Need something to do this weekend? Here are five Vancouver ice cream shops that will make it feel like summer is still here.
Rain or Shine Ice Cream, 1926 West 4th Avenue
Brown Butter Snickerdoodle. Blueberry Balsamic. Honey Lavender. And a Salted Caramel that simply kicks the ass of every other rendition out there. You could just order chocolate or vanilla, but somehow that wouldn’t seem as fun at this haven of fresh homemade ice cream. Scoopers pile the made-from-scratch good stuff high on waffle cones-- except on Taco Tuesdays, when they spoon it into waffle versions of the Mexican pockets. (Think hot fudge syrup instead of salsa picante.) Grab a pint from the freezer to take home while you’re at it.
Glenburn Soda Fountain & Confectionary, 4090 Hastings Street
Much like sex, ice cream tends to go better with bananas and a fancy serving dish. Over at the Glenburn Soda Fountain & Confectionary, the banana split tops an extensive menu of sundaes, shakes, cones, floats and sundry other items plucked from the John Steinbeck novel of your choice. The only thing that’s colder than the Glenburn’s vintage Malted—a chocolate American beauty as classic as the ’57 T-Bird—is the looming threat of nuclear war so beautifully evoked by the Eisenhower-era design.
UYU IceCream, 433 Abbott Street
Your childhood swirly cones never tasted like this. But that’s part of the appeal of this parlour in the hipster heart of Gastown: nostalgic soft-serve with organic, gourmet ingredients. Don’t come to this joint looking for 97 flavours; just choose from whatever few are on offer. We recommend the subtle Earl Grey or the rich Belgian chocolate. Then top off your towering cone with a drizzle of the shop’s delicious syrups, like caramel, passionfruit, or raspberry. Almost too beautiful to eat. And, yeah, you’ll probably need a napkin.
Bella Gelateria, 1001 West Cordova Street
Who else but Bella Gelateria founder James Coleridge would dream up a hemp gelato to celebrate 420 Day in Vancouver? The city’s most imaginative ice-cream shop (if you can call gelato ice cream) attracts hordes of customers at its location on Cordova with its hand-crafted flavours sourced from local producers. Yes, farm-to-table exists in the gelato universe and it’s taken the maestro to the height of success, winning prizes at Italy’s Gelato Festival and at the International Fair of Artisan Gelato. Italian gelato students even apprentice at Bella Gelateria. A newer Yaletown location (1089 Marinaside Crescent) is much roomier and serves pizza created in a stone oven emblazoned with the word “BELLA”. The gelato isn’t cheap and the parking meters in Yaletown and along Coal Harbour are ravenous, but it’s still well worth the trip.
Earnest Ice Cream, 3992 Fraser Street
Atmosphere is a huge part of the charm at Earnest Ice Cream on Fraser—with its wide wooden floorboards, old-school stools, and vintage-looking lighting, it’s like Portlandia mixed with the soda shop in It’s a Wonderful Life. But the real reason for the lineup that often stretches out the door and up a nondescript street is an awesomely artisanal approach to frozen dairy confections. When the last time you had a Cardamom ice cream cone that actually tasted like tasted like cardamom. Same for the Whiskey Hazelnut, Blackberry Coriander, and Matchstick Espresso Flake. For the less adventurous, Earnest Ice Cream has you covered on modern standbys like Salted Caramel and Cookies and Cream, with flavours changing every day. The only drag? That would be that Jimmy Stewart isn’t standing behind the counter, making your ice cream even better by putting a bird on it.