconut-based vegan varieties made without refined sugar, and a steady roster of booze-charged flavors made with local brews like J. Wakefield. Today, Levison sells a selection of signature ice creams, from her orange marmalade, pecan pie, and breakfast cereal to beer floats to exotic sorbet flavors like blood orange. Most of Levison's flavors, however, are in constant evolution, guaranteeing that no visit to her shop will be the same as the last.
Sweet Melody Crafted Ice Cream17389 S. Dixie Hwy., Palmetto Bay (shop)
15224 Sunset Dr., Miami (ventanita)
Five years after its debut, "Let It Brie" remains one of Sweet Melody's singular treats: an ice cream made with baked Brie mixed with a touch of salt, loads of apricot jam, and toasted almonds. But it's just one of many creamy creations concocted by chef/owner Mike Romeu, who began his ice cream venture in 2016, inspired by his daughter, Melody, for whom it is named. What began as a home-based operation using an ice-cream maker from BrandsMart to churn out the "Sunday Morning Hangover" — a bourbon ice cream containing candied bacon, peach, and bits of biscuits — has since grown into two locations: a scoop shop in Palmetto Bay and a ventanita in Kendall. Romeu peddles an ever-rotating selection of more than 100 recipes served alongside an expanded menu of specialty ice cream sundaes, ice cream cakes, and pies. Those sundaes include a plátano maduro split made with fried sweet plantains, three scoops of ice cream, espresso chocolate fudge, dulce de leche, and guava rum sauce topped with fresh chantilly and almond brittle.
Taiyaki at 1-800-Lucky143 NW 23rd St., Miami
You've seen them all over Instagram — little fish-shaped cones with ice cream that resembles a unicorn, a Care Bear, or other such delightful, whimsical creatures. Taiyaki has taken Miami by storm with the most adorable and photogenic treats known to mankind. The fish-shaped cone is filled with red bean paste and topped with a soft-serve swirl. Top them with everything from sprinkles to candy. Special editions such as unicorn, Christmas tree, and Easter Bunny cones are available seasonally.
Wall's Old Fashioned Ice Cream8075 SW 67th Ave., Miami
Wall's Old Fashioned Ice Cream does things — well, the old-fashioned way. Ice cream is made in traditional flavors made with fresh ingredients. Even the fudge is homemade, a simple combination of butter, chocolate, sugar, and cream, prepared in small batches to ensure freshness. This shop is perhaps best known for its creamy "creations" — from the "Cookie Monster Sundae," which combines two giant chocolate chip cookies and two flavors of ice cream (your choice) capped off with both wet and dry toppings, to the "Peanut Butter Deluxe," an immense bowl of peanut butter ice cream smothered with pourable peanut butter and hot fudge and topped with whipped cream and peanuts. If you're celebrating, check out the "Great Wall of Ice Cream," a cakelike creation that combines a dozen flavors of ice cream with bananas, brownies, a choice of four toppings along with whipped cream and a cherry. Polish if off and you'll get your photo on the shop's Wall of Fame!