Toronto ice cream enjoyed on a hot summer day is purse bliss!
Looking for sweet shops and pretty parlours to spoon through the best Toronto ice cream?
Our comprehensive guide to Toronto ice cream shops features the best places in the city to enjoy sweet scoops, soft serve, gelato, sorbet and granita.
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Best Toronto Ice Cream & Gelato
So where does one find the best Toronto ice cream? That entirely depends on your flavour and style preferences of course!
After spending 9 months sampling over 50 ice cream shops in Toronto we’ve crafted a list of the city’s best. You’ll find locals lining up at these finger-licking-good businesses, which are located across Toronto’s colourful neighbourhoods.
Lick your cone clean from gelato shops in Little Italy, a slew of Asian-inspired flavours on Queen Street West and classic parlours in Yorkville, King West and Ossington.
So what did we learn about Toronto’s best ice cream options?
The city’s diversity is its strength! Toronto offers authentic Italian gelato and sorbet, plenty of Asian concepts featuring red bean paste and matcha flavours, chocolatiers offering premium product and fine dining restaurants serving Instagram-worthy scoops.
Brett’s Ice Cream
3148 Kingston Road, 416-691-4111
Brett’s Ice Cream is a popular Toronto parlour which originally opened near Woodbine Beach in The Beaches neighbourhood. Brett’s is now located on Kingston Road in Scarborough.
Brett’s Ice Cream scoops 30 flavours, 16 at a time, with a new feature flavour every week. It offers artisanal Konery cones from Brooklyn and Belly Ice Cream from Muskoka.
Popular ice cream flavours at Brett’s include Wild Blueberry Cheesecake, Cinnamon Bun, Chocolate Dipped Strawberry and Garden Mint Chip.
Brett’s is one of the best Toronto ice cream shops for those with food intolerances as they have several creative gluten free and dairy free options.
Beyond ice cream, Brett’s menu also offers sundaes, ice pops, milkshakes, sorbet soda, coffee, tea, smoothies, and fresh pastries like donuts and cookies.
250 Queens Quay W, 647-717-9848
Our favourite Toronto summer tradition is strolling along the city’s lakeside Harbourfront neighbourhood while licking an ice cream cone.
Ice Creamonology is located a stones throw from Queens Quay and the Harbourfront Centre. It’s the best Ice Cream parlour to enjoy a cone after getting off the Toronto Island Ferry. The perfect post-beach day treat.
The ice cream shop is incredibly popular, consistently featuring a long line that snakes down the street. The wait is well worth it!
Out front you find a few patio tables while inside it’s standing room only, enough space for 3-4 people to ooh and ahh over the days ice cream flavour options.
Waffle cones are made in house, popular flavours like hazelnut and pistachio feature house ground nuts rather than lower quality pastes. You can also pick up pre packaged pints, which we suggest sharing with your sweetie on a romantic date night.
Our favourite flavours at Ice Creamonology include Turkish Coffee, Black Sea Tea, Blueberry Cheesecake and Raspberry Sorbet.
Beaches N’ Cream
2075 Queen St E, 416-690-3030
Beaches N’ Cream is a gelato shop located right on Woodbine Beach in Toronto’s East End.
The wildly popular ice cream shop gets packed in the summer when locals and tourists flock here to sun tan and swim on Lake Ontario.
Beaches N’ Cream is located right on the Woodbine Beach boardwalk at Kew Beach. You’ll find a huge outdoor patio under old growth trees so plenty of shade to enjoy an ice cream cone when going on a beach stroll.
Skip inside the pet friendly Toronto ice cream shop and you’ll find many flavours of gelato, sorbet and soft serve options as well. Parked outside is a food truck serving summer classics like burgers, chicken fingers, poutine and sausages.
The Lansdowne Cone
555 Dundas St E, 647-296-4552
The Lansdowne Cone is a purpose driven social enterprise. The unique Toronto ice cream business seeks to empower individuals with social and developmental barriers to employment by creating training and job opportunities in a supportive, community based environment.
Owner Denise Soueidan-O’Leary explains the history of The Lansdowne Cone, ” I bought it for myself for my 30th birthday in 2014! The parlour was given its name by the former owners who were inspired by its location. We have kept it, as a shout out to the Bloordale neighbourhood. The Lansdowne Cone first opened in 2012 but I turned it into a social enterprise in 2015.”
In 2020 The Lansdowne Cone moved into Regent Park; sharing a space with Paintbox Bistro. Denise is thrilled to be in yet another vibrant neighbourhood in the city, and able to continue the work as a community hub.
So what inspired Denise to open a Toronto Ice Cream Parlour? “I worked for nearly a decade running residential treatment homes for youth with disabilities. I worked predominantly with boys, 18-24 years old with brain based disabilities like Autism and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. In working with these individuals, the biggest struggle was supporting them in employment settings. As charming young men, they could get jobs, but with a steep learning curve and a lack of support they really struggled to keep jobs. It was so hard to offer support in a traditional job environment,” she says.
