If there is a food more emblematic of a fine summer day than ice cream, well, I don’t want to know about it. But with so many creamy, delicious options, which ice cream is the best on the East End? Follow this guide to the East End’s finest and you’ll never get a bad cone.
I’ve written about this Mattituck spot in the past, and that’s for good reason. I cannot get enough of their creamy, inventive ice cream, which is always boundary pushing in terms of flavors. Also, I’ll freely admit that while “Cookie Monster” is not a flavor, I’m weirdly attracted to the unnatural blue and cookie-studded specimen on offer year-round at Magic Fountain. But if it’s seasonal delicacies you’re into, Magic Fountain has a fresh strawberry flavor that will put all other strawberry ice creams to shame. Go get it this summer.
Magic Fountain, 9825 Main Rd, Mattituck, open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The casual burger joint-and-ice cream shop that has been operational since 1967 is my go-to for traditional flavors (find me a better baseline for coffee ice cream, I dare you). Like many of the East End’s ice cream places, John’s is cash-only, a crisis ameliorated by an in-house ATM. To wit: You can get a very fine and delicious John’s Burger and call it dinner, thereby excusing the fact that you drove out to Montauk to get ice cream. And don’t forget the ice cream cakes and better-than-Carvel flying saucers, which are perfect additions to your freezer at home.
John’s Drive-In, 677 Montauk Highway, Montauk, open daily 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
If you want to see what Peak Hamptons looks like, show up at East Hamptons’ Scoop Du Jour on any given Saturday during the summer, where you can expect to see a line snaking onto the street. The menu is comprehensive, as are the toppings. You could spend a whole day trying to decide what to get (pro tip: waffle cones are literal Belgian waffles, pressed before your very eyes, and you should get one in your belly, stat). And if you happen to visit on a day when your ice cream calling has waned, for whatever reason, there are fresh Dreesen’s Donuts to satisfy the non-frozen sweet tooth.
Scoop Du Jour, 35 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, open daily 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In Southampton, this luncheonette has been going strong since 1958, when the Parash family—who were also responsible for Bridgehampton’s Candy Kitchen—first opened it. Inside is a throwback to an earlier time, with a long counter that one associates with the soda jerks of yore. This isn’t the place for the flavor fanatic, to be clear. Sip’n Soda only offers a handful of homemade options, most of which can be purchased by the pint and quart—in case you’re in need of an in-home fix. But you can still get an old fashioned banana split with two scoops of ice cream, hot fudge, walnuts, whipped cream, and a cherry for under $9. Embracing the old school spirit means that this ice cream shop also serves egg creams, milkshakes, malteds, ice cream sodas, and sherbet freezes.
Sip’n Soda, 40 Hampton Road, Southampton, open Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday through Monday, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Why is Snowflake so good? Variety has a lot to do with it. In addition to their large list of hard serve ice creams, the Riverhead shop also offers a number of delicious soft serves, with flavors like Irish cream, banana, pumpkin, maple, and more. They are known, incidentally, for their “Peconic Swamp Thing,” a bespoke combination of brownies, chocolate ice cream, fudge, and raspberry purée. During the summer, the store uses fresh, local fruit for their seasonal flavors, like strawberry and apple cobbler. Do they have the recipe for success? Well, Snowflake has been going strong since 1953, the year my parents were born. Take that as a measure of greatness.
Snowflake Ice Cream Shoppe, 1148 W. Main Street, Riverhead, open Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
This story was originally published in 2019.