Dreaming of something frozen to beat the heat? These sweet spots have your summer cravings covered.
Tastes of Home
For a long time, Toby Bantug was dismayed that he couldn’t find premium ice cream in flavors like avocado, ube (purple yam) and macapuno (coconut) that were reminiscent of his Filipino upbringing. So the owner of Toby’s Homemade Ice Cream & Coffee began making small-batch taste memories in his Westover shop. Today, those and other limited-edition specialties—including seasonal scoops such as green tea, cherry blossom sorbet and pumpkin—can be found among his two dozen flavor options, from coffee-Oreo to banana cream pie. While kids are fans of the shop’s giant sundaes and banana splits, adults may be more familiar with the beer ice cream that Bantug occasionally makes for neighboring Westover Market. Want to explore more Filipino sweets? Bistro 7107, a new fusion restaurant in Crystal City, will begin serving select Toby’s treats this summer.
Toby’s Homemade Ice Cream & Coffee, 5849-A Washington Blvd., Arlington; 703-536-7000, www.tobysicecream.com
When David Guas, the chef-owner of Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery, decided to bring a taste of New Orleans to Courthouse, he knew summer would mean Sno-Balls, a local favorite in the Crescent City. Available from May 1 to Labor Day, the shaved-ice treats, topped with syrup and condensed milk and served in Chinese takeout boxes, come in four to five rotating flavors. Traditionalists tend to opt for dreamsicle and cherry. But when strawberries arrive at the farmers market down the street, Guas orders a dozen flats and gets to work reducing the berries into syrup for a fresh, local take on his hometown’s favorite icy treat.
Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery, 1515 North Courthouse Road, Arlington; 703-243-2410, www.bayoubakeryva.com
Kohinoor Dhaba, a quiet Northern Indian restaurant in Crystal City, serves two house-made versions of a popular dessert called kulfi. Similar to ice cream, it’s made by combining a rich mixture of cream and milk with fresh mango or pistachios. The frozen dessert is a great way to cool your mouth after sampling fiery dishes such as lamb vindaloo or chicken tikka masala. If you order your kulfi to go—entrée portions are huge, so you may not have room for that last course—the staff will wait until you are ready to leave before they package it.
Kohinoor Dhaba, 2800 South Eads St., Arlington; 703-778-5005, www.kohinoordhaba.com
How about a little magic show with your dessert? At Nicecream Factory, 2832 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington; 703-908-0225, www.nicecreamfactory.com, each cup of ice cream is made to order in a process that takes a mere 60 seconds. The secret ingredient in the flash-freezing process? Liquid nitrogen, which produces a dramatic fog effect before it evaporates, leaving a smoother, denser product with fewer ice crystals than conventional ice cream. Falls Church residents Sandra Tran and Gil Welsford opened their Clarendon shop in May and quickly gained a following with quirky flavors ranging from Mama’s mint mojito to french toast. Nicecream can also be found on Sundays at the Mosaic Central Farm Market in Merrifield.
Nicecream Factory, 2832 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington; 703-908-0225, www.nicecreamfactory.com
Baker/owner Justin Stegall makes his own small-batch ice cream at Bakeshop in Clarendon, often with fruits from the Clarendon and Courthouse farmers markets, or from stands near his home in Great Falls. But he doesn’t stop there. Taking it up a level, he sandwiches his frozen concoctions between oversized cookies or macaron shells. These sweet treats are available year-round, in combinations that change frequently. Look for oatmeal cookies with banana pudding ice cream, or “macwiches”—macarons bookending ice cream that’s been flavored with Cap’n Crunch cereal milk. Stegall also offers soy and vegan options, although those frozen fillings aren’t made in-house.
Bakeshop, 1025 North Fillmore St., Arlington; 571-970-6460, www.bakeshopva.com
Finding Sinplicity’s signature ice cream “sinwiches” can be a little tougher these days, but it’s worth a stop if you spy the blue truck with the flying-cow emblem. The Falls Church-based catering business last year pulled its food truck off the road and out of farmers markets to focus on festivals and private events, where it serves up its artisan ice creams and sorbets as plain scoops, or stuffed between French macaron shells or warm brownies. Owner-chef Leland Atkinson is known for his unique flavors (think peanut butter truffle or lemon-ginger sorbet with spiced Jamaican rum) and clever combinations like Tipsy Strawberry (crimson macarons filled with margarita curd and strawberry ice cream). Everything is made from scratch using small-batch pasteurization, house-ground spices, fresh juices, whole fruits and antibiotic-free milk.