Denise adds, “When the parlour came up for sale, offered to me over beers with a friend one night, I saw the perfect opportunity to design a platform that could offer job skills development in a supportive and community based environment. We use a 1:1 mentorship model where our employment trainees are in a paid role, and have the support of a staff with them at all times. The program has been exceptionally successful over 4 years creating 20 paid positions, and more than 50 unpaid training opportunities in partnership with the Geneva Centre for Autism, the Ynge Street Mission, and Montage Support Services.”
Toronto’s favourite feel-good ice cream shop works with local producers to support other small businesses and lower its carbon footprint. Denise explains, “Our ice pops are produced 15 mins up the road while our vegan ice cream is made in Durham Region. We do our best to offer a unique product offering. We carry vegan, gluten free and kosher ice cream options.”
Committed to unique ice cream experiences the top selling ice cream flavours at The Lansdowne Cone in Regent Park include Chicago Mix Ice Cream, St Jacobs Apple Pie, Peanut Butter Mud Puddle, Salty Caramel and Toasted S’mores. In August, 2020 they became the exclusive Toronto release site for Pickle Ice Cream!
780 Queen St W, 416-203-2009
Looking to rest and relax with a sweet snack at Toronto’s favourite park? Nadege Patisserie on Queen Street West offers French sweets and quality ice cream parlour overlooking Trinity Bellwoods Park.
Chef and owner Nadège Nourian opened the eponymous shop in 2009, soon expanding the French bakery brand to Nadege Summerhill.
Skip inside the Nadege flagship cafe on Queen West and you’ll find endless rows of quality chocolates, mountains of macarons and postcard-perfect cakes and flaky pastries. During the festive holiday season, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, Nadege Patisserie is known for crafting some of Toronto’s best gift baskets.
The Nadege Ice Cream Shop is located beside the main cafe and can be accessed through a separate entrance, conveniently located at the entrance to Trinity Bellwoods Park.
The Nadege Ice Cream Shop is open seasonally, typically opening in May and closing before Thanksgiving.
Skip inside the popular west end Toronto ice cream parlour and you’ll find macaron ice cream sandwiches, freshly made waffle cones and a parade of decadent ice creams and sorbets. Dessert lovers can also opt to take their favourite flavours home as $14 take out pints.
The French inspired ice creams and sorbets include popular flavours such as Lemon Cheesecake, Pur Noir, Pistachio Raspberry, Salted Caramel and Marie Antoinette, topped with a rainbow of crunchy macarons.
Scooped by Demetres
46 Gristmill Lane, 416-988-2482
Beloved dessert brand Demetres recently opened an ice cream shop entirely dedicated to artisanal scoops that have historically adorned their waffle and crepe menu.
The brand is one of Toronto’s most recognizable dessert brands, featuring 11 locations across the GTA. Demetres has been making craft ice cream since they first opened on the Danforth in 1989.
The first two Scooped by Demetres concepts opened at Fort York Boulevard and Distillery District at the start of summer 2021.
A decadently rich, high butterfat dairy is used to create the based for the ice cream at all Demetre’s locations. The ice cream, as well as a few vegan sorbets, come in over 20 flavours like dark chocolate cherry, melon mint, cajeta swirled goat cheese, roses of paradise, lemon curd blueberry, caramelized white chocolate and coconut lime sorbetto.
Order your scoops in a cup or waffle cone or grab a pint to take home. There’s also a five scoop flight for those keen to share with friends.
5359 Yonge St, 416-792-8876
Kekou Gelato originally opened on the corner of Spadina Avenue and Queen Street, beside Bahn Mi Boys. The parlour has since moved to Yonge Street in North York.
Kekou Gelato House was originally introduced to Toronto ice cream fans as a tiny seasonal parlour in Baldwin Village. Kekou’s early popularity helped spawn its bigger, year-round location.
The Kekou ice cream menu features unique Asian-inspired flavours such as soursop, durian, roasted oolong, Vietnamese coffee and peanut sesame. There are also plenty of vegan options such as dark chocolate cherry, strawberry sake and osmanthus plumb berry sorbet.
While scooped premium gelato is the main event here, you’ll also find ice cream bars, popsicles, homemade sodas, cookies and bubble tea.
6 Charles Street East, No phone
In June, 2019 Nani’s Gelato was launched by owner Parry Sohi as a mobile gelato food truck. The brands brick and mortar shop officially opened its doors May, 2020 in downtown Toronto near Yorkville.
Sohi shared, “I would make everything from scratch daily in a commercial kitchen I built in Mississauga, put everything on my food truck and drive downtown Toronto all day serving customers. The food truck really helped me build a customer base across the city.”
