Today's weather may indeed be quite agreeable, but the unfortunate truth is that the balance of summer days in this area will be closer in nature to the sweltering heat we experienced last week. Remember how fun that was?
The only real benefit to be derived from this hellish weather is that it provides a excellent excuse to go out and consume some ice cream or comparable frozen treat. We are fortunate in that downtown Silver Spring and the immediately surrounding areas provide a number of options to those seeking to satisfy their summer sweet tooth.
Here's a brief rundown of local ice cream dispensaries. If there are any I've neglected to mention, let me know in the comments.
Tropical Ice Cream Cafe
9324 Georgia Avenue
This may be my personal favorite of the bunch, and I've been getting cones here since it opened over 25 years ago. Until fairly recently the shop was known as York Castle Ice Cream. I don't know why the name changed after so many years, though I recently visited the actual York Castle and the location didn't exactly scream tropical flavors to me.
This shop may have the most interesting assortment of flavors in this group, as it features ice cream made with many tropical fruits of which I've never heard, including mamey sapote, atemoya and cherimoya. Located in a small strip mall on Georgia Avenue near the entrance to the Beltway (the same one as Goldberg's Bagels), the location isn't the most convenient, particularly if you are coming from the direction of downtown.
8030 Georgia Avenue
This South Silver Spring creamery features locally-produced ice cream in a variety of unique flavors. As with the Tropical Ice Cream Cafe, the only real downside might be the location, which is great if you live in South Silver Spring, but somewhat challenging for those driving due to limited parking.
Ben & Jerry's
903 Ellsworth Drive
Getting ice cream at Ben & Jerry's may be one of those rare occasions when you actually step foot in City Place.
Like Baskin-Robbins, everyone has likely had B&J countless times. Their ice cream is good enough, but you can go to Giant and pick up a pint of most of the flavors available at a B&J's retail outlet. I have noticed the employees are unusually friendly and helpful at this particular store, which in my experience is rarity at similar chain food service locations around here.
(Also, don't be fooled by their folksy presentation, hippies - they aren't owned by those dorky guys in City Slickers, but rather by giant multinational conglomerate Unilever.)
821 Ellsworth Drive
Based on the lines that form on hot summer evenings, this appears to be the most popular ice cream shop of the group. Either that, or they're really slow.
If you want to indugle in an extremely decadent desert, this is your place. The portions are giant and they will mix like what seems to be a pound of candy in with your ice cream. Cold Stone even has the distinction of having the unhealthiest drink in America, which puts it high in the runnin' for unhealthiest worldwide.
I think Aziz Ansari's take on Coldstone pretty much says it all. (Totally NSFW.)
|Aziz Ansari - Cold Stone Creamery|
935 Ellsworth Drive
This local frozen yogurt chain just opened their Silver Spring location last month, and after a few visits it is starting to grow on me. There are quite a few flavors to choose from (red velvet is delicious) and the self-serve toppings bar allows you to be creative with how you supplement your yogurt.
Since you initiate the yogurt-buying process by picking up a giant empty cup, there exists a distinct danger of going overboard. Some combination of frozen yogurt and candy has to fill that cavernous void. Frozen yogurt is nominally more healthy than ice cream, but the differential can easily be erased at the aforementioned toppings bar.
8639 16th St
What can you really say about Baskin-Robbins? It's the biggest ice cream franchise in the world, and odds are that wherever you originally hail from, there was at least one outlet. In the Olden Days, I often frequented the Baskin-Robbins on Piney Branch Rd. While that location may be long gone, but there's still a BR located in the strip mall on 16th St.
The last time I went to BR was a couple years back in order to satisfy a nostalgic craving for peanut butter & chocolate ice cream, but I was disappointed to discover that my ice cream was tainted by freezer burn. I can do that myself at home.
If nothing else, you should sign up for their Birthday Club to take advantage of your annual free cone.
The Ice Cream Man
No Fixed Address
If you think about it, the Ice Cream Man was probably the original food truck. Sadly, he never patrolled my neighborhood when I was a kid. Perhaps that is why I am now obsessed with hunting him down. Like one of Pavlov's dogs, I will come running out of my home after hearing just a few distant notes of "The Entertainer". Unfortunately, I always seem to cross paths with ice cream trucks when I am out for a walk and don't have any cash on me. I suppose I could ask for a loan, but one of many things I learned from Friday is that you shouldn't be in debt to the Ice Cream Man.
The problem with a lot of the ice cream trucks these days is that their owners do a half-assed job of dressing up their vehicles. Like most of the cabs in D.C., they are simply older vehicles sloppily re-purposed, and frequently the owners don't do much to hide the truck's former function aside from haphazardly slapping on a few Good Humor logos. It makes them look sketchy even when they are perfectly legit.
Outside of the standalone shops mentioned above, there are also a handful of other frozen treat options in Silver Spring, including Whole Foods (gelato), Kefa Cafe (gelato), Mama Lucia's (gelato), Potbelly (cones and shakes) and Nando's (bottomless soft serve).
Sadly missing from the list is Dairy Queen. There are days where I would literally kill for a Blizzard or a soft-serve cone dipped in chocolate. For whatever reason, Dairy Queen locations are few and far between in MoCo. The closest (non-mall) DQ is in Twinbrook, and you have to deal with miles of slow-moving SSINO traffic to get there.