Editor’s Picks

Sweet Treats: Houston’s 10 Best Ice Cream Shops

Keep cool this summer with the city’s best ice cream, custard, and gelato.

By Phaedra Cook and Katharine Shilcutt August 3, 2014 Published in the August 2014 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Café Dolce Gelato

You’re already beating the heat by taking refuge in the cool confines of the Galleria; while you’re there, up your heat-beating game at Café Dolce Gelato, where the sweet stuff is made on premises daily using local milk and real sugar (no HFCS here). A medium cup will get you three scoops for $5, or you can get a $6 affogato with up to four scoops topped with espresso. 

Cloud 10 Creamery

Acclaimed pastry chef Chris Leung creates such inventive ice cream flavors as buttermilk chai, prickly pear with balsamic vinegar, or red currant mascarpone, which change seasonally at his sunny Rice Village parlor. You can also find his creations at restaurants such as Underbelly, Kata Robata, and Paulie’s. 

Custard at Culver's


This Midwest import is a great fit with picturesque suburb The Woodlands: the throwback vibe of the dining room transports guests back in time to the 1980s. Culver’s is known for its frozen custard, which feels simultaneously lighter and richer than ice cream. We like it in one of the shop’s famous “Concrete Mixers,” which blends the custard with cookie dough, brownies, or candy bar bites.

Eatsie Boys

Chef Matt Marcus’s line of “Frozen Awesome” greets customers at the Eatsie Boys Cafe, where it’s hard to pass up a cup of Shipley’s Glazed & Confused Donut (made with real Shipley’s donuts) or Vietnamese coffee ice cream—especially on a nice day, when the picnic tables on the shaded patio beckon. 

Fat Cat Creamery

Once only available in pints at a few area stores, Fat Cat Creamery has finally expanded into a shop of its own. The three signature flavors—Mexican Vanilla, Strawberry Buttermilk, and Milk Chocolate Stout—are always available, with new flavors rotating in and out, all made with the same base ingredients: whole milk and cream from Mill-King, yard eggs from The Barry Farm, and sugar. Speaking of sugar, you’ll want to get that ice cream in a brown sugar waffle cone.  

Fun selections abound at Frozen Cafe.

Frozen Cafe

This Chinatown mainstay, a popular summertime destination, offers a wide array of frozen yogurt, homemade gelato, and homemade ice cream. The creamy, surprisingly sweet avocado gelato is our No. 1 favorite, but boozy, cocktail-based creations like vanilla whiskey Crown Royal, peach bellini, and watermelon mojito are giving it a run for its money. 


Long live Hank’s, Houston’s king of homemade ice cream since 1985. Though Hank Wiggins himself passed away in 2011, his family has kept his legacy alive by continuing to carefully craft batches of banana pudding, orange chocolate chip, cookies ‘n’ cream, and that perennial Hank’s favorite, butter pecan. 

Moreliana’s Natural Ice Cream

“Abierto todos los dias” proclaims the handwritten sign at Moreliana’s, which means you can enjoy handmade, Mexican-style ice cream every day of the week. Located in a very modest strip center, Moreliana’s offers a couple dozen flavors, including rum raisin, pistachio, blueberry, and even pine nut, as well as a selection of aguas frescas. Bonus: the place serves lunch, too. 


It’s typical to see a crowd at Ritter’s on weekend nights. Since opening in the 1980s, Ritter’s menu has expanded to include Frito pies as well as additional cold concoctions, including Italian ice and smoothies. Call us old-fashioned, but we’re content with a scoop of vanilla or chocolate custard—both, if we’re feeling fancy. 

Sweet Things Ice Cream

Inventive flavors such as Almond Brown Butter, Salty Fingers (salted caramel with crushed Butterfinger), and Shiner Bock make this Katy ice cream shop worth the drive. You also can get pints to go, and if you need a last-minute ice cream cake, you’ll find a few in the freezer case. The Dirt Sundae with gummy worms and crushed Oreos is fun, but for some crazy fun, bring a group of six and dig into the 12-scoop Big Daddy Sundae.

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