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
A relative newcomer to the ice cream game, Sweet Jesus has quickly 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
ICE CREAM BAKE SHOP
The Ice Cream Bake Shop at Pizza Thick is a small, nostalgic space that brings back memories of grabbing ice cream as a kid. It's hard to go wrong with the shop's standard Kawartha Dairy scoop or step things up to Death in Venice Gelato, for a truly wonderful and indulgent experience. "Our most popular flavour is a tie between the Salty Caramel Truffle from Kawartha and the Bourbon Dark Smoke from Death in Venice," says owner Amylee Silva. This is also the spot for ice cream sandwiches, floats and milkshakes. The cherry on top? If you're too hot to move, pints, milkshakes and floats are available for delivery. Yes, delivery.
1026 Queen 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.
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.