What’s better than an ice cream cone (or ice cream sandwich or ice cream taco…) on a summer afternoon? (Answer: literally nothing.) Treat yourself (and your Instagram feed) to the most delicious scoops your city has to offer with our Localist guide to the best ice cream in Canada.
Where: 1141 Mainland St., madebymister.com
Atmosphere: Minimalism at its best — the focus is all on the ice cream
Number of flavours: 6
Most unusual flavour: Rose Pistashio
Don’t miss: The Crème Brulee
Average wait: Only a couple minutes
Average cost: $7 2. VANCOUVER
Rain or Shine
Where: 102-1926 West 4th Ave., rainorshineicecream.com
Atmosphere: Wooden tables and cool chandeliers make for a v. pretty space to eat ice cream!
Number of flavours: 11 plus five seasonal options
Most unusual flavour: Blueberry Balsamic
Don’t Miss: The London Fog
Average wait: 10 minutes
Average cost: $8 3. VANCOUVER
Where: 25 Alexander St., softpeaks.ca
Atmosphere: Warm and inviting, Soft Peaks serves up handcrafted soft serve twists with inventive toppings, as well as ice milk bars and milkshakes.
Number of flavours: 11
Most unusual flavour: Green Forest (matcha powder, sweet red beans and condensed milk on soft serve)
Don’t miss: The Honeycomb Peak, which is topped with an actual piece of local honeycomb
Average wait: Five minutes
Average cost: $6 4. VANCOUVER
Where: 1001 West Cordova St. and 1089 Marinaside Cres., bellagelateria.com
Atmosphere: Bright and fresh, with an impressive display of press clippings and awards on the walls
Number of flavours: 30 gelalo and sorbet options
Most unusual flavour: Akbar Mashti (saffron & rose water)
Don’t miss: The Chocolate Belgian Brownie
Average wait: 15-20 minutes, sometimes longer on hot days
Average cost: $8 5. VANCOUVER
Earnest Ice Cream
Where: 3992 Fraser St. and 1829 Quebec St., earnesticecream.com
Atmosphere: Hispter meeds modern with the ice cream with a chalkboard menu and marble counters
Number of flavours: 67, plus weekly specials
Most unusual flavour: Vegan Blueberry Lavender
Don’t miss: The Elderflower ice cream—so yummy!
Average wait: Five minutes
Average cost: $8 6. CALGARY
Village Ice Cream
Where: 431 10 Ave. SE, 820 49 Ave. SW and 2406 34 Ave. SW, villageicecream.com
Atmosphere: Modern and minimal with lots of sleek wood details. Their newest Garrison Corner location is the vision of local architecture firm McKinley Burkart, so a sure IG hit!
Number of flavours: 10 options plus four seasonal selections that change regularly
Most unusual flavour: Banana Oreo + Hibiscus
Don’t miss: Their famous Salted Caramel — but my personal favourite is anything with toasted coconut. Their waffles are made fresh in house, and if you’re lucky you’ll get one warm off the press.
Average wait: This is the most popular ice cream shop in town. You would think with three locations the lines would thin out, but nope. Sometimes it can take hours to get your ice cream craving satisfied here.
Average cost: $6 for a generous scoop in a waffle cone 7. CALGARY
My Favourite Ice Cream Shoppe
Where: 2048 42 Ave. SW, myfavoriteicecream.com
Atmosphere: Retro vibes with lots of kitchy wall decor and coin operated rides for kids
Number of flavours: 72 — there are fridges on top of fridges filled with ice cream
Most unusual flavour: Typical kid flavours like cotton candy and bubble gum — think of any bright colour and they will have a corresponding flavour
Don’t miss: Go all out and grab your ice cream in a blue cone, top it off with some of your favourite childhood flavours and grab some photos by the outside mural. This is the grand daddy of all Calgary ice cream shops. If you are planning a birthday, pick up a freshly made ice cream cake for $28.
Average wait: On a hot summer day the wait can get pretty long, but on most days you will get out of there with an ice cream in hand within 10 minutes.