The name Nani means grandmother in Punjabi. Sohi shared the inspiration behind the name, “We make everything onsite, from scratch using fresh ingredients – the same way I grew up watching my mother and grandmother cook.”
So what made Sohi fall in love with gelato and ice cream? “Growing up my dad had a small soft serve ice cream shop and I’ve always loved the simplicity of the concept. When I exited my last business, I knew I wanted to so something in food. I was looking for a simple, clean concept that wouldn’t require a huge food print or massive amounts of staff. The concept in combination for my love for all frozen desserts drove me to begin training in hard ice cream and gelato,” said Sohi.
The Nani’s Gelato owner first trained at the University of Wisconsin then under an Italian gelato chef in the US that taught him how to make fresh gelato without using any flavoured pastes, flavoured powders or artificial ingredients.
Sohi’s Indian heritage shines through on the Nani’s Gelato menu board. Popular flavours include Malai Kulfi (pistachio, almond, cardamom), Mango Lassi (Alphonso mango puree, yogurt, cinnamon, cardamom) and Cashew Kulfi (cashew butter, cardamom, condensed milk, cinnamon).
Flavours at Nani’s Gelato change every Monday. Beyond soft serve and gelato cups & cones, Toronto ice cream lovers can can purchase pints to take home.
120 Dundas St W, 416-971-8686
Butter Baker is located in downtown Toronto on Dundas Street West near Bay Street. The popular Toronto ice cream stop also has a location in Markham.
Butter Baker Pastry Chefs Tina and Chef Lucas first opened their Dundas West bakery in 2017. The duo pride themselves on producing classic French baked goods such as flaky croissants, butter brioche, creamy danishes, crunchy cookies and an impressive choir of cakes.
Butter Baker is perhaps most famous on Instagram for its signature soft serve ice cream offerings. Waffle cones are piped with a soft serve duo typically featuring Tahitian vanilla and a seasonal flavour of the month. In July, bright orange mango sorbet offers a refreshing snack on a hot summer day.
Or, if spooning through a cup is more your thing, enjoy the chocolate lovers decadent Baker’s Tiramisu Sundae.
265 Queen Street West, 647-348-3846
Fugo Desserts is a tiny dessert shop which originally opened on Dundas Street West near University Avenue. It is now located on Queen Street West.
The popular sweet shop specializes in serving creative ice cream cones, gourmet mini donuts and specialty coffee and tea.
Fugo owners Jethro Kwan and Jie Dai offer playful Asian-inspired ice cream that is both scoopable and soft serve. During our visit in the summer popular ice cream scoops included Cookie Monster (a blue-tinged take on classic Cookies & Cream), Skor Brownie, Wildberry Mochi, London Fog, Milk Tea, Thai Tea, Malt-Teaser and Dalgona Sponge Toffee.
Soft serve Toronto ice cream lovers should order one of Fugo Desserts’ specialty sundaes such as Tropical Paradise, Good Morning Vietnam and Bangkok Tiger.
443 King St W, 416-599-7662
Soma Chocolate is owned by David Castellan and Cynthia Leung and first opened in Toronto in 2003.
Leung explains the brands name, “We are a chocolate maker that also spins gelato. Soma means food of the Gods in Sanskrit and the Latin name for cacao also means food of the Gods.”
Leung describes the Toronto chocolate shops love for ice cream, “David is Italian, gelato is in his bloodline. He was the executive pastry chef at Oliver & Bonacini at Canoe and made gelato for their restaurants.”
Soma is soon to open a chocolate factory in Parkdale, which will spin gelato a-la-minute in tiny batches spun freshly and served right away. The top selling flavours at Soma Chocolate in Toronto include Triple Chocolate, Thai Coconut, Ontario Peach, Roasted Hazelnut and Blueberry Basil.
Delight Ice Cream and Chocolates
3040 Dundas St W, 416-760-9995
The folks at La Fromagerie in The Junction also run the shop next door, offering a slice of nirvana to local sweet teeth. It’s at Delight Ice Cream and Chocolates where you’ll find homemade marshmallows, a glass case filled with cookies, squares and chocolates and frigid freezer where seasonal scoops are served up on crunchy cones.
Delight Ice Cream and Chocolates is owned by husband and wife team Jennifer Rashleigh and Jeff Brown. The duo first opened their chocolate shop and ice cream parlour in 2007.
Brown explains their ice cream offering, “As Jennifer is a chocolatier we needed something to balance our business model as chocolate is mostly popular in the winter months. l always loved the idea of owning an ice cream shop so this gave me the perfect opportunity to indulge my passion for frozen deserts.”
