Craving a unique frozen treat? Here鈥檚 the scoop on 14 supercool DC-area ice cream spots

July 6, 2024

Mother Nature is turning up the temps, so of course, it’s about that time for us to all scream for ice cream. For foodies and lovers of culinary variety, though, it can be a rocky road to finding an ice cream treat or flavor that has yet to dazzle and delight your summertime taste buds.

Plain vanilla is so vanilla. A simple sugar cone is such the usual suspect. Where can you find the most innovative and tantalizing ice cream? Plenty of places in the D.C. area are serving up unique frozen treats 鈥 read on for the list of melty, mouthwatering options.

Rice Culture

Rice Culture
Halo halo (left) and taiyaki soft serve (right) at Rice Culture in Fairfax, Virginia. (Courtesy Andrew/FUN Food Group)

Rice Culture, located in Vienna, Virginia, started as a pop-up tent at farmers markets across the D.C. area. It’s blossomed into a thriving brick-and-mortar offering a variety of Asian-inspired and highly Instagrammable frozen treats.

They serve up taiyaki ice cream, which originated in Japan 鈥 “essentially an ice cream cup with a fish-shaped waffle on top,” according to MikkiJo Bayawa, owner at .

Customers choose their soft serve flavor and their taiyaki filling: ube custard, vanilla, custard, pandan custard, red bean or Nutella. Their housemade soft serve flavors switch up periodically 鈥 new starting in July is Thai green tea, black sesame noir, peach oolong and watermelon basil sorbet.

On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Rice Culture also offers the Filipino treat known as halo-halo: a shaved ice dessert with a variety of ingredients and your choice of soft serve on top.

“It鈥檚 a refreshing condensed milk flavored shaved ice dessert with layers of all sorts of ingredients for an end result that packs in lots of contrasting textures, from chewy to crunchy, creamy to sticky,” Bayawa said.

Goodies Frozen Custard and Treats

A little brick building in Alexandria, Virginia, is the home of , where proprietor Brandon Byrd serves up sweet treats based on the staple desserts of his childhood such as peach cobbler, banana pudding and pecan pie.

Born in Alabama with ties to Wisconsin, he wanted Goodies to bring “the Southern influence with Midwest feel” to this region.

鈥淔rozen custard is big in the Midwest,” Byrd said. “It’s not as big in the DMV.”

For many customers, he said Goodies provides a unique experience, and for himself, he says being able to have a piece of the Midwest on the East Coast is nostalgic.

Byrd said his most popular treat is the Boogie Woogie sundae, a turtle pecan sundae that’s been featured on The Food Network.

Goodies Frozen Custard and Treats
The Oreo chocolate cake custardwich (left), and the peach cobbler custardwich (right, taken by Instagram user @richauntieslay) at Goodies Frozen Custard and Treats. (Courtesy Brandon Byrd/Goodies Frozen Custard and Treats)

He said everything is delicious, but you can鈥檛 go wrong with any custardwich, particularly the rum cake option, which is a “vanilla bean frozen custard sandwiched between two slices of rum cake, with burnt caramel sauce.”

Byrd said that Goodies’ menu is deliberately small to prioritize quality over quantity. In fact, the only addition to the menu he鈥檚 made in recent years was a by-request-only banana pudding milkshake that was so delectable, his customers demanded it be a regular menu offering.


A wheel of Coneacopia’s cone offerings. (Courtesy Coneacopia/Avril Johnson)

, located inside the Rendezvous restaurant on Ninth Street in Northwest D.C., is a Black-owned, woman-owned business that puts its focus on the vehicle for the ice cream: the cone.

Plenty of residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland, will instantly know the flavor of one of the cones, just by name: Forestville vs. Iverson.

The Pink Panther (salted strawberry cotton candy) cone with Pink Panther and Dark & Lovely (chocolate brownie) Cone Dusts at Coneacopia. (Courtesy Coneacopia/Avril Johnson)

“It is the age-old debate of the DMV,” co-owner Avril Johnson said, referring to the snickerdoodles served up by the pound at Iverson Mall 鈥 where Stevie Wonder was recently spotted indulging in the famous sugar-and-cinnamon cookies 鈥 versus those sold at Forestville Mall, just a few miles away.

Johnson, whose sister Nanette is also a co-owner, said 颁艒苍别补肠辞辫颈补 has a few hidden gems: Bananarama, a banana fritter flavored cone that she said “takes customers by surprise”; MVP, a deconstructed chocolate chip cookie cone that “tastes like a chocolate chip cookie on the way down”; and their signature Cone Dust, which they don’t advertise on social media.

“Cone Dust is a crushed up version of every cone that we use as a topping,” Johnson said. “If a customer is torn between which cone flavor they’d like, they can use the Cone Dust to mix and match flavors.”

She said one of their most popular Cone Dusts is the Pink Panther flavor: salted strawberry cotton candy with Pop Rocks in it.


Malai opened its first shop outside of New York in D.C. in May 2024. (Courtesy Malai/Morgan Ione Photography)

, which opened at 1407 T Street in Northwest D.C. this May, draws inspiration from South Asian ingredients and “unexpected twists on classic flavors.”

With its flagship store in Brooklyn, New York, Malai features ice cream that is “eggless, handcrafted, and churned with very little air, resulting in purer, more robust flavors, as well as the creamiest textures you can find,” according to its website, which lists both their dairy and nondairy flavor offerings.

Founder and CEO Pooja Bavishi said she never discriminates when it comes to Malai’s ice cream flavors, but there is a combo she waits for all year long: summer seasonal fig on fig, with coffee cardamom and orange fennel.

