where to eat ice cream now

5 best new Houston restaurants and shops for cool and creative ice cream

5 best new Houston restaurants + shops for cool, creative ice cream

Bludorn ice cream cones
Bludorn's ice cream cones benefit a local non-profit. Photo by Michael Anthony
Craft Creamery 16 flavors
Craft Creamery serves 16 creative scoops. Photo by Stephanie Lam
Van Leeuwen ice cream sundae
Van Leeuwen has two Houston locations. Courtesy of Van Leeuwen
Bludorn ice cream cones
Craft Creamery 16 flavors
Van Leeuwen ice cream sundae

After a mostly rainy summer, Space City Weather predicts Houston is due for a blast of highs in the mid to upper 90s. That kind of heat calls for the sort of refreshment that only ice cream and other frozen treats can provide.

Thankfully, Houston’s culinary community has a few new options designed to provide some relief from the heat. From restaurants making their own flavors to two prominent national players that have recently entered the market, this list keeps things short and sweet.

Looking for more choices? This list from 2019 still holds up. 

Pastry Chef Alejandra Salas, a finalist for Pastry Chef of the Year in the 2021 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, has turned three of her signature desserts into ice cream cones. For example, Rocky Mountain reimagines Baked Alaska with chocolate ice cream, smoked marshmallows, chocolate chips, caramelized hazelnuts, and meringue, and the Strawberry Shortcake combines strawberry ice cream, confit strawberries, biscuit, Chantilly, and fresh strawberries. The third consists of corn ice cream, dulce de leche, cornflake crumble, and a corn cookie.

Bludorn will donate $1 from each $12 cone to the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the local non-profit that’s transforming a 10-mile stretch of Buffalo Bayou with parks, greenspace, trails, and other amenities.

Craft Creamery 
At this small shop in Montrose, chef Steve Marques serves small-batch, French-pot-method ice cream made with local ingredients. Old-school food obsessives will recognize Marques as the man behind the utterly fantastic milkshakes at the late, lamented The Burger Guys, but he also brings experience from restaurants such as Eunice and celebrity chef David Chang’s restaurants in Las Vegas. Craft Creamery serves 16 flavors that include classics like chocolate, pistachio, and coffee with more unusual options like cacio e pepe and shiro miso caramel.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams 
The Ohio-based scoop shop opened its second Houston-area location in CityCentre at the end of May. Known for its creative flavors, the shop features approximately two dozen selections such as Brown Butter Almond Brittle, dairy-free Dark Chocolate Truffle, and Buttercream Birthday Cake. Jeni’s "Fellowship Model" features partnerships with family-run dairies and farmers who grow the berries used in its pints.

Tiny Champions 
This second concept from the team behind Nancy’s Hustle has been earning raves for its pizza, pasta, and creative vegetable dishes, but diners should definitely save room for dessert. Pasty chef Julia Doran, a partner in the restaurant, has put her spin on creative scoops such as Mint Stracciatella and Cookies N Cream Sherry — both of which are available in pints to-go.

Those looking for dairy free options will find choices like Coconut Cardamon sorbet and peach sorbet. Topping such as hot fudge, peach caramel, and coconut crunch transform the scoops into fancy sundaes.

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
The Brooklyn-based ice cream shop has opened two Houston-area locations this summer in Rice Village and Uptown Park (grand opening Saturday, August 21). Known for its “French ice cream,” so labeled because it uses too much egg yolk to meet the FDA’s definition of “ice cream,’ Van Leeuwen’s flavors possess a toothsome quality that lingers on the palate. Each shop offers roughly 30 flavors split between dairy and vegan options, along with toppings, ice cream sandwiches, milkshakes, and more.

Uptown Park features a special horchata flavor created in collaboration with chef Hugo Ortega. It will only be available while supplies last.