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Top 10 Ice Cream Spots

Rest of the best 2013.

Top 10

The Burger Guys love throwing cereal into their ice cream or into their crazy milkshakes.

Our 2013 Best of Houston® winners have been announced, but in many cases, picking the best item in any category was no easy task. In order to show off all the culinary greatness Houston has to offer, we'll be rounding up the "rest of the best" in some of our favorite categories during the next several months. Bon appétit!

It may seem strange to be thinking about ice cream in November, right when we're about to get a few months of chilly weather. But I guarantee you that there will be plenty of warm temperatures this winter that will have you craving a big bowl of ice cream.

Hank's Ice Cream Parlor is a Houston institution and was the first place in town to scoop funky flavors like sweet corn.
Robb Walsh
Hank's Ice Cream Parlor is a Houston institution and was the first place in town to scoop funky flavors like sweet corn.

And there's no shortage of great ice cream to be found in this diverse city of ours. From crazy flavors in Montrose to a good old-fashioned parlor in Galveston, we've got it all. So put on your stretchy pants and grab a friend (ice cream is best when shared), 'cause you're going to want to try all these spots.

Note: This list contains ice cream only. No gelato, no paletas, no froyo and no snow ice. We'll get to those, but ice cream is so delicious it deserves a list all its own.

10. La King's Confectionery

We all know Blue Bell has been making ice cream for a long time, but did you know that ice cream from the oldest producer in Texas can be found in Galveston? Purity Ice Cream, the first ice cream manufacturer in the state, was founded on Galveston Island in 1889. The King family, which owns La King's Confectionery, bought Purity awhile back, and now La King's is the only place in Texas where you can get ice cream made with some of the original recipes. It's made on-site, a few floors above the retail area at La King's, and it comes in dozens of different flavors, from the traditional chocolate, vanilla or strawberry to more extravagant offerings like apple pie ice cream with chunks of apple pie strewn throughout. Old-fashioned ice cream combined with the antique soda fountain atmosphere of La King's makes it easy to take a trip to another time, if only for a few minutes.

9. Pollo Bravo

When you go into Pollo Bravo and request ice cream, no one brings you a menu or asks what flavor you want. There is only one flavor at Pollo Bravo, and they do it so well there, nobody cares that there aren't more options. The owner of Pollo Bravo, Enrique Bravo, makes the helado de lúcuma himself, and he and the servers are all very proud of the product. And why shouldn't they be? The lúcuma ice cream has a sweet but unusual flavor, like caramel or vanilla with a hint of sweet almonds, with a bit of chalkiness that comes from the lúcuma fruit, which is native to Peru. If you've never tried lúcuma, this is the perfect way to start.

8. The Chocolate Bar

All of the ice cream at The Chocolate Bar is good, but the chocolate is, of course, the best. And by "the chocolate," I mean one of the dozen or so variations of chocolate available at the decadent shop. There's Chocolate Malt, Creamy Dreamy Truffle, Let's Go Oreo and Brownie Supreme; but my favorite is the simple French Silk, which tastes just like a traditional milk chocolate ice cream. There's nothing too rich or too complicated about it, which means it's easy to accidentally consume far more than anyone should. But don't worry; The Chocolate Bar also has Lemon Velvet ice cream, which serves as a cool palate cleanser before you go back for round two.

7. Amy's Ice Cream

This funky ice cream shop opened in Austin in 1984 (using a hot check to pay the first month's rent), but since then it has expanded to San Antonio and Houston as well. Part of the shtick at Amy's is the ice cream acrobatics employed by the servers to make your trip to the parlor a little more exciting. They'll toss scoops of ice cream in the air behind their backs or across the counter to another server, who will then catch it in a cup before handing it over. Theatrics aside, Amy's makes some darn good ice cream in unusual flavors like Irish coffee (booze included) and strawberry amaretto (booze not included).

6. The Burger Guys

They may be better known for their burgers (and duck-fat fries), but these guys also make some creamy and delicious ice cream in-house. Because it's made in small batches just for the burger joint, owners Jake Mazzu and Brandon Fisch are able to experiment with funky flavors like Cinnamon Toast Crunch and cafe sua da (Vietnamese iced coffee). The Burger Guys love throwing cereal into their ice cream or into their crazy milkshakes, so look for Captain Crunch, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and other sugary breakfast treats you loved as a child. Ah, nostalgia.

5. Whipped and Licked Ice Cream

Whipped and Licked (don't Google that without "ice cream" after it) opened this year, and though it's sold only out of other businesses like Antidote, Boomtown and Black Hole, it has already made quite a splash, thanks to the fun and funky flavors and the prominence of booze in many of the recipes. In Whipped and Licked's "about me" section on Facebook, the only description is "It's fun and it's fucking ice cream." But really, it's so much more than that. The flavors are constantly changing and evolving, but recently I was able to try the Banana Royal Dip, a cone filled with banana rum ice cream with a brown-sugar caramelized banana swirl. Oh, and then the whole thing is dipped in a chocolate shell. And then there's the Urban Cowboy, with peanut butter and bourbon ice cream and a salty peanut butter and Coca-Cola swirl. Oh, and the roasted plum sorbet "bitch slapped with ginger, lemon and pimento dram liqueur." I'm sorry, I can't pick a favorite.

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