The top selling ice creams at Delight Ice Cream and Chocolates in Toronto include Chocolate, Ontario Strawberry, Market Monkey (bananas, coconut milk, peanut butter and chocolate chips), Melted Toffee Caramel and The Junction Junk Yard.
717 Bay St, 1-877-599-4438 // 372 Danforth Ave, 416-901-7130 // 3264 Yonge St, 647-461-8542
La Diperie is a playful ice cream parlour concept from Montreal. In Toronto, La Diperie now has three ice cream shops located on Bay Street, Danforth Avenue and Yonge Street.
The ice cream shop interiors are painted a cutesy Tiffany blue and feature black boards that outline La Diperie’s unique menu. Toronto ice cream lovers can enjoy a small selection of scooped ice cream but La Diperie’s main attraction is its dipped soft serve.
Guests first select the size of vanilla soft serve they’d like to enjoy and then choose from over 20 choco dip flavours including Dulche de Leche, Praline, Red Velvet, Green Tea, Tiramisu, Activated Charcoal, Cheesecake and Strawberry Cream.
Immediately after the cone can be rolled in a selection of toppings for just 65 cents. Popular toppings include cotton candy, pretzels, crushed Oreo, gummy bears and roasted hazelnuts. Not in the ice cream mood (and we couldn’t understand why?), La Diperie also offers dip-able brownie cake, cheesecake, banana, rice krispy square, marshmallows and crepes.
36 Vaughan Rd, 416-656-6959
Husband and wife team Theo and Dina Aben are the owners of Dutch Dreams. The popular Toronto ice cream parlour most certainly wins top prize for the best decorated exterior. Skip over to Dutch Dreams and you’ll find a spacious outdoor patio, which sits below an eye-popping brick wall. The parlour’s exterior is covered in oversized ice cream sculptures, a green painted cow, Dutch window shutters and a replica of Popeye’s love interest, Olive Oil.
Dina explains the ice cream shops name, “Dutch Dreams was inspired by the fact that we are originally from Holland and our dream was to open an ice cream business.” The family-friendly ice cream parlour originally opened in May 1985, the day that the Canadian army liberated Holland during WWII.
Theo was originally taught by his father on how to make ice cream and later graduated from Penn State University’s ice cream program. Dina adds, “Everything we serve at Dutch Dreams is unique, from our hand rolled and dipped waffle cones to our sundaes, crepes and waffles.”
Dutch Dreams also prepares unique ice cream flavours only available in Toronto such as New York Cherry Cheesecake, Elie’s Treasure Chest, Drake’s Peanut Butter Chocolate, and Toronto Traffic Jam.
16 Vaughan Rd A, 647-347-2001
Located a stones throw from Dutch Dreams on Vaughan Road, Booyah is a family-run Toronto ice cream shop owned by Blair Mincer.
Booyah opened in the Spring of 2015 when Mincer was still in business school at Western University. Mincer was looking to start a seasonal business, “and who doesn’t love ice cream?”
The first two seasons, Booyah served Kawartha Dairy ice cream. Mincer explains, “After our second season I starting studying ice cream technology and the science behind it. I read multiple books and bought my first batch freezer. Every year I develop more and more flavours. The ice cream we make is very high in quality (high in fat, lower in sugar) and it only contains 3 ingredients.
Booyah has some funky flavours that are served on rotation, with staple flavours that are always available. The top selling ice creams at Booyah in Toronto include Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Earl Grey Tea, Toasted Marshmallow and Peanut Butter & Jelly. Booyah also prepares gourmet cookies in house and specializes in ice cream sandwiches.
510 Yonge St, 647-341-0088
Located in the heart of Toronto’s Gay Village, T-Swirl Crepe specializes in Japanese-style sweet and savoury crepes. T-Swirl Crepe starts its journey in Tokyo but was formerly established in New York City.
The quick service restaurant on Yonge Street is one of our favourite spots downtown to grab a crepe cone to go. Each crepe is served in a handy paper cone, so you’re fingers don’t get messy as you eat your meal while marching through the city.
The brands crepes are prepared with a gluten-free 100% rice flour batter, which are wrapped around savoury snacks or ice cream topped sweet treats. Looking for a quick lunch or dinner? T-Swirl Crepe in Toronto offers mouth-watering menu items featuring chicken teriyaki, smoked salmon, shrimp avocado and angus short rib.
The Toronto crepe restaurant’s bestselling ice cream options include Matcha Azuki Bean, Blueberry NY Cheesecake and Chocolate Nut Party.
Ed’s Real Scoop
920 Queen St E, 416-406-2525 // 189 Roncesvalles Ave, 416-531-3113 // 2224 Queen St E, 416-699-6100
Ed’s Real Scoop owner Ed Francis opened his beloved ice cream shop in Toronto in 2000 and today the local brand has grown to include three parlours located in Leslieville, Roncesvalles and The Beaches. Ed describes why his business initially boomed, “It turned out that the year 2000 was about the time that people, especially young people, were becoming interested in quality vs quantity. In those days, almost no one was considered a foodie, today they are everywhere.”
