Mary Scherpe is the author of Berlin lifestyle blog Stil In Berlin. Following on from her roundup of the very best bibimbap spots, she moves onto dessert with five of the sweetest ice cream spots in town.
It might come as a surprise to you that Berlin is a city with a superb ice cream scene. After all, outside of a few blisteringly hot summer weeks, the city isn’t exactly known for ice cream-appropriate weather. That’s not a problem though – Berliners will happily eat ice cream all day, every day, come rain or come shine.
This city-wide craving correlates with a vibrant grassroots ice cream scene, with local parlors found in every district in town. In fact, barely a month goes by without a new one opening its doors to cater to the frosty desires of longstanding residents and visitors alike. With evermore creative flavors emerging all the time – from savory options like cashew to increasingly complex experiments like the Moscow Mule – Berlin’s ice cream dealers are continually trying to outdo each other in order to stand out.
While Berlin’s love-affair with the sweet stuff goes back a long way (parlors like the famous Eiscafé Monheim have been around since the 1920s!), by the late 2000s a whole new kind hype had developed. Places like Schöneberg’s Vanille & Marille or Mitte’s Eismanufaktur led the pack with intense flavors and smooth textures, seeing long lines out the door on any day with a temperature of more than around 60ºF, and since that time ice cream has become an inseparable part of life in the German capital.
However, when something is in such high demand, not everywhere that caters for it is worth queuing for. While the general level of quality is remarkably high (you’ll be hard pressed to find additive-laden, whippy "soft ice" anywhere here), there are some that are truly exceptional, and more than worth a dedicated visit on a hot day – even if you do have to bypass countless other parlors on the way to get there!
Here’s our top 5 list of ice cream superstars in Berlin.
Gabrielle Jones, a trained French patissier, came to Berlin specifically to start her own ice cream truck – a lovely light-blue vintage cart loaded with such delicious flavors as lemon & blueberry jam, salted butter & caramel, raspberry yogurt, green tea and even bourbon whisky! What’s more, she serves them not only scooped into the standard waffle cones or cups, but also as sundaes filled with, for example, passion fruit curd, salted butter caramel and vanilla ice cream, passion fruit espuma and lime crumbs. She even brings her own cookies in flavors like cranberry and white chocolate or milk chocolate with peanuts, to be served alongside. Just imagine a gorgeous scoop of rhubarb jam and greek yogurt ice cream on an intense matcha cookie. Intrigued? You should be.
You can find out where the Jones cart will be around the city this summer, right here.
Fresh made ice cream made and served only minutes after it was ordered seems like an impossibility. But not for the owners of the super-colorful Woop Woop truck, who have found a way to fulfil your wish – liquid nitrogen! Thanks to its insanely cold -320 ºF temperature, the Woop Woop guys are able to create a smooth, creamy ice cream using the ingredients of your choice, right before your eyes. The downside of that is a waiting time that’s a little longer than usual, but that’s the price you pay to have complete control of the flavors in your dream scoop. If that’s too much to deal with, you can always try one of their weekly changing flavors, such as peanut butter chocolate with caramel swirl, yogurt lemon cheesecake, or mint and chocolate chip. The results are delicious, fresh and (understandably) very cold, yet somehow soft and intense.
Follow their Facebook page to find out where they park their truck around the city.
Artisanal popsicles are a new thing to Berliners. For years, so-called “Eis am Stiel” has been something you got at your local convenience store, pumped full of artificial flavors and other additives. However, citizens here were taught just how delicious and refreshing popsicles can actually be when Paletas opened three summers ago and we’ve been in love ever since. The pure fruit popsicles in refreshing flavors like strawberry-lime, orange-rosemary, cucumber-lemon and yogurt-raspberry have an intense and natural flavor, as well as a soft-yet-refreshing texture. Some competitors have joined the popsicle-market since, but Paletas remains a firm favorite.
You can find them at the usual street food markets as well as in selected stores throughout the city or via their Facebook page.
While Paletas showed us popsicles, the two guys behind Zwei Dicke Bären (literally “Two Fat Bears”) introduced Berlin to an even more indulgent treat: the ice cream sandwich. Using two delicious, thick homemade cookies along with a generous scoop of speciality ice cream from Neukölln’s ice cream parlor-de-excellence, Mos Eisley, the Bears create something so good you’ll almost wish you never tried it – unless, of course, you want to become the third Bear!
Their sandwiches have been a big hit since César Cotta and Cieran Rockwell moved to Berlin from New York two summers ago to start their sweet treat business. That’s no wonder, with a menu that includes the likes of lemon sugar cookies with blueberry ice cream, orange brulee cookies with cointreau ice cream, white chocolate pistachio cookies with strawberry, and even crispy cereal bars with coffee! Currently they’re even working on perfecting the meringue-sandwich – bad news for diets everywhere.
Follow their Facebook page to find out were the Bears are heading next.
Some parlors try to stand out by developing never-before-tasted flavor combos that are too unusual to be delicious. While at first sight you might think Die Eismacher falls into this category, with undeniably eccentric flavors like cucumber and woodruff or beetroot and cranberry, their creations are actually delicious. All of them. Trust me on this. One choice extremely popular with the crowds (and me) is their intense, purple Ube flavor – a Philippine sweet potato variety whose earthy natural flavor tastes totally different than it looks.
Die Eismacher only use natural ingredients, and many flavors are available as either a regular or vegan sorbet or milkshake – whichever you prefer! Besides their café in Kreuzberg, their ice cream is sold at Süßkramdealer in Friedenau. Click here for more details.