It’s hot. And you’re sweating. Profusely. Yep, it’s prime ice cream season (although for some of us it’s perpetually ice cream season), and luckily the city is spoiled for choice when it comes to killer ice cream.
Here’s the scoop: We’ve done some serious investigate journalism to reveal the ultimate ice cream in Toronto's east end. From traditional cones to old school soft-serve, decadent gelato and splendid sundaes, head to any of these local ice cream spots to fulfill your lactose destiny.
ED'S REAL SCOOP
Chilling out summer (and fall, winter and spring) for 15 years, Ed's Real Scoop is a Toronto ice cream institution with three locations including two in the east end. A family gathering spot marked by a clogged sidewalk of melting cones, the variety at Ed's is a vast rainbow of frozen treats including gelato, sorbet and its original house-made ice cream. With rotations happening on the daily, choosing a scoop in no easy task, but among the most popular of the 50-plus flavours are burnt marshmallow, chocolate peanut butter fudge, maple bacon crunch and mercury espresso.
920 Queen St. E (Leslieville) / 2224 Queen St. E (The Beaches)
GREG'S ICE CREAM
An OG player in Toronto's ice cream game, Greg Mahon was the first in the city to make all natural-ice cream and many consider this place the Holy Grail of parlours. The business has become locally famous since its humble beginnings in 1981, but the winning formula is still the same: premium ingredients, killer flavours and a quintessential ice cream experience that melts with nostalgia. They've got all the standard flavours, but roasted marshmallow is a favourite among fans.
32 Gristmill Lane
With locations across the city, Sweet Jesus in Riverside has amassed a legion of fans willing to wait through sometimes excrutiating line-ups for its outrageous soft-serve. 'Pimped-out cones' come piled with eccentric toppings and smothered in syrups and sauces — just begging to be Instagrammed. Creamy, airy and oh-my indulgent, they're the stuff of childhood dreams. Try the Fluffer Nutter, a Riverside-only specialty with marshmallow-coated ruffles, peanuts, chocolate crumble and peanut butter sauce surrounding a twist of chocolate-vanilla soft-serve.
780 Queen St. E
WONG'S ICE CREAM
Although the storefront is new to East Chinatown, the Asian-style ice cream parlour is just the latest startup from Ed Wong, formerly of Henry Brown’s Small Batch Ice Cream in Hamilton. Wong has created a lineup of hard ice creams with an emphasis on Asian flavour profiles — think lemongrass, wasabi, ginger and jasmine. "Our signature flavour is Chinese Tiger Tail — black sesame with salted duck egg," Wong says. Wong's Ice Cream also has vegan and gluten-free flavours such as orange candied ginger, coconut mango sticky rice and lemongrass lime sorbet, and quarts to buy and take home.
617 Gerrard St. E.
The Danforth outpost of the popular gelato shop that started in Little Italy is a must-hit in the neighbourhood. Dolce Gelato puts an impressive 60-plus flavours on offer meaning choice can be a serious dillema. Dig into traditional tastes such as stracciatella, tartufo and tiramisu, which come in cups or plain, sugar and waffle cones. If you feel yourself zoning out after engulfing your gelato, there's an espresso menu to help pick things up again.
414 Danforth Ave.
BRETT'S ICE CREAM
A newcomer for 2017, Brett's Ice Cream burst on the east end scene with 28 flavours in rotation — including a new feature flavour every week — in a light, minimalist space and is reminiscent of gone-by ice cream parlour. It's also where you can find one of the only gluten-free ice cream cones in Toronto. Or, step it up to the shop's hand-rolled Konery cake batter cones for an all-out decadent experience. Varieties include wild blueberry lavender, obscene brownie, melon prosecco and chocolate dipped strawberry. You can turn any of the ice creams into milkshakes or sundaes with your choice of toppings.
1698 Queen St. E
No need for dairy-averse folks to miss out on one of the greatest summer rituals. Pleasantville Creamery makes dairy-free ice cream that's 100% vegan, raw, eco-ethical and made with organic ingredients. With flavours like double cacao mousse with cookie crumbs, vanilla bean, white cake batter with frosting and sprinkles, and cold brew coffee with cinnamon french toast, you can feel good about indulging. Although they don't have counter-service, wholesome, small-batch pints are available through select stockists including Raise The Root in Leslieville, The Big Carrot on the Danforth and the Wholesome Market in the Beaches.
388 Carlaw Ave. *** pick-up & drop-ins by pre-approved appointment only
GREAT BURGER KITCHEN
Once exclusive to cottage country, Kawartha Dairy ice cream has become a mainstay across Ontario, and the classic flavours are all accounted for at Great Burger Kitchen. Locals light up for Moose Tracks (vanilla ice cream with chocolate peanut butter cups swirled with fudge), Black Raspberry Thunder, Muskoka Mocha and Birthday Cake. Kiddie size is $2.65 after tax, and a regular comes to $3.95.
1056 Gerrard St. E
CARTER'S ICE CREAM
Steps from the Danforth, Carter's does brisk business in the summer, doling out scoops of deliciously rich Kawartha Dairy ice cream. Choose between regular and waffle cones, milkshakes, floats, ice cream cakes — even waffle bowl sundaes. Plus, they've got a cache of all your favourite toppings from crushed Skor to M&Ms. They also take their operation mobile offering ice cream catering at corporate events, picnics, weddings and farmers' markets.
3 Woodmount Ave.
What's your favourite ice cream spot? Let us know in the comments below.