Ed explains, “My initial plan was to call it the Real Scoop because I wanted to make the best ice cream possible using only real ingredients – real fruit, real cream and milk, really good European chocolate, with no flavourings or additives. A good friend who was in marketing suggested adding Ed’s because it is a local business and it would give it more of a tie-in to the community.”
Ed grew up in Ohio and had a mother with six children, a sweet tooth, and not much money, so she made all kinds of treats including ice cream at home. Ed adds, “I grew to love ice cream a lot! In the early 70’s, I moved to Boston for work. Near my apartment, a guy named Steve Herrell opened the first homemade ice cream store in Toronto – he actually made the ice cream in the window. I went there often and thought it was a great concept but I was in the computer business and thought, ‘what do I know about ice cream retail?’
Years later, Ed married a Canadian and moved to Toronto. He continues, “I eventually got bored with my job and kept thinking about that ice cream store. Since I lived in The Beaches area and there were no really good ice cream stores, I decided to give it a try. I made ice cream, fudge, and chocolates at home using old recipes, and I had my neighbours try it all. Eventually I went to an ice cream and gelato school in America. It was taught by an Italian named Luciano Ferarri who is well known in the world of gelato.”
The top selling ice creams at Ed’s Real Scoop in Toronto include Burnt Marshmallow Ice Cream, Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Ice Cream, Pistachio Gelato, French Mint Ice Cream and Tanzanian Dark Chocolate Gelato.
Funnel Cake Express
Funnel Cake Express is a popular dessert concept in Toronto that specializes in serving theme park and carnival favourite, finger-licking-good funnel cakes.
The shareable dessert features a crunchy and chewy donut batter, deep fried into a circular disk. The sweet treat is then topped with soft serve ice cream and a variety of toppings such as strawberries or crushed Oreos.
Funnel Cake Express first launched in 2005 as a food truck concept by owner Anthony Mazzaferro. The dessert brand quickly developed a following after serving thousands of funnel cakes at Ribfests, carnivals and concerts.
You’ll find Funnel Cake Express food trucks across Toronto as they no longer have a brick and mortar store near Wellesley Station.
Wong’s Ice Cream
617 Gerrard St E, 416-778-8883
Consistently ranked as one of the best Toronto ice cream parlours, Wong’s Ice Cream specializes in making Asian-themed treats including vegan and gluten-free flavours.
Owner Ed Wong first opened his ice cream shop in June, 2017 near Riverdale Park on Gerrard Street East. After spending decades working in the corporate world, Wong spent 2 years co-running Hamilton’s Henry Brown’s Small Batch Ice Cream Company.
Now Wong has a namesake Toronto ice cream parlour to call his own. Wong explains, “I wanted people to know it was owner-operated and to signal that we do Asian-inspired flavours.”
Wong’s Ice Cream also sells a few Asian snacks and grocery items as well as a colourful display of ONYX Chocolates, hand crafted in store. The freezer is filled with ice cream flavours that are pre-packaged in Chinese takeout containers.
Wong adds, “I lived in Leslieville when we opened and it was my desire to invest in my community specifically, and in the East End of Toronto. Ice cream was always a hobby of mine at home but I’ve also taken some courses on commercial ice cream making from PreGel Canada.”
The top selling flavours at Wong’s Ice Cream in Toronto include Black Sesame Salted Duck Egg, White Rabbit Candy Ice Cream, Coconut Mango Sticky Rice, Blond Kinako Brown Butter and Vietnamese Coffee.
Wong’s Ice Cream closed its bricks and mortar store on Gerard Street and recently announced a collaboration with Basil Box.
362 King St E, 416-368-8188
Roselle Desserts is owned by husband and wife team Stephanie Duong and Bruce Lee. The name of the popular Toronto pastry shop was inspired by a tool used to make crepes.
Roselle Desserts first opened in February, 2015 a dream for the couple who were keen to open a pastry shop after spending time working in France and Hong Kong.
It wasn’t until later in the summer of 2015 they first introduced their popular seasonal soft serve ice cream. Duong explains, “Since it’s launch, our Earl Grey soft serve has garnered quite a devoted following. We offer it as is, a creamy, tea-based soft serve ice cream, or customers can choose to “next level” their order. By doing so, we’ll pipe in lemon cream, add some crispy white chocolate pearls and garnish it with one of our mini earl grey shortbread to complete the experience.”
While Roselle is best known for its Earl Grey soft serve ice cream, the Toronto pastry shop has also served buttermilk soft serve with fresh Ontario strawberries and vanilla soft serve with Niagara peaches.
