Atlanta Ice Cream Shops Keepin' It Cool

How to beat the summer heat in Atlanta: Scoop up some ice cream.
  • Honeysuckle Gelato makes gelato sandwiches. (Honeysuckle Gelato)
    Honeysuckle Gelato makes gelato sandwiches. (Honeysuckle Gelato)
  • Atlantans know to stop at the sign of the rainbow umbrella. (Chaise Helaine)
    Atlantans know to stop at the sign of the rainbow umbrella. (Chaise Helaine)
  • Miller Union serves ice cream sandwiches at lunch only. (David Naugle)
    Miller Union serves ice cream sandwiches at lunch only. (David Naugle)

When the temperatures soar, refresh with one of Atlanta’s best frozen treats: ice cream. These local delights will have you wishing for a few more days of summertime.

SCOOPS, SHAKES, SANDWICHES

Flavors of the South are infused into sweet frozen goodness at Honeysuckle Gelato in Ponce City Market. What started in a food truck in 2011 has blossomed into a retail shop in the Central Food Hall, selling scoops, shakes and sandwiches. Gelato flavors include:

  • Creamy Nutella
  • Brown Butter
  • Honey Lavender
  • Goat Cheese 
  • Honey 
  • Fresh Mint

Gelato sandwiches are offered from a push cart in the Ponce City Market courtyard (Thursday -- Saturday, 4:30 -- 8:30 p.m.) and on the BeltLine (The Shed at Ponce City Market, 2 -- 6 p.m.) on Sundays. Choose your grab-and-go option from the cart in the form of:

  • Fresh Mint Chip Brownie
  • Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cookie
  • Salted Caramel Brownie
  • Butter Pecan Blondie

For those who can’t make it to Ponce City Market, pints of these local favorites are available at Whole Foods stores and include:

  • Brown Butter Crunch, made with local Banner Butter and toffee chips
  • Bourbon Pecan Praline
  • Fresh Mint Chip
  • Chocolate
  • Sea Salted Caramel
  • Raspberry Sorbet

Honeysuckle Gelato’s partnership with the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) allows it to give 5 percent of all profits to the ACFB, making sure other families can get food on their table. So, order a second scoop or surprise a friend with made-from-scratch creamy dreamy gelato. You’ll be doing some good for the community.

THE RAINBOW UMBRELLA

In Atlanta, kids and adults know when they see a rainbow umbrella, a King of Pops push cart is near. Originally found on the corner of North Avenue and North Highland Avenue in Inman Park and now with many regular cart spots throughout Atlanta including SunTrust Park, Piedmont Park and a walk-up window on the Atlanta BeltLine, the King of Pops makes it convenient for locals to grab the last Thai Iced Tea or Cookies and Cream pop. Each pop is handmade, which means that you’ll receive as many cookies as possible packed into one Banana Puddin’ pop. The Chocolate Sea Salt flavor has been included in several Best of Atlanta polls, and other year-round flavors include:

  • Raspberry Lime
  • Key Lime Pie 
  • Orange Cream

Seasonal summer flavors include:

  • Pineapple Habanero
  • Grapefruit Mint 
  • Lemon Basil 
  • Peaches n’ Cream

The King of Pops team puts a lot of effort into making the pop ingredients as local as possible. Thus, King of Crops was born and created “the world’s first popsicle farm.” The West Georgia farm is the company’s way of creating local, organic produce to use in its very own pops, quite literally following the product creation from crop to pop.

If those pops aren’t good enough by themselves, then head to the King of Pops Bar at Ponce City Market for a Poptail -- fresh juice, alcohol and a pop all in one glass. Try the Bear Trap with bourbon, lemon, blackberry, soda, a Blackberry Ginger Lemon pop and the Lucha Leche with horchata, spiced rum, cinnamon and a vanilla pop.