Sinplicity Catering; 703-892-1400, www.sinplicitycatering.com
Falls Church has changed drastically since 1950, but it’s held fast to one tasty tradition: the thick, frozen custard at Frozen Dairy Bar. The specialty at this venerable establishment, which was once housed in a roadside stand, is Milwaukee-style custard, a treat that’s denser and softer than ice cream because it’s made with less air. Traditional flavors such as chocolate, vanilla or strawberry, as well as daily specials like dulce de leche or cake batter, go into packed cones, shakes, malts and Goosebumps (custard blends with candy pieces mixed in). Frozen Dairy Bar also offers house-made yogurt smoothies in flavors such as taro, coconut and horchata (a blend of rice milk and cinnamon). Pizza parties are popular here on weekends, and the grand finale is usually a custard cake made with a graham cracker or Oreo crust. Moolischious bars (chocolate-dipped custard on a stick) and Lazy Cows (custard sandwiches made with oversized Oreo rounds) are also available to go.
Frozen Dairy Bar & Boardwalk Pizza, 6641 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church; 703-534-4200, www.fdbpizza.com
This fall, Matchbox Food Group will open its newest outpost of Ted’s Bulletin, the popular retro brunch spot that’s known regionally for its homemade pop-tarts. While the menu may not say so, aficionados know that you can order the fabled toaster pastries à la mode. Popular combinations include strawberry with vanilla ice cream, chocolate Nutella with chocolate ice cream, and the peanut butter-bacon pop tart with vanilla. The trendy diner also serves shakes in a cornucopia of creative flavors, from the nonalcoholic “orange push-up” or “PBJ” to grown-up blends made with liqueur or schnapps.
Ted’s Bulletin Mosaic, coming soon to Strawberry Lane in the Mosaic District; tedsbulletincapitolhill.com
Hold the Cream
Looking for something on the lighter side? Pastry chef Stephanie Orantes has been experimenting with sorbets ever since she joined Clarendon’s Eventide restaurant in May 2012. Cooler months feature flavors such as citrus, rose water and Champagne, while summer brings mixed berry and melon. This season, be on the lookout for strawberry rhubarb and pluot, a plum-apricot hybrid.
Eventide Restaurant, 3165 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-276-3165, www.eventiderestaurant.com
Individuals who are lactose intolerant needn’t abstain from the frozen stuff at Northside Social. The coffee and wine bar offers house-made sorbets in flavors such as pear brandy and bittersweet chocolate, along with other dairy-free frozen treats, such as toasted almond ice “cream” made with almond milk. Pastry chef Bridie McCulla and her team produce new batches every few days, using local ingredients whenever possible. Want to take some home? You can buy 8-ounce cups or quarts to go, although they aren’t advertised. Just ask.
Northside Social, 3211 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-465-0145, northsidesocialarlington.com
You’ll find more than two dozen gelatos—both milk- and water-based—at Boccato Gelato in Clarendon. And while a cup, shake or cone is nice, the gelateria also offers all of its house-churned flavors with a caffeine kick. Order an affogato—your choice of gelato topped with a shot of Stumptown espresso—and choose among flavors such as salted caramel; dark chocolate sorbet; minty Oreo; or XXX (code for sinful), which combines five types of chocolate, nougat and almonds. Owner Cristian Velasco also whips up tropical flavors such as passion fruit; pineapple-basil; tamarind; guava; and guanabana (soursop), which is made with the fruit of an evergreen tree indigenous to the Caribbean and Central America.
Boccato Gelato & Espresso, 2719 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-869-6522, www.boccato.com
Need something to wash down that killer burger at Ray’s to the Third in Rosslyn? How about a boozy milkshake? Pennsylvania’s Turkey Hill ice cream plays a supporting role in these share-worthy frozen treats, which are made to order and fitted with thick straws so you don’t miss a drop. The three standard options are Cookie Monster (made with Bailey’s and Oreos), Foster Me Banana (dark rum and bananas) and the wildly popular Ricky Bobby, which blends bourbon and crisp bacon with vanilla ice cream, chocolate and caramel. Nonalcoholic shakes are also available.
Ray’s to the Third, 1650 Wilson Blvd, Arlington; 703-974-7171, www.raystothethird.com
Heavy Seas, the Baltimore-based brewery that opened an alehouse in Rosslyn earlier this year, prides itself on integrating beer into many of its dishes—including dessert. The brewpub gets weekly deliveries from Great Falls Ice Cream in Silver Spring, Md., and allows guests to do pour-overs with their favorite beers. Popular pairings include Peg Leg Imperial Stout with salted caramel and Framboise Lambic with vanilla. However, executive chef Matt Seeber cautions against IPAs. Why? Hops don’t play well with ice cream.
Heavy Seas Alehouse, 1501 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-879-4388, www.heavyseasalehouse.com/arlington
Jessica Strelitz is a Falls Church-based freelance writer whose husband and toddler son were thrilled to act as taste-testers while she researched this piece.