Even if you’re currently screaming for reasons other than ice cream, you still deserve a scoop of frozen happiness. And, luckily, Miami has some really great ice cream options. This guide has our favorites, from the excellent Wynwood scoop shop where we once tried pickle bacon ice cream to a classic Cuban spot that’s become a Calle Ocho landmark.
Toothfairy is a dessert shop in South Beach that offers an assortment of cookies, cakes, and pies - which are all great. But perhaps the best thing here is the incredibly creamy and perfectly flavored soft serve. Flavors include cookie butter, almond joy, taro, and strawberry. You can also mix flavors, which is a particularly good idea with taro and strawberry. The pillowy ice cream holds its shape but is still soft enough to run a plastic spoon through with zero resistance. This place is a to-go operation, and there are no seats inside the small shop, so prepare to inhale this on the sidewalk. That shouldn’t be too hard with ice cream this good.
Vicky’s House is a little dessert bar next to Lokal in Coconut Grove that’s modeled to look like an ’80s kitchen with vintage appliances (there’s beer in the washing machine), aesthetically offensive wallpaper, and an original Nintendo in the corner. It’s cheesy (in the best kind of way) and they serve those kinds of stoner fantasy milkshakes with donuts dangling from the straw and Twinkies jutting out of the whipped cream. You can certainly come here for just a scoop and a beer, but why not go big with a milkshake that guarantees your night ends with sweatpants?
Salt & Straw’s Wynwood and Coconut Grove locations have everything that made this national scoop shop so popular: fascinating flavors, local collaborations, and really, really good ice cream. Flavors rotate often, but we’ve tried (and absolutely loved) the bacon biscuit crumble with pickle caramel, pineapple coconut cream pie, and honey lavender. When we visited, they also had a Salty Donut guava and cheese collaboration and a chocolate tres leches made with Panther coffee. To-go pints are available too, so you can stock your freezer with whatever flavor you inevitably fall in love with.
Below Zero is an Italian/Argentinian scoop shop on the outskirts of MiMo. It’s easy to miss from the street (and is pretty much just an ice cream display case inside) but the ice cream here is very good. They have classic flavors like rum raisin and mint chocolate chip as well as more interesting options like stracciatella, cannoli, and a perfectly balanced banana dulce de leche. There are other good desserts here too, like frozen alfajores and mini ice cream cakes, both of which you can currently find in our freezer.
Sweet Melody is making our favorite ice cream in Miami at the moment. They have a little ventanita out in West Kendall as well as a scoop shop in Palmetto Bay. Both serve a rotating selection of delicious and creative flavors like baklava ice cream made with rosewater and mascarpone cheese. Their guava and cream cheese flavor is also outstanding. And they’re always trying new things with flavors based on horoscopes or characters from The Office. You can trust that any given trip here is going to result in some of the best ice cream you’ve ever had.
Frice is just fantastic. They used to only sell wholesale to restaurants, but they finally got their own location inside The Citadel in Little Haiti - and this is great news. The flavors here are creative and delicious. Options change frequently, but the ones we’ve had (like guava chocolate chip and mamey with cookie butter) all made us do an unconscious little ice cream dance.
Wynwood’s Dasher & Crank is one of those shops where you’ll want to order everything - there isn’t a flavor that doesn’t sound (and taste) delicious here. Personally, we struggle to not order the Salty Beach (coconut ice cream, sea salt, and graham cracker) every time, but we occasionally break our streak for the ube flavor. We’ve seen them try everything from salmon and cream cheese to watermelon goat cheese ice cream here, and somehow they pull it all off.
In Miami, there’s a Cuban version of almost anything and Hialeah’s Tio Colo is making Cuba’s answer to the ice cream sandwich. And their bocaditos de helado are as good as any ice cream sandwich we’ve ever come across. They put a rectangle of ice cream between two slices of sugar-dusted white bread. The bread-to-ice-cream ratio is perfect, and it won’t fall apart while you try to eat it. Order at least two.
Madlab is an ice cream shop in the Design District. And, like all things in the Design District, it’s a little fancy and over-the-top. For example, you can get your ice cream topped with gold leaf and fluffy cotton candy that will kind of make your cone look like Bob Ross. But the reason we like this place is that the ice cream underneath all that fancy stuff is really good. And if you don’t want to pick gold leaf out of your teeth in the bathroom, you can just come here for a couple plain scoops of matcha or passion fruit and still be very satisfied.
Kith Treats is an ice cream shop inside a sneaker store in South Beach. We know that’s a lot to process, but all you really have to know is that this ice cream is great and a favorite of stylish teenagers who might make you feel very old while you wait in line, especially if you just turned 30. Anyway, they have this machine that does a really nice job of mixing in all sorts of cereal and candy and other good things you want incorporated into your ice cream. You’ll have to finish it before you’re allowed in the sneaker section though.
Peel is a little truck that parks outside Elev8tion Fitness on Saturdays and Sundays from about 10am-5pm. Their soft serve is made with coconut and banana - and not just any bananas either. They use rescued bananas from local produce shops that would otherwise go to waste. You can order it plain or with toppings like peanut butter, strawberry, or pineapple. It’s refreshing, light, and doesn’t give you an intense sugar high like some of these other scoops. It’s worth trying regardless if you’ve just worked out or woke up.
Azucar is a classic, both for architecture and ice cream. Their giant ice cream cone sculpture is one of our favorite landmarks on Calle Ocho, but the ice cream here is equally as impressive. They do a lot of Cuban-inspired flavors, like their most famous one, the Abuela Maria - with Maria cookies, guava, and cream cheese. Other flavors include cafe con leche and Oreo, sweet plantain, and dulce de leche. They also have a huge painting of Celia Cruz and benches made out of guayaberas. Never change, Azucar.
Taiyaki’s inside 1-800-Lucky is known for their fish cones, which not only look adorable but taste great. We would happily eat those soft, warm, fish-shaped waffle cones by themselves, but they are obviously better when filled with soft serve. Flavors include matcha and black sesame, pineapple, and vanilla. You can take it to-go or eat it on 1-800-Lucky’s patio.
Frieze is an ice cream shop that’s been open since Miami Vice was on the air. It’s that kind of charming neighborhood scoop shop with bright fluorescent lights, hypothermia-inducing AC, and a staff exclusively made up of teenagers. The ice cream is kosher and they have non-dairy sorbet made with real fruit. There are no ridiculous flavors or sundae monstrosities that exist only for photos here - just mostly cups and cones you can take with you down nearby Lincoln Road.