Average cost: $4 for a single scoop 8. CALGARY
Made by Marcus
Where: 1013 17 Ave. SW, madebymarcus.ca
Atmosphere: Their brand new location is both rustic and chic
Number of flavours: Six pint flavours and four seasonal flavours
Most unusual flavour: Burnt Honey Rosemary
Don’t miss: The Waffle Milk Crunch — so simple yet so good!
Average wait: Nothing crazy here. A great spontaneous ice cream stop
Average cost: $8 pints, $17 pales, $5 bars (3 packs for $12), $6 for a scoop in a waffle cone 9. CALGARY
Calgary: Fiasco Gelato
Where: 221 19 St. SE, fiascogelatoshop.com
Atmosphere: Cool, colourful space with a newly opened sandwich and espresso bar, a big teal staircase and a window into their gelato production facility
Number of flavours: 16 plus a selection of exclusive seasonal pints
Most unusual flavour: Maple Whiskey Bacon
Don’t miss: The sundaes named after Drake lyrics ($1 from every sundae goes toward a meal share program)
Average wait: 10 minutes
Average cost: $5 10. CALGARY
Where: A roving truck that posts locations on its website, familyfreezed.com
Atmosphere: Fun, bright and cheerful — and always on the move
Number of flavours: More than 60 on the list, but only small batches sold at a time
Most unusual flavour: Mini Doughnuts, just in time for Stampede
Don’t miss: Their frozen fruit flavours are deliciously refreshing.
Average wait: Once you find them the wait is never too long
Average cost: $4 11. TORONTO
Seven Lives Paleteria
Where: 72 Kensington Ave., instagram.com/7lpaleteria
Atmosphere: Colourful and tropical — the hot pink and turquoise walls (complete with graffiti and traditional Mexican motifs) make for a perfect Instagram backdrop.
Number of flavours: There are eight ice cream flavours at a time (four vegan and four non) that change often. Their paletas (popsicles) come in 12 different flavours that also change. They’ve also got four types of Mexican-style ice cream floats.
Most unusual flavour: The staff vote was for the Pineapple Soft Serve made with Dole juice but I was eyeing the Fruit Loops paleta.
Don’t miss: The Horchata con Tuna. It was unlike anything I’ve ever had before: Prickly Pear & Tequila gelato with Horchata (a traditional homemade rice milk), topped with walnuts. It was light, delicious and refreshing on a hot day.
Average wait: Under five minutes
Average cost: $3 12. TORONTO
Eva’s Original Chimneys
Where: 454 Bloor St., originalchimneys.com
Atmosphere: As part of the Union Summer street market, the #OGchimney is located in a prime corner stall close to main entrance of Union Station. It’s a bustling area but the market — which has some seating, greenery and shade thanks to outdoor umbrellas — is quite serene.
Number of flavours: All cones are filled with Reid’s Dairy vanilla soft serve, with three options to enhance your cone flavour. For example, ‘Berrylicious’ adds Nutella and a local berry compote to your cone.
Most unusual flavour: Eva’s Apple Pie, which includes homemade apple preserves
Don’t miss: The main reason to go is to experience their Chimney Cones (aka “doughnut cones”) that are baked fresh right before your eyes and dusted with a delicious cinnamon sugar.
Average wait: A solid 30 minutes
Average cost: $10 13. TORONTO
Death in Venice
Where: 536 Queen St. W., deathinvenice.ca
Atmosphere: This gourmet gelato is made in-house at the Turkish bakery and coffee shop, Constantinople, on Queen West, all year round. The space is large and quite dark, but they’ve set up a gelato stand in the front window for easy and quick access to their tasty treats during the warmer months.
Number of flavours: Approximately 20-30, although they normally stock 12 flavours at a time, with two or three vegan options available.
Most unusual flavour: Chocolate Meal Worms (edible protein-packed worms) or Pigs Blood Chocolate Hazelnut
Don’t miss: Owner, chef and gelato maker Kaya Ogruce’s unusual ingredients shouldn’t put you off—because everything tastes incredible. The Thai Peanut Soy Fish flavour is eye-opening and mouth-watering.
Average wait: Under 5 minutes. Ice cream tubs are also available for home-delivery via Foodora.
