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Chocolate and vanilla and strawberry, oh my!

A review of the best ice cream shops in the greater Boston area

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I love ice cream. And you probably do too. I originally pitched this article because almost all the ice cream and frozen yogurt places in Brookline closed. No more Emack & Bolio’s, 16 Handles or Yogurtland. So here’s the question: is J.P. Licks really the best ice cream there is? Boston has so many ice cream places, so I wanted to try some of them. My mission: find the best ice cream in the Boston area.

In addition to Brookline’s J.P. Licks, I went to a shop in Allston, one in Newton and two places in Cambridge. Here they are, rated from best to worst, worst being relative — none of them were actually bad.

The pink tag marks Brookline High School. The ice cream shops we reviewed are tagged in black, and other ice cream places around Boston are tagged in blue. Click on a tag for the name of the shop and its address. 

1. Honeycomb Creamery (Cambridge)

Honeycomb Creamery was the clear winner, as well as the underdog. It’s probably the least well known of all the places I checked out and opened its first shop less than two years ago (although the owners started selling at farm stands and in stores before that). The ingredients are locally sourced and the ice cream is all handmade. After eating ice cream here, I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I just wanted to keep coming back.

SUSANNA KEMP/SAGAMORE STAFF
Left, malted vanilla and honey & oats ice cream at Honeycomb Creamery in Cambridge. Right, the salted caramel crackle. After a review of ice cream shops in greater Boston, Honeycomb Creamery came out on top.

Price: $4.25*

Taste: I tried honey & oats, malted vanilla and salted caramel crackle. They were all amazing. The ice cream is creamy, but not overly so, and the flavors are all true to their names without being overwhelming. The salted caramel crackle is similar to a typical salted caramel ice cream but has crunchy chunks of burnt caramel that melt in your mouth.

Fun flavors: coffee toffee, thai tea, banana bread & fudge

 

 

Tie for #2: J.P. Licks (Brookline)

I’m guessing many of you are familiar with J.P. Licks. I’m including it more for comparison’s sake than anything else. I had no idea until last summer that J.P. Licks has 12 locations besides its Coolidge Corner and Jamaica Plain stores; it has such a cozy, unchain-like feel. J.P. Licks may not have ranked number one, but it will always have a special place in my heart.

Price: $5.08

Taste: J.P Licks’s ice cream is harder than the ice cream at most ice cream shops. The flavors are typical for the most part, but the quality is high.

Fun flavors: Fruity Pebbles cereal milk, cappuccino crunch, coconut almond crunch

 

Tie for #2. FoMu (Allston)

Everything at FoMu is vegan. I’m always skeptical of vegan food (sorry, vegans), and I went into FoMu purely for the purpose of proving wrong the FoMu lovers who say vegan ice cream can be better than regular ice cream. Needless to say, I was surprised when the ice cream was actually very good and slightly annoyed that I wouldn’t be able to diss vegan ice cream for not being as good as the real thing — because it was. The only downside to FoMu is that it’s expensive.

SUSANNA KEMP/SAGAMORE STAFF
The peanut butter mudpie and F’Oreo ice cream at FoMu. The shop’s ice cream is vegan, and almost all of the flavors have a coconut base.

Price: $5.51

Taste: Almost all of FoMu’s ice cream is coconut based, and the ice cream tastes like it. If you don’t choose a strong flavor like chocolate to mask the coconut, you will taste it. So if you don’t like coconut, you probably won’t like FoMu. But all the ice cream is very creamy and extremely rich. I got the F’Oreo, which is supposed to be vanilla ice cream with Oreo chunks but is more like coconut ice cream with Oreo. I also tried the peanut butter mud pie, which was so thick it almost had a peanut butter-like consistency. There were also good-sized dollops of hot fudge.

Fun flavors: sweet lavender, Earl Grey shortbread, chocolate peppermint cookie

 

3. Toscanini’s (Cambridge)

Left, the blackberry blueberry ice cream at Toscanini’s. Right, the B3 and Fluff. Toscanini’s is widely hailed as the best ice cream in the Boston area, though our reviewer did not think it lived up to its reputation.

I had very high expectations going into Toscanini’s, which is probably part of the reason I was disappointed by it. Toscanini’s is hailed by many as the best ice cream around, and I’ve heard many people rave about it. It was pretty good, sure, but I don’t think it lives up to its hype.

Price: $4.55

Taste: Nothing about the ice cream here is particularly amazing or particularly bad. I think maybe people love Toscanini’s so much because of the unique flavors. I thought the best one was the B3 (brown sugar, brown butter, brownie), which is creamy and tastes almost a bit musty. Everything I tried was good except the blackberry blueberry, which tasted candyish and like medicine. I would stay away from the fruity flavors here.

Fun flavors: goat cheese honey walnut, Fluff, cocoa pudding

 

4. White Mountain Creamery (Newton)

SUSANNA KEMP/SAGAMORE STAFF
After Brookline’s J.P. Licks, White Mountain Creamery near Boston College is the shop that is closest to the high school.

While Toscanini’s and FoMu have a mostly millennial base, White Mountain Creamery is your classic family/teenage ice cream shop. (Honeycomb Creamery falls somewhere in between.) The servings here are gimongous; the smalls are big enough for two people (although I wouldn’t do that because I don’t share ice cream because . . . ice cream). You won’t find any funky flavors here. White Mountain Creamery is a feel-good kind of place.

Price: $4.12

Taste: The ice cream here tastes a tiny bit acidic, but only if you’re looking for it. The ice cream is thick but not super-creamy.

Fun flavors: Jamaican rum, strawberry cheesecake, fudge & nuts

 

So J.P. Licks was not the winner. Honeycomb Creamery was. I’m almost a little sad to share my findings with you, because now I’m giving away a secret. But my job was to tell you about the best ice cream in Boston, so there you have it: it’s a small shop in Cambridge.

 

* All prices are for a small cup and include tax.

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