by Bradley Harrison and Mara McCloy
Ice cream and Charleston go together as effortlessly as macaroons and Paris. When the sun rises, there is no escaping the sauna of the Low Country. So if you find yourself looking for a cold break on a miserably hot Charleston day, ice cream is the next best thing to jumping into the Pineapple Fountain. Ice cream is a go-to food for celebrations and break-ups alike, but the choice can be daunting. Should you walk the few blocks past Republic just to get Jeni’s? (Yes.) Are there other ice cream spots other than Jeni’s that you should try? (Also yes.) Luckily, we’ve hunted down the best scoops in the city, so go have a cold one on us.
239 ½ King Street
$5.43 for a small cup
There are only three locations of this Argentinian delight in the United States, and Charleston is lucky enough to have one. Freddo imports all of their helado from Argentina, where it is traditionally made. You may notice that “helado” sounds a lot like its Italian counterpart “gelato.” Guess what? Both words mean ice cream in English. Freddo’s helado is very soft, dense and creamy, almost like a thick milkshake you can eat with a spoon. Make sure to try their dulce de leche flavor, the South American version of caramel made out of condensed milk. They also let you combine flavors, so we recommend pairing half a scoop of dulce de leche with whatever flavor tickles your fancy.
Peace Pie 223
Meeting Street and 509 King Street
$6 for one ice cream sandwich
If you have never been to Peace Pie, you are missing out on a unique ice cream experience. With six locations spreading from New Jersey all the way to Florida, these delightful cookie sandwiches crumble at two, quirkily “peacified” stores in downtown Charleston. When we walked into the original Charleston Peace Pie on Meeting Street, we couldn’t help but giggle. The server’s smile and laughter were contagious, the space was colorful and vibrant, but what really stood out were the inventive and delicious ice cream sandwiches. With a thin cookie crust, a pie filling spread and a large scoop of sweet ice cream in between, you will have a positively psychedelic experience. Be sure to try their classic flavors like Pecan Pie and Key Lime Pie, but also their S’mores and Cookie Dough, because if you buy 10, your eleventh Peace Pie is on the house with their rewards card. You can even submit your own flavor creations on their website for a chance to win five free Peace Pies, in addition to having your flavor sold in stores.
Paolo’s Gelato Italiano
41 John Street
$6 for a small cup
This quaint gelato spot is one of only two locations in the whole world. Native Italian, Paolo Dalla Zorza, spent his formative years travelling and learning about what makes this Italian ice cream the best. Upon figuring out how to make the soft and airy treats of his dreams, he brought his recipes to America. Paolo’s combines authentic and delicious into one small cup. The options are full of flavor, yet pleasantly understated, allowing you to breathe in the ambiance of Italy. All of the flavor’s names are in Italian, which made it fun for us to try and pronounce the Stracciatella. No worries though, you don’t need to know Italian to enjoy this chocolate chip gelato. If you are in the mood for something lighter and more fruity, have a taste of the Mango flavor.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
501 King Street
$5.43 for two half scoops
If you try only one place from this entire article, make it Jeni’s. Set in a modern, cozy store on Upper King, the constantly swinging glass doors welcome you in with a warm fragrance. What makes Jeni’s special is their plethora of unconventional flavors that pack a punch into each bite. From seasonal selections like the Christmas-time dark chocolate and jalepaño Xocorosa (pronounced chos-or-o-sa), to the very autumn Pistachio & Honey, to a classic like Darkest Chocolate, Jeni’s bold and distinct flavors will knock your socks off. For a truly unforgettable experience, order the greatest coffee flavored ice cream ever created: Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso. Our photographer ordered this one and described it perfectly by saying, “It actually tastes how coffee smells!”
Face it, you can’t walk half a block on King street before you feel the sweat pool and the swampy heat coming off the gutters. That empty feeling on the back of your tongue and in the palm of your hand can only be filled by one thing…ice cream. Peep our freezing cold suggestions to inject some fire into your ice cream game. So whether you’re looking for authentic gelato, a unique ice cream sandwich, or a classic yet fun cone, one of these scoops is sure to be your new ‘flavorite.’
*This article originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of The Yard.