“There is something about how the different flavors and spices fit together that I truly crave and get excited about this time of year, every year,” Bavishi said.

Some flavors listed on the website are self-explanatory while others certainly require an explanation, such as “Madame Vice President.” Malai said the flavor celebrates Kamala Harris’ “glass ceiling shattering win as the first female VP of the U.S., “honoring her East and West Indian roots with coconut and mango as the ice cream base, with “jaggery candied lotus seeds” folded in as a nod to her first name, which means “lotus” in Sanskrit.

Tipsy Scoop D.C.

Can’t decide between going for ice cream or going for drinks? Why not both?

Tipsy Scoop
Dark chocolate whiskey salted caramel ice cream from Tipsy Scoop. (Courtesy Tipsy Scoop)

is a “barlour” in Northwest D.C. that offers spiked ice creams and sorbets 鈥 all with 5% alcohol content or less.

With flavors like strawberry white sangria sorbet and dark chocolate whiskey salted caramel ice cream, customers are “buzzing” about this shop, the first of its kind in the city.

WTOP’s Matt Kaufax was among the first to try Tipsy Scoop out, after its grand opening earlier this year, and his recommendation is, emphatically, their vodka-infused raspberry limoncello sorbet.

“It’s refreshing like a raspberry lemonade,” Kaufax said. “Like a slushy beverage on a nice, hot summer’s day.”

Pasha Castle

Located on M Street in Georgetown, specializes in “authentic exotic sweets and irresistible Mediterranean treats.”

One such treat is their ashta ice cream, a traditional style of ice cream made from simmered milk that is heralded as soft and super creamy.

Crushed pistachio topping and color-changing spoons are some highlights of the content uploaded by ice cream enthusiasts to .

Ice Cream Jubilee

Ice Cream Jubilee’s new blueberry crisp (left) and peaches and cream (right) flavors. (Courtesy Ice Cream Jubilee)

, with locations in Navy Yard, Georgetown and Ballston, has focused on clean, locally-sourced ingredients as well as whimsical and innovative flavors since opening up shop 10 years ago.

This month, the ice creamery introduced two new flavors for the peak of summer: blueberry crisp, wild blueberry jam mixed with vanilla ice cream and topped with cinnamon streusel; and peaches and cream, sweet summer peach jam churned with local cream.

“Some of our classic flavors are also hitting the spot right now,” Laura O’Shaughnessy, Ice Cream Jubilee’s chief marketing officer told WTOP. “I had Cookie Cookie Dough ice cream sandwich between two chocolate chip sea salt cookies recently and I can鈥檛 stop thinking about it.”

O’Shaughnessy said Ice Cream Jubilee is unique because it is local to the D.C. area 鈥 and gives back by donating 1% of sales to the communities around their shops.

The Dairy Godmother

The Dairy Godmother, located in Alexandria, Virginia, features a “flavor forecast” calendar .

A few of the flavors available throughout the month of July? On the 12th and 13th, there’s amaretto cherry chip: almond custard with cherry sauce and chocolate chips. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, try going the next week 鈥 on the 18th and 19th, there’s fizzy cotton candy, which is cotton candy custard with fizzy cotton candy pieces.

No matter what your ice cream flavor palate is like, The Dairy Godmother is sure to have an option for you to happily treat yourself to.

Mount Desert Island Ice Cream

If it’s important to you that your ice cream shop of choice make no more than five gallons at a time, may be the place for you.

Their D.C. store is located at 3110 Mt. Pleasant Street in Northwest, and the other five stores are located in Maine and Japan.

According to its website, Mount Desert Island was born in 2005 with a mission to provide never-seen-before flavors, which led to the creation of chocolate wasabi ice cream.

Some of the ice cream flavors featured on the website’s menu are blueberry sour cream crumble, butterbeer, and salmiakki, which is salt licorice.

Mimi’s Handmade Ice Cream


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Have you ever heard of grilled beets ice cream? Head to one of locations, in Arlington or Rockville, to try it out. Other highly unique flavors include finocchio, guava, wasabi peas and sweet corn 鈥 all of which are made in store.

Dolcezza Gelato

You’re likely to be familiar with , which, these days, can be found in many supermarket freezers. There are six shops in the D.C. area, including one at the Hirshhorn Museum and one in Fairfax’s Mosaic District.

Flavors like dulce de leche chip, blueberry lavender, and hazelnut crackle help maintain this shop’s status as an area favorite for frozen treats.


is a small ice cream shop with locations in downtown Silver Spring and Capitol Hill in D.C. Their focus is to create quality ice cream that’s also better for you than its rivals, nutritionally.

The shops offer fun ice cream flavors like Key lime pie, cotton candy gummy bear and blackberry chocolate chip. They also have sorbets to the tune of grapefruit campari, pineapple orange ginger and more. Don’t do dairy? They have a handful of vegan, plant-based options as well.

Salumeria 2703

is a deli with two locations in Northeast D.C. that sells more than sandwiches. Their beautiful artisanal gelato selection is made using organic local whole milk, natural flavors and fresh fruit.

Happy Ice Cream

Located on 17th Street in Northwest D.C., said they “only scoop outside” and “only when the weather is nice.” With flavors like tangelo and sheep’s milk ricotta chocochip, it may be worth checking out the scoop schedule on their website to ensure you can grab a cup or sourdough cone.

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Dana Sukontarak

Dana Sukontarak is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. She loves haiku poetry, short sci-fi stories and word games. She grew up in Prince George鈥檚 County, Maryland, and currently lives in Silver Spring.

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