London’s Best Ice Cream

It’s hot and we want to cool down. With food, preferably. And while there’s nothing wrong with a 99, we’ve spent the last few days trotting between London’s ice cream parlours to sample their wares and find the best. We now feel faintly bilious, but confident that these places won’t disappoint – though bear in mind that gelateria often chop and change their flavours to keep it interesting. And if we’ve missed your favourite, let us know in the comments.

Gelupo

When we asked around for ice cream recommendations, Gelupo kept being mentioned. Turns out we know some smart people: Gelupo was the last on our tasting list and, to be frank, we were starting to feel literally sick of the idea. Then we had a mouthful of melon sorbet with hints of cinnamon and jasmine which was so light, refreshing and damn tasty that our faith was restored. We don’t want to say this is definitively the best ice cream in London but we can’t imagine what could beat it.
Where: 7 Archer Street, Piccadilly Circus
How much: £3 / £4 / £5.
Anything else? Cakes, flatbread sandwiches and an Italian deli in the back of the shop.
Most outlandish flavour: Ricotta chocolate and black pepper? Blood orange? Cherry and sambuca?

Chin Chin Laboratories

These guys use liquid nitrogen to freeze the ice cream, which makes their Camden Market shop look more like a lab than a gelateria. Pondicherry vanilla and Valrhona chocolate are always available, plus two specials, and you can choose a topping (held in science beakers) or sauce for one-size-only £3.95. We had the rich, smooth vanilla topped with heather honeycomb, like posh Crunchie. It’s the only one on our list to get near the home-made experience, where cream temporarily cloys to the roof of your mouth (that’s just what happens when cream gets cold). While The Icecreamists are off the high street Chin Chin Labs is the most ‘Heston’ you’ll get.
Where: 49-50 Camden Lock Place, under the bridge.
How much: £3.95, extra toppings 45p each.
Anything else? Nope.
Most outlandish flavour: Pineapple and choc chip.

Shake Shack

Yeah yeah, burgers, whatever. What caught our eye when Shake Shack opened was its frozen custard – ice cream heavier than gelato, in other words. You can get vanilla, chocolate or flavour of the day (see website for details) or ‘concretes’: tubs of ice cream with added bits. We went for a single Union Shack, a chocolate ice cream more putty-like than concrete (though this could have been down to the heat), with St JOHN Bakery brownie, Paul A Young chocolate chips and fudge sauce. Unsophisticated but a lot of fun.
Where: 24 Market Building, Covent Garden.
How much: £2.50 / £3.50 for single flavours, £4 / £6.50 for concretes.
Anything else? Er, burgers.
Most outlandish flavour: Blackberry Buttermilk.

Sardo Cucina

Sardo Cucina is the cafe offshoot of restaurant Sardo in Fitzrovia, and the ice creams aren’t the focal point at all – look for the freezer cabinet tucked into the corner. But we tried the vanilla flavour and where Shake Shack talks about frozen custard, this one genuinely tasted of rich, eggy custard. We’ll be making detours to try it again.
Where: 112 Whitfield Street, Fitzrovia.
How much: £3.40 / £3.80 / £4.70.
Anything else? Sandwiches, cakes, everything deli.
Most outlandish flavour: Tiramisu – it’s not really that kind of place.

Paul A Young

If you want chocolate ice cream, where better than a top chocolatier? Only the Camden Passage and Royal Exchange Paul A Young shops sell ice cream; we visited the latter and found tubs of ready scooped dessert waiting in the freezer. Time saving. We opted, naturally, for the chocolate sorbet, which tastes like they’ve taken 70% dark chocolate, churned and frozen it. Which they sort of have. We’d only suggest replacing the wooden spoons with plastic: wood drags on the mouth and slightly spoils the velvety texture.
Where: 20 The Royal Exchange, Bank; 33 Camden Passage, Islington.
How much: £4.50.
Anything else? Masses and masses of chocolate.
Most outlandish flavour: The chocolate is pretty outlandish.

Gelateria 3bis

Of course Borough Market would have a proper Italian gelateria, and 3Bis has its roots in Rimini. You can choose from two flavours in the two smaller sizes, or three flavours for £4.60, plus you get a wafer and the option of liquid chocolate drizzled into the base of your cup. We tried the coconut bounty flavour which has bits of coconut and chocolate mashed into the ice cream and feels gimmicky compared to our other choice, the velvety smooth mascarpone and figs. That’s a proper, grown up ice cream.
Where: 4 Park Street, SE1.
How much: £3.20 / £4 / £4.60.
Anything else? Some cakes and drinks.
Most outlandish flavour: Kinder.