Futura Granita + Gelato
964 St Clair Ave W, 647-812-2131
Futura Granita + Gelato first opened in September, 2019 on St. Clair Avenue West and is owned by Lois Kim and Carlo Diano.
Diano explains the Toronto gelato shops unique name, “Lois’ background is in graphic design, and Futura is a famous typeface. In addition, Futura is a song by an Italian singer/songwriter named Lucio Dalla who is from Bologna, where we learned the craft of gelato and granita-making. So Futura is a nod to Lois’ trade, and to the place where it all began.”
So what inspired the duo to open a gelato shop in Toronto? Diano explains, “One of our favourite things to do when we travel to Southern Italy is head to the local places that serve granita and enjoy the refreshing flavours under the hot sun. Once Lois and I decided that we really wanted to build a business together, we knew that granita was the way to go. Not too many places offer granita in Toronto, and we thought that it is a product that deserves more exposure. Toronto is a great city for granita because it’s surrounded by the amazing fruitlands of the Niagara region.”
The owners of Futura Granita gained their skills at Carpigiani Gelato University just outside of Bologna. Granita is a semi-frozen specialty typical of the Eastern part of Sicily and the Southern portion of Calabria that is made with fruit, water and sugar. It has a consistency that is similar to that of sorbet, but it is not as dense or compact, and not as sweet.
Diano continues, “Granita is a very seasonal product that we make during the hotest months of the year using fresh fruit. Because of it’s seasonality, we also make gelato throughout the year.” The top selling flavours at Futura Granita in Toronto include Niagara Strawberry, Niagara Peach and Sicilian almond.
697 College St, 416-915-0756 // 234 Augusta Ave, 416-519-9995 // 414 Danforth Ave, 416-546-2148
Dolce Gelato Cafe in Toronto first opened in Little Italy in June, 2006. The popular Toronto gelato shop is owned by Pino and Ivonne Luca, a happily married Italian and Ecuadorean couple. Dolce Gelato Cafe now offers two sister locations in Kensington Market on August Avenue and in Greek Town on The Danforth.
So where does the Toronto gelato shops name come from? Ivonne explains, “We knew we wanted to sell something sweet. So inspired by the origin of gelato and Pino’s Italians roots we decided to name the business Dolce.”
The top selling flavours at Dolce Gelato Cafe include Lemon and Persil, Chocolate and Chilli, Three Leches, Whisky Cake and Brigadeiro.
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The Big Chill
566 College St, 416-960-2455
Located a short stroll from Dolce Gelato on College Street in Toronto’s Little Italy, The Big Chill offers an old-fashioned retro ice cream parlour vibe. Owner Sam Santino opened the popular Toronto ice cream shop in 2001, in a space that was once an old shoe repair shop.
Step inside The Big Chill and you’ll find checkered floors paired with a brightly lit interior adorned with a dizzying number of holstein cows.
The Big Chill is open year-round and serves 30 flavours of ice cream, which can be topped with over 20 fixins. The waffle cones are made freshly before your eyes, or splurge on a banana split or Belgian waffle.
The College Street ice cream parlour is a favourite for families in the summer as picnic tables stand perched below the buildings colourful graffiti adorned brick wall.
831 Queen St W, 647-505-3777
If you’re talking about the trendiest ice cream shops in Toronto, iHalo Krunch most certainly finds itself at the top of the list. The eye-catching design of this neon glowing Queen West ice cream parlour had a line snaking out its doors ever since it first opened.
iHalo Krunch launched just as the activated charcoal craze hit the food world. Thanks to the ice cream shops dramatic cone and ice cream colours, it became one of the most Instagrammed dishes in Toronto.
iHalo’s dark black charcoal and chocolate cones are filled with liquid marshmallow to ensure the ice cream doesn’t drop all over your hands. Fans can choose from four Asian-inspired flavours: purple Ube, black coconut charcoal, green Japanese matcha and white Madagascar vanilla.
Toronto’s first charcoal ice cream shop now has locations in High Park, Danforth, Vaughan Mills and Oshawa Centre.
283 Rushton Rd, No Phone
Ice cream aficionado’s in Toronto rave for Bar Ape. The tiny ice cream shop opened in 2016 after serving cups of creative soft serve via a food truck for two years.
Owners James Carnevale and Nick Genova explain the name, “It’s based off of our original idea and starting point, outfitting a Piaggio Ape to sell gelato out of. It was a small mobile gelato bar that sold gelato bars. Now we focus on our brick and mortar shop, but we still keep the name to pay homage to the truck that started our whole venture.”
So where did the duo hone their ice cream making skills? Carnevale explains, “James worked for several gelato shops in the city and basically ran one location for years. During that time, he formed his own recipes and started drift away from the person he was working for.”