LONG-TIME ATLANTA FAVORITE

Nostalgia prevails at Atlanta area Zesto locations, which serve satisfying American food and frozen treats made with real ice cream -- not ice milk or another combination. Although not technically created in Atlanta, this Rockton, Ill., company started in 1945 and has several franchises based here that are mostly family owned. In 1949, the first Zesto opened in Atlanta by John Livaditis. Fries, fried chicken, hot dogs and burgers including Atlanta’s original double decker hamburger called the Chubby Decker are sold, but the real stars are the desserts. Order a Brown Crown and you’ll receive soft serve ice cream dipped in chocolate, or a crunchier version in the Nut Brown Crown. Colorful sundaes in comforting flavors like hot fudge and butterscotch also come with wild cherry, blueberry, peanut butter, coffee, peach and more. Grab a friend and dig into a banana split or try a hand-spun milkshake, twist cone or ice cream float. The Arctic Swirl is made with candies, cookies or nuts: Mint Oreo, Brownie Bites, Nana Nilla and M&Ms. Find a Zesto on Piedmont Road in Buckhead, in East Atlanta, Little Five Points, Forest Park and a bit farther south in Tyrone.

SAY HELLO TO THE QUEEN

There are very few things better than a cup of steaming coffee and quality ice cream as an afternoon snack. Queen of Cream takes ice cream-making seriously, and the result is 100 percent, made from scratch, with no pre-made mixes in sight. You’ll always find flavors like:

  • Deep Chocolate
  • Cookies + Cream
  • Cold-Brew Coffee with Cocoa Nib Crunch, Brown Butter Pecan and Lavender Honeycomb 
  • Sprinkle Cookie

In 2014, Queen of Cream was created as an ice cream cart and in 2015, its bright and cheerful ice cream and coffee parlor opened in the Old Fourth Ward, serving small batch ice cream with coffee and pastries. Queen of Cream’s milk is sourced from Working Cows Dairy in Alabama and the Queen even pasteurizes her own ice cream base. Mix your flavors with perhaps Tahitian Vanilla Bean and Brown Butter Pecan in a freshly made waffle cone. Sundae flavors pop up including the Strawberry Cheesecake Sundae with Strawberry and Vanilla Bean ice cream, fresh strawberry sauce, Graham Cracker and pie crumbs, cheesecake sauce and local grass-fed whipped cream. That pastry you order alongside your dessert is made in-house as well.

ARE WE IN ITALY?

At Paolo’s Gelato Italiano, guests wander into the Virginia-Highland location and are immediately overtaken with the myriad flavors of gelato. A Treviso, Italy, native, the colorful host and owner, Paolo Dalla Zorza, opened his gelateria in 2000 after studying gelato around the world, and now he offers more than 62 flavors. There isn’t just one chocolate flavor. There’s a whole section of chocolate gelatos: dark chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate hazelnut and even a hot pepper- infused chocolate. Paolo’s is all about pairing, so definitely order more than one scoop. Try pistachio and almond or creamy flavors like Zuppa Inglese (custard base with bits of cake and sherry), rum raisin and Stracciatella (a fior di latte base with chocolate bits). To make your choosing even harder, coffee flavors and summery shades of sorbetti in Mandarin orange, lemon, local fig, peaches and apricot provide a delight for the senses.

A Cannoli Bar is also in the shop, where patrons can make a customized cannoli. Pair your cannoli or gelato with Italian coffee such as cappuccino, latte, macchiato and espresso, as well as affogato, akin to an Italian coffee float. Come early -- the lines will grow longer as the summer months get hotter.

ONLY AT LUNCH

While not technically a frozen treat shop, Miller Union serves delightful ice cream sandwiches, and only during the lunch service. Pastry chef Pamela Moxley creates this only dessert on the lunch menu, and the daily selection usually offers two or three flavors. A semifinalist for “Outstanding Pastry Chef” at the 2016 James Beard Awards, Moxley’s seasonal flavor selections have included Chocolate-Malt Brownie, Spiced-Caramel Swirl, Strawberry, Lemon Bar Crunch, Espresso-Pistachio Toffee and Brown Sugar-Chocolate, all encased in a soft homemade cookie. These gems pair perfectly with a local favorite that’s always voted one of the top burgers in Atlanta: Miller Union’s grass-fed burger with cheddar cheese, traditional fixings and fries. Steven Satterfield, executive chef, and Neal McCarthy, general manager, serve refined, Southern-slanted cuisine. You’ll be in good hands here.

Be sure to visit the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival for more local flavors in one setting. The free festival in Piedmont Park on July 28 promises a great family day.

Liesl Merkel is editor of Atlanta Now magazine, the official tourism guide of Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.

 

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