Scoop

We made an involuntary grunt of pleasure on tasting the biscotto gelato, though that might also have been part relief at successfully negotiating the Covent Garden store’s chaotic queueing system. It comes piled high at even the smallest price of £3.50 and is creamy yet light, quality definitely not sacrificed for quantity.
Where: 40 Short’s Gardens, Covent Garden; 53 Brewer Street, Soho; 16 Old Brompton Road, South Kensington.
How much: from £3.50. Prices get a bit complicated when you start factoring in things like chocolate dipped cones.
Anything else? Waffles, crepes, churros.
Most outlandish flavour: Green tea made with matcha powder from Kyoto.

Honourable mentions

Oddono’s: gelato is made daily in South Kensington, including its surprisingly woody award-winning pistachio. East Dulwich prices £2.30 / £3.30 / £4.30 / £5.30.
14 Bute Street, South Kensington; 69 Northcote Road, Battersea; 8 Flask Walk, Hampstead; 147 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich; Selfridges; Whiteleys.

Black Vanilla: uses local, independent producers for its ingredients and the creamy cinnamon is excellent. A personal favourite, but in SE London only. £1 / £3 / £4 / £5.
32 Tranquil Vale, Blackheath and 5 College Approach, Greenwich.

Amorino: they make your cone in the shape of a rose, which is adorable. Try the speculoos sorbet. £3.50 / £4.50 / £5.80
41 Old Compton Street, Soho; 7 Garrick Street, Covent Garden; 67A Kings Road, Chelsea.

Tesoro: huge array of gelato flavours and genuine Italian customers relaxing outside; a good sign. £2.50 / £3 / £3.50 / £4.
39 Goodge Street, Fitzrovia.

La Gelateria: currently selling a London Fields Hackney Hopster sorbet, which actually fizzes a bit on the tongue. £1 / £3 / £4 / £5.
27 New Row, Covent Garden.

Freggo: Argentinian ice creams on the sweet and creamy side. We paid them a visit when it first opened; service hasn’t got any faster. £3.95.
27-29 Swallow Street, Piccadilly Circus.

Disclaimer: We review anonymously and pay for all our meals/drinks.

See also: The Best Rooftop Bars in London

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  • southpawgirl

    I am not a big fan of Gelupo: I can taste the thickening agent in their concoctions. Freggo is too sweet and rich; as it is sometimes the ice cream of GelatoMio, which you haven’t mentioned but it’s quite deserving despite the occasional sugar overload.

    On the whole, I’d say that my favourite is Oddono: the pistachio is really heavenly as the Cookies&Cream is. Also, the Sorbitium Ices van has the best salted caramel I ever tasted. A pity they have such vague information on their website that it’s difficult to understand where they are when.

    • Ben Austin-Duch

      Sorbitium Ices is my aunt’s business! They do the TASTIEST ice cream ever….
      http://www.sorbitiumices.com/p/markets-events.html
      Here is a list of when and where they are at. Hope that helps!

      • southpawgirl

        Hi Ben, pass my congratulations to your aunt :) They are stars, indeed. I am aware of that page but you need a certain concentration to figure out how it maps to any given day… I follow them on Twitter and I think it would be awesome if they could just post something like “today we will be at X location from 10 am to 3 pm”. They make ice cream worth a detour for!

  • http://www.planestrainsandplantagenets.com/ Kerry

    The millefoglie gelato at 3bis is simply the best cold thing I have ever put in my mouth. It’s lovely.

  • http://am0.co.uk/ Alex Moyler

    Big fan of Scoop right near Piccadilly circus. Been there a number of times and everyone I take has always left happy!

  • E

    Venchi at Covent Garden is also worth a mention, it’s pistachio is to die for. So smooth and creamy but not too sweet

  • Clapham Mother

    LabG in Brixton Market is also fantastic, definitely deserves to be in the top 10. Their pistachio is every bit as good as Oddono’s and the salted caramel is wonderful. It is the perfect pudding for any Brixton Market meal, in my experience.

    I agree about Gelupo being a bit hit and miss. Sometimes it is sublime, and others not so much. I had fragola grape sorbet once, with high hopes, as it is a favourite fruit of mine, and the stuff was so horrible I had to put it in the bin! Round the corner of course, I didn’t want to hurt their feelings.

  • southpawgirl

    Agree about Vecchi in Holborn / Covent Garden. Expensive and small portions, but hugely enjoyable!

  • terry fischer

    They all look good, but when I see concrete and custard I’m reminded that the shake shack owner is from St. Louis and all his ice cream creations are from the original Ted Drewes, on the old highway 66 since 1929.

  • Gerry

    LaGelatiera definitely above all the others. Proper Slow Food ingredients, old fashion craft, unique flavours not found anywhere else.

  • LowenthalLowenthal

    This Icecream is so very tasty and sweet for eat .There are many Indregiant use.
    http://www.prlog.org/12143342-6pm-coupons-avail-50-off-on-6pm-shoes-promo-code.html

  • Cassie

    Nardulli in Clapham Common is definitely worth a try!