Average cost: $4 for a scoop in a cup, $10 for a tub of any flavour 14. TORONTO
Where: 16 Vaughan Rd., booyah-inc.com
Atmosphere: Bright, clean and cute with shiny white tiles
Number of flavours: About 25
Most unusual flavour: Nothing crazy — Birthday Cake would be your wildest flavour choice here
Don’t miss: Their ice cream sandwiches made with fresh-baked cookies are amazing, but their ice cream tacos are not to be missed. You get three scoops plus whip cream, chocolate or caramel sauce and two extra toppings when you order the taco cone. You may or may not want to bring a friend to help tackle it.
Average wait: 10-15 minutes
Average cost: About $5 for a specialty ice cream sandwich 15. TORONTO
Where: 93 Ossington Ave., bangbangicecream.com
Atmosphere: Tiny and industrial but modern and cute. A white tiled wall area is stacked up to the sky-high ceiling with their top flavours, helping you to decide what you want while you’re waiting in line.
Number of flavours: Between 60-70. About five vegan options also available.
Most unusual flavour: Hard to say, this place is chock-full of interesting flavours to please the Toronto foodie scene! Look out for the Bellwoods Beer ‘n’ Brown Bread, Wasabi + Tahitian Vanilla, and Lychee with Raspberry Curd and Rosewater.
Don’t miss: The ice cream sandwiches, in decadent cookies, are bomb. Plus, you can order half a sandwich if you’re not up for the full thing—or want to try two different combinations of cookie and ice cream.
Average wait: Anywhere from 5 minutes (only ever happens mid day in the middle of the week) to over an hour on the weekends
Average cost: Under $6 for a double scoop or half ice cream sandwich 16. MONTREAL
Where: 1311, Ave. Bernard O., 1600 Laurier E. and 4864 Rue Sherbrooke O., bilboquet.ca
Atmosphere: All three locations are similar: welcoming with a charming vintage vibe
Number of flavours: More than 20 ice cream flavours and around 15 sorbet choices
Most unusual flavour: This spot is known all around Montreal for have amazing classics with a twist. The Cookie Dough and Rhum-Grapes flavours are delish.
Don’t miss: The Mango-Coco sorbet — you won’t find anything else like it in the city
Average wait: Depends on the location, but allow yourself a good 15 minutes
Average cost: Under $10 for two scoops 17. MONTREAL
Where: 1300 Avenue Laurier E.
Atmosphere: When you have some of the best ice cream in town, there’s no need for distractions. This place is simple, welcoming and has a few benches outside for you to enjoy your treat.
Number of flavours: More than 30
Most unusual flavour: The Espresso or Marron—both delish
Don’t miss: The soft serve dipped in sprinkles
Average wait: No long waits here, there is rarely a line
Average cost: Under $10 for two scoops in a fresh cone 18. MONTREAL
Where: 60 Avenue Fairmount O., kemcoba.com
Atmosphere: A cute pink and green place with colourful benches
Number of flavours: More than 20 (and so hard to choose!)
Most unusual flavour: Nothing too unusual, but the Coconut-Mango and Strawberry Cheesecake Twirl are pretty special
Don’t miss: The Twirl of the Day, which is always different, and the best in town
Average wait: If it is a hot, summer day, prepare for at least 30 minutes
Average cost: Around $8 for a medium cup with two flavours 19. MONTREAL
Where: 68 Ave des Pins E., facebook.com/ladiperie
Atmosphere: All blue and super mellow
Number of flavours: Around 10, with more than 15 toppings
Most unusual flavour: La Diperie is all about mix and matches, so you can go very wild with your choices. It was the first time I saw a Nacho topping, and I’m sure the mix of sweet and salty is amazing.
Don’t miss: The pretzel-dipped cone
Average wait: Unlike other places, the wait is not too long and the opening hours are great
Average cost: Around $7. Bring cash! 20. MONTREAL
Where: Announcing reopening date and new location soon, facebook.com/Pandancreamery
Atmosphere: Well-branded with a huge brick wall
Number of flavours: More than 10 choices of rolled-up ice cream, which consists of an ice-cream base and add-ins like cookies or fruit. The mix is poured on a cold plate and then rolled. So fun to watch!
