When you need to cool off during the hot summer months, nothing satisfies quite like a scoop of ice cream. Those sweet treats can make even the most sweltering days feel more tolerable.
Even better is when that scoop is crafted by a local purveyor. Here are eight local shops scooping out delicious ice cream in the metro Phoenix area that will keep you coming back for more. Cheers to ice cream!
Three locations in metro Phoenix
Sweet Republic is well known for its small-batch ice cream made with all-natural ingredients. Other delectable goods like cookies, toppings, sauces, and waffle cones are also all made in-store. Customers can find plenty of atypical flavors on the menu. At the time of this writing, those include strawberry buttermilk, ditto honey, and dill pickle. Many of the unique flavors are based on the founders’ travels, but you can also find more common flavors like real mint chip, brownie fudge swirl, and classic chocolate. For vegan customers, Sweet Republic sells sorbet. Local residents can’t get enough of Sweet Republic, which has three Valley locations and celebrated its 15th anniversary in early June with free scoops.
Must-try item: The Toffee Banofi Sundae is legendary. Served only Friday-Sunday, this epic dessert features two scoops of vanilla bean ice cream, almond toffee brittle, bananas, salted caramel, and whipped cream, all in a waffle bowl.
5251 E. Brown Road in Mesa
Family-owned Dolce Vita Gelato and Grocery serves fresh, handmade gelato that’s crafted daily. Some flavors you might find under the glass case include espresso, cherry, crème brulee, Fruit of the Forest, and South African dark chocolate.
What (else) to try: Dolce Vita is also home to a restaurant that serves classic Italian fare. Shoppers also can buy other Italian food products like pasta and cheeses.
7140 E. Main St. in Old Town Scottsdale
Mario Cimmino, owner of Gelato Cimmino, grew up in southern Italy and wanted to bring fresh Italian gelato to the residents of his new home, Scottsdale. So he opened Gelato Cimmino in late 2018. Many of the ingredients in the gelato—like toasted hazelnuts and lemons—hail from Italy. Find flavors like coconut, chocolate chip, hazelnut and Nutella, milk cream, pistachio, and peanut butter cup. Gelato Cimmino also serves gluten- and dairy-free flavors including lemon, blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry.
What to try: If you like coffee, an affogato—a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of gelato—is a refreshing yet invigorating treat and one of the specialties here.
1325 W. University Dr. in Tempe
TD stands for Tracy Dempsey, one of the Valley’s most celebrated bakers who has whipped up desserts for some of the area’s best restaurants. Tracy also churns out ice cream from her Tempe wine and retail shop. Flavors change regularly; in early June, TDOriginals was serving chocolate, vanilla, peach, strawberry and fennel, piña colada, lemon dill, and hibiscus sorbet.
What (else) to try: Dempsey also creates a variety of pastries, cakes, and other desserts. Her Tempe store also features a well-stocked wine shop, with workers who are well-versed in their wine recommendations.
Two locations in metro Phoenix
Tucson-based The Screamery has two locations in metro Phoenix and claims to be the first shop to pasteurize its ice cream. The founders, couple Kenny and Linda Sarnoski, got the idea when they started trying to eat more natural, wholesome foods. This eventually led to them making their own ice cream. The couple uses ice cream made with hormone-free milk and cream. Customers can look forward to a variety of offerings. Flavors change regularly, but a few options on their site at the time of this writing include Mississippi Mudpie, an organic coffee base mixed with a fudge swirl and chocolate cookies; and Ooey Gooey Buttercake, vanilla ice cream and pieces of, you guessed it, butter cake.
What to try: If you’ve got a big appetite, The Screamery serves “ice cream nachos,” which consist of waffle chips topped with hot fudge and a single scoop of ice cream.
7133 E. Stetson Dr., Ste. #105, Scottsdale
Merkin Vineyards is perhaps best known for being owned by Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan, but Merkin also employs gelato chef Kelley E. Foy. Each of Foy’s gelato flavors is crafted using Arizona-produced dairy along with ingredients plucked straight from Merkin’s own greenhouses, gardens, and orchards. Guests can purchase small or large pints in flavors like mint chocolate, caramel, lavender malvasia, vanilla, and lemon pomegranate.
Must-try flavor: Seeing as Merkin Vineyards’ best-known product is its Arizona wine, trying the lavender malvasia—malvasia is a wine grape—is well worth it.
5223 N. Central Ave. in Central Phoenix
Central Phoenix’s Churn is a whimsical ice cream shop from the Upward Projects restaurant group — the folks behind Postino Wine Café, Federal Pizza, and Joyride Taco House. Besides the ice cream, you also can find pastries, cookies, and retro candy like Big League Chew. All of Churn’s ice cream is free of preservatives, stabilizers, and chemical additives. Flavors rotate frequently; June flavors include lemon sorbet, oatmeal cookie dough, Rocky Road, and Rodeo Queen. Order your ice cream in a cone, sundae, float, milkshake, or ice cream sandwich.
What to try: If you can handle it, the Kitchen Sink sundae includes peanut butter and chocolate ice cream, toffee sauce, chocolate pretzels, butterscotch chips, whipped cream, and peanuts.
2014 N. 7th Street in Central Phoenix
Nami in Central Phoenix serves a vegan ice cream that those with dietary restrictions (or those simply forgoing dairy) can enjoy. The shop’s signature tSoynami is made with organic unrefined cane sugar, organic coconut and soy milk, and tSoft tServe ice cream that comes in vanilla, chocolate, or swirl.
What to try: Customize your chilled treat with toppings or choose from a combination like Life’s a Peach, a deconstructed peach cobbler with house granola and caramel.