Bostonians eat more ice cream per capita than anyone else in the United States, according to an oft-repeated—though difficult to verify—factoid. Whether it's actually true, there are a remarkable number of independent, premium ice cream and gelato shops in town, along with a flood of frozen yogurt joints selling sweet and tangy swirls to top with lots of candy and garnishes.
BerryLine. This is the place for superlative soft, tangy frozen yogurt made from real ingredients, like milk, cane sugar, and fresh fruit. Two post-doctoral fellowship student friends—one from MIT and the other from Harvard Medical School—founded this funky local spot with outposts in Porters Square (1668 Massachusetts Avenue) and Fenway (1337 Boylston Street). Four flavors (out of 100), like passion fruit, green tea, salted caramel, and nutella, appear on each of the shop's menus daily with toppings like fresh seasonal fruit, cheesecake chunks, and honey-nut granola that go far beyond the traditional chain offerings. They even craft their own soft, chewy mochi (pounded rice taffy). 3 Arrow Street, 02138. 617/868–3500. www.berryline.com.
Christina's Homemade Ice Cream. Inman Square dessert mecca Christina's dishes up around 50 creative ice cream flavors, from honey lavender to cinnamon rice pudding, and an amazingly addictive chocolate mousse. Seasonal ice-cream flavors, like apple pie, eggnog, and fresh rose, rotate onto the list, which always includes at least five dairy-free sorbets in flavors like orange-chocolate, pear, cassis, and pink grapefruit. No matter how unusual the options, the scoops always taste rich and delectable. 1255 Cambridge St., Inman Square, Boston, MA, 02139. 617/492–7021. www.christinasicecream.com.
Emack & Bolio's. Dieting meets decadence at Emack & Bolio's, a half juice/smoothie bar, half ice-cream parlor with several tourist-friendly locations, including Back Bay (290 Newbury Street). The flavors here aren't as extreme as the offerings at some competitors, but favorites include Serious Chocolate Addiction and Caramel Moose Prints. You'll also find rock-solid renditions of favorites like cookie dough, butter pecan, and pistachio nut. 255 State St., Waterfront, Boston, MA, 02109. 617/367–0220. www.emackandbolios.com.
J.P. Licks. Simple but sublime cones have made many addicted to the fun and funky likes of J.P. Licks, a local institution with numerous outposts (Boston, Brookline, and Harvard Square). In addition to a traditional stable of ice cream flavors, monthly specials might include gingersnap molasses and s'mores. Frozen yogurt fans will cheer the wide selection of hard and soft frozen yogurt offerings, along with tangy versions too, such as tart cherry. The hot fudge sauce is superb. 1106 Boylston St., Back Bay, Boston, MA, 02115. 857/236–1666. www.jplicks.com.
Lizzy's Ice Cream. Barely bigger than a shoebox, this Harvard Square parlor offers more than 50 fabulous flavor options like orange-pineapple and Charles River Crunch (a dark-chocolate ice cream with almond toffee nuggets) and a soda fountain. The frappes and sundaes here are unrivaled. 29 Church St., Harvard Square, Boston, MA, 02138. 617/354–2911. www.lizzysicecream.com.
Picco. With a name that's short for Pizza and Ice Cream Company, Picco is perfect for both kids and kids at heart. This South End spot combines an upscale, trendy feel with an old-fashioned soda fountain and homemade ice-cream flavors including coconut–chocolate chip, honey, and Vietnamese cinnamon. It serves real food, too; so if you must, you can get dinner (or lunch) before dessert. If you want beer with your pizza, there's a large, rotating list of craft beers to choose from. 513 Tremont St., South End, Boston, MA, 02116. 617/927–0066. www.piccorestaurant.com.
Toscanini's. If you're looking for serious ice cream, head to Toscanini's. With flavors such as goat cheese–brownie, burnt caramel, and green tea, this MIT establishment has few equals, especially when it comes to their micro sundae—a teeny scoop of ice cream topped with excellent homemade hot fudge and real whipped cream—a perfect option for kids and adults eager for a guilt-free splurge (well, almost). 899 Main St., Central Square, Boston, MA, 02139. 617/491–5877. www.tosci.com.
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