Most unusual flavour: Matcha and Pandan (the leaf after which the shop is named), plus homemade toppings add personality to your cup
Don’t miss: This place is all about the roll-ups, inspired by a Thai dessert
Average wait: Since the place is brand new, no wait for now, but it’s guaranteed to get uber popular
Average cost: Under $10 for a cup of amazingness 21. HALIFAX
Where: 1451 South Park St., humanitea.com
Atmosphere: Bright, airy and fun—with a hint of a traditional Persian tea house setting. Think velvet couches, lime green chairs and vibrant blue walls.
Number of flavours: They serve homemade gelato and sorbetto (no dairy included, it is virtually fat-free and vegan-friendly!) with about 12-15 flavours on rotation daily. They’ve come up with over 300 recipes, so you’re sure to be surprised every visit!
Most unusual flavour: Orange Fennel, Persian Rose, Sweet Potato Pie, Ginger Green Tea, Avocado Coconut, Lime Chili Coconut Curry and many many more.
Don’t miss: Their affogato (a great way to get your sweet and caffeine kick all in one go—they add espresso to any flavour of gelato, but I usually stick with good old vanilla). They also dish out gelato cookie sandwiches, profiterole sandwiches and gelato cakes.
Average wait: 5 minutes, tops!
Average cost: $10 for one to four flavours in a cone or a cup 22. HALIFAX
Halifax: Dee Dee’s Ice Cream
Where: 5668 Cornwallis St., deedees.ca
Atmosphere: A family-run joint reminiscent of an old-fashioned diner and ice cream parlour combined into one
Number of flavours: 15-20 made-in-house offerings with a few classics and some newer experiments. My favourites include the Arctic Kiwi Sorbet, Lemon Ginger and Haskap Berry.
Most unusual flavour: Curry Cashew — I have yet to try this one but it’s supposed to be delish!
Don’t miss: Their insanely scrumptious ice cream cakes
Average wait: About 5 minutes
Average cost: Under $10 23. HALIFAX
Where: The Alderney Market (Saturdays), Shubie Park (Thursday–Sunday). Delivery is available 24 hours a day, lemondogs.ca
Atmosphere: A small, local company that sets up camp at parks, food festivals and markets
Number of flavours: Always changing
Most unusual flavour: Nothing crazy here, but with new sundaes and paleta pops to try every week (the Passionfruit Coconut paleta is amazing), you’ll always have something new to try.
Don’t miss: Their fizzy lemonade floats — as tasty as they sound
Average wait: 10 minutes
Average cost: $3–5. Or you can order a subscription for $20 and under. 24. HALIFAX
Benny’s Ice Cream Truck
Where: Roaming throughout Halifax, bennysicecreamtruck.com
Atmosphere: A bright blue truck bringing feelings of childhood nostalgia on a hot summer day
Number of flavours: Over 40 new and old-fashioned flavours—with recipes that borrow elements of traditional Nova Scotian and Acadian cuisine.
Most unusual flavour: Try Moonmist on a homemade waffle cone–a tricoloured pastel ice cream with a mix of grape, banana and bubblegum flavours that originated in the Atlantic region.
Don’t miss: Choclatine sundae — a warm buttered croissant with hot fudge and chocolate ganache over Death by Chocolate ice cream.
Average wait: 5-10 minutes
Average cost: $4–$5 25. HALIFAX
Halifax: Dairy Bar by Manual Food & Drink Co.
Where: 1485 South Park St., manualfoodanddrinkco.com/dairy-bar
Atmosphere: Only here for the summer season, this dairy bar operates out of a drive-thru trailer alongside Stillwell’s outdoor beer garden
Number of flavours: Two to three rotating soft serve flavours daily
Most unusual flavour: Black sesame and mango
Don’t miss: Their sundaes are to die for — quirky combinations and deliciousness in every bite! Try the Lemon Chamomile (vanilla bean soft serve with buttermilk cake, lemon curd, chamomile and violets) or the Cheat Day (chocolate soft serve, malted chocolate sauce, potato chips, pretzels, krispies and whoppers).
Average wait: About 5-10 minutes, but go early or they’ll run out
Average cost: $4-7