Bar Ape can offer an astonishing 70 flavours in the span of one summer. Carnevale explains, “At this point our name has essentially become synonymous with gelato bars and gelato soft serve, because nobody else was really doing it at the time in Toronto.”
While Bar Ape’s flavours are constantly changing, Canrevale shares some of his favourites such as Saffron, Anise & Almond, Bronte Pistachio, Ontario Cantaloupe, and Classic Orange Cream.
928 Dundas St W, No Reservations Walk-in Only
Bar Vendetta opened its doors in September, 2019 in the old Black Hoof location on Dundas Street West. Celebrated Toronto restauranteur Jen Agg (Rhum Corner, Black Hoof, Le Swan, Grey Gardens) has given the restaurant space a head to toe makeover. The interior now offers a playful retro theme featuring browns, oranges and white cream.
You’ll also find a Debbie Harry poster over the 15-seat bar and a soundtrack of golden oldies. Agg offers a wink to the Toronto restaurants name with a pair of murals depicting Mad Magazine’s Spy vs Spy. The mischievous black and white cartoon twins enact a wine-themed murder plot from the dining room to the back patio.
The menu at Bar Vendetta switches up three times a day. From 3-5pm the kitchen serves Muffeletta sandwiches, midnight to 2am you can grab a platter of dolled up nachos and 5pm to midnight dinner service offers pretty bowls of pasta and fresh salads.
The one mainstay at Bar Vendetta is Chef James Santon’s sublime gelato and sorbet creations. One of each is offered each day, with past fave flavours featuring outside-of-the-box creations such as Focaccia, Tortilla, Pistachio, Coronation Grape, Burnt Maple and Parmesan.
Bang Bang Ice Cream
93a Ossington Ave., 647-348-1900
Toronto’s most famous ice cream sandwich can be found at Bang Bang on Ossington Avenue. The now iconic ice cream sandwich shop in Toronto opened its doors in 2014. Local foodies quickly caught wind and queues begun snaking down the street at the first whiff of warm weather (and during cooler temps too, if we’re honest). Flip through a handful of years, and the lines haven’t abated.
Bang Bang Ice Cream is the work of baker Rosanne Pezzelli, who first made her name in town with her Bakerbots Baking. “My first bakery was serving up some of Toronto’s first and finest ice cream sammies back in 2011,” Pezzelli notes. “We outgrew that space quickly and happened to come up upon an empty storefront at 93a Ossington. The neighbourhood had great energy; it was an eclectic mix of immigrants, students, rundown auto body shops, metalworkers, mom ‘n’ pop businesses and artists’ studios.” The fact that Pezzelli was already pals with the folks from Bellwoods Brewery and Union Restaurant helped cement her decision.
When it comes to the menu, the small batch ice cream comes in so many flavour choices, it’s a blessing the line-up’s a long one. Pezzelli, who notes she’s a “bit obsessive,” makes fresh batches daily using sustainable ingredients and has fun exploring good food and flavours. “I love our basics — simple is truly best to showcase ingredients — but do enjoy throwing a wrench into the mix to see what will happen,” she says. There are collaborations with neighbours and the team makes what they want to eat.
Options like Cinnamon Toast, Avocado and Fig and Chevre speak to food snobs and gluttons alike and are ready to be parcelled into scrumptious cookies like RoCocoa (deep, dark and delicious) or date and raisin-spiked Oatmeal. Safe types can use the already-approved flavour combos as guidance, though DIY sammies are encouraged. Keep in mind that there’s no inside seating to be had, so these ice creams are made for walking.
2 Bloor Street East, Eaton Centre at 220 Yonge Street, Dominion Centre at 66 Wellington Street West
Purdys Chocolatier is one of the most popular Canadian West Coast sweet shops. Starting in 1907, Richard Carmon Purdy found great success selling premium chocolates in British Columbia and Alberta.
In 2004 the celebrated Canadian sweet shop expanded for the first time to Ontario. The province now plays home to 27 Purdys locations, four of which are located in Toronto.
Purdys Chocolatier first launched its ice cream program in the 1980s when a mall manager was keen to add the offering. At the start, Purdy’s only sold ice cream scoops, but the owner wanted to add ice cream bars. He took the ice cream home, cut it into chunks and experimented with melted chocolate and different toppings.
Today, Purdys ice cream bars are the chocolatier’s signature frozen treat. Vanilla ice cream is dipped in white or dark chocolate then rolled in nuts or coloured sprinkles. A satisfying crunch!
Summer’s Ice Cream
101 Yorkville Ave, 416-944-2637
Yorkville’s best scoops can be found at Summer’s Ice Cream, a subterranean space on Yorkville Avenue.
Owners Ron and Lianne Tokey manage the popular ice cream parlour, which now offers its creative flavours in tubs at grocery stories.
Ron describes the story behind the name, “it was inspired by Helka’s brother Shukry Regepovich who started an ice cream store called Sweet Memories in Victoria, British Columbia.”
Summer’s Ice Cream originally opened its doors in 1984, “There were very few scoop shops in the area serving superior quality, homemade ice cream and so Summer’s was established to fill a void in the parlour space,” says Ron.
All of Summer’s Ice Cream flavours are made in house. The most popular flavours are Toronto Pothole, Almond Butter Toffee and Mango Raspberry Sorbet. They also scoop vegan frozen desert made from coconut cream and refreshing dairy sorbets.
Death in Venice
1418 Dundas St W, 416-509-3044
Owner Kaya Ogruce opened Death in Venice on Dundas Street West four years ago. The west end ice cream parlour is named after a book of the same name.
Ogruce describes the Toronto ice cream shops inspiration, “I wanted to have a culinary business that was not a restaurant. Gelato was the perfect vehicle to be creative in a different branch of the culinary world. I also didn’t want to participate in a traditional kitchen brigade system.”
Ogruce is a self taught gelato maker, offering a slew of seasonally inspired flavours 12 months a year. Death in Venice’s signature flavour is ricotta rosemary lemon. Other popular scoops include pistachio yogurt baklava, white truffle maple sage, and hay and honey.
Eva’s Original Chimneys
454 Bloor St W, 416-697-8884
Owners Justin and Kristin Butler first launched Eva’s Original Chimneys as a food truck in 2015.
The family-run Toronto ice cream business was named after Justin’s grandmother who’s originally from Budapest. The duo’s Hungarian chimney cone concept (known as Kürtöskalács in Hungary or Trdelník in Czech), was such a success they opened a storefront in 2017 on Bloor Street West.
Butler explains, “We actually first started making chimney cakes only. After a trip visiting family in Budapest we enjoyed them so much and sold our last belongings to buy a food truck!”
So where did the couple learn to make traditional Hungarian cone cakes? Butler adds, “Our training was in baking and dough making. We trained in Europe to make chimney cakes the traditional way and then developed and perfected our recipe with Eva’s help.”
Eva’s Original Chimney cone dough is made of just 7 ingredients and is vegan friendly. Guests can chose from a long menu of ice cream parfait options as soft serve is piped into the centre of each chimney pastry. Popular Hungarian ice cream sundaes include Apple Crumble, White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake, Peanut Butter Pretzel Parfait and Maple Pecan Cinnamon Bun.
Eva’s Original Chimney’s has now expanded with locations outside of Toronto at Square One mall, Port Credit and pop ups at the Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District and CNE food building.
Exchange Tower, 416-477-1029 + 3401 Dufferin St at Yorkdale Mall, 416-629-2391
Ladurée Cafe first opened its doors in Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall in December, 2017. A second concept recently opened in downtown Toronto in the PATH at Exchange Tower.
The French cafe was originally established in 1862 in Paris. Pierre Desfontaines famously invented the macaron at the trendy tea room, quickly popularizing the brightly coloured almond pastries.
Step inside Ladurée Cafe and you’ll feel as though you’ve slipped into a princesses’s dream doll house. The bright and inviting interior features crystal chandeliers and is decorated in splashes of teal, pistachio and pink.
Toronto ice cream fans can indulge in French flavours, which are served in cute cups and topped with crunchy macaron. Flavours rotate throughout the seasons but often include rose, pistachio, strawberry, raspberry, chocolate, coconut, pineapple and salted caramel.
Ladurée Cafe also offers dainty ice cream sandwiches. The arrive in an adorable box and feature two chewy “macaron cookies” stuffed with rich ice cream. Eat one of these on your own, don’t you dare share!
21 Baldwin St, 647-347-2818
Arctic Bites is owned by Toronto ice cream loving couple Ying Lin and Jonathan Kwan. The duo opened Arctic Bites in Kensington Market May, 2016.
Lin explains the meaning behind the ice cream shops name, “The inspiration comes from how our ice-cream is formed. Our ice-cream is made on a subzero surface that goes as low as -30 degrees. Temperatures that cold remind us of the Arctic!”
So why open an ice cream shop in Toronto? Lin says, “Jon and I grew up in Markham though we frequently came downtown for food, dessert, drinks and entertainment. Toronto is always lively, welcoming and up to something new. When we first came across the method of ice-cream in New York City we knew we had to bring this idea back home.”
Is it your first time trying rolled ice cream at Arctic Bites? Lin offers suggestions for newbies, “Like all ice-cream ours starts as off as fresh cream. All creams are cooked and flavoured in house. Customers love our fruit based and tea flavoured ice-creams. Our Love at First Bite, strawberry ice-cream rolls is a classic. Not only is a fresh strawberry chopped into the ice-cream during the rolling process but we also cook an abundant amount of strawberries into the base of the cream as well.”
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