The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Ice Creams

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Photo by Troy Fields
Two scoops from our No. 4 pick.
For the next 20 weeks, we'll be rounding up the runners-up to our 2011 Best of Houston® winners. In many categories, picking each year's winner is no easy task. We'll be spotlighting 20 of those categories, in which the winner had hefty competition from other Houston bars and restaurants.

But Katharine, you may be saying. It's December. I don't want ice cream right now.

To which I say: Tough. Here are some ice cream places for you anyway. Because I just ate four Snickers ice cream bars last night and a pint of Graeter's black raspberry last week and I am here to tell you that it is never too cold for ice cream. Especially in Houston. Especially this year. It's December! is never an excuse.

And you know what? I bet you anything you'll want some ice cream too when this is all said and done. If it makes you feel better, winter your scoops up by pouring hot fudge on top. You're welcome.

[Note: For purposes of this list, I included only ice cream and frozen custard. There is now enough great gelato in Houston to merit a list of its own one day...]

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Photo by Mandy Oaklander
10. Petite Sweets

At this River Oaks-area confectionery, you can get cake balls, mini cupcakes and macarons, but it's the custard we like best. Get it in dipped cone form -- an old classic -- or mixed up with owner Susan Molzan's mother's hot fudge recipe (as seen above), which combines the chocolate with vanilla and Kahlua.

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Photo by Troy Fields
9. Indika / Pondicheri

Anita Jaisinghani's two modern Indian restaurants have always made their own ice creams in house to garnish Jaisinghani's clever desserts (recall that she was once the pastry chef at Cafe Annie). At Indika, you'll find it in dishes like saffron ice cream with pistachios seen above, while at Pondicheri you can dig into a Bournvita ice cream sandwich in the summer.

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Lúcuma ice cream at Pollo Bravo.
8. Pollo Bravo

The ​Pollo Bravo on Richmond at the Beltway is the only place in town I know of that makes homemade lúcuma ice cream. In fact, they're still the only place I know that serves lúcuma ice cream, for that matter. The flavor is difficult to describe -- caramel custard or flan with a telltale chalkiness at the end -- and in its native Peru, lúcuma is the preferred ice cream flavor over any other.

7. La Paletera

The creamy dulce de leche ice cream bar at La Paletera was one of Robb Walsh's perennial favorites: "The mango and coconut ice creams at La Paletera are both excellent, but the dulce de leche paleta is stunning," he wrote. "The caramel ice cream bar tastes like the middle of a Milk Dud, only richer and creamier. Try one of these on a hot day."


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the cats
the cats

The cats are super excited to have made this list, and are even more excited to see some feedback. We're so tiny that we don't always make lists or get a chance to see what people are saying.We know our ice cream costs more than other manufacturers, and we'd like to tell you why, so that you know what goodness you're getting in every creamy mouthful. It's not because we  have big egos, and we aren't making a big profit (and we certainly aren't hipster foodies. Meow.).It's very important to us to use fresh and local ingredients. Our milk comes only from Texas dairy farmers Way Back When Dairy. Our egg yolks come from super happy chickens who are raised and cared for by the fantastic family at the Barry Farm (mentioned in the article). The Barry Farm kids hand pick our eggs and wash them themselves, and the happy family drives them over to the cats every Saturday. We support local and Texas, and as much as we wish it all were cheaper, we know first hand that everyone needs support to stand up to the big guys. We certainly do.One scoop of ice cream is equivalent to 4 ounces, which is what's in the little cup at the coffee shops, to whom we sell wholesale. They aren't plastic, they are compostable containers made from leftover wheat straw material with a compostable bio-plastic lid. The cats don't believe in adding more trash to the environment than we already do in our regular lives.We hope that you'll read the ingredients on our pints and compare them to a pint of lesser expensive, mass-manufactured ice cream. We're hoping that explains a little more. And, of course, we're mostly just hoping that everyone likes it. Ice cream is the cats' favorite food, which is why we're making it to start with.

Meowily yours,the catswww.fatcatcreamery.com

Clumsy Plumsy
Clumsy Plumsy

Brought 2 pints of Fat Cat (Eggnog and Peppermint, I think) to a Secret Santa/Potluck thing my friends were throwing - everyone was impressed! In fact, just yesterday someone asked me where I got them so they could buy some themselves.

As for me, I'm hoping to trackdown a pint of Chocolate Stout (which is the flavor I wanted to buy originally, but they were out). It ain't cheap, but all things considered, it's worth it.

The cats
The cats

Thanks, John! The cats know that as of this past weekend, Relish Fine Foods and Revival Market have plenty of Milk Chocolate Stout pints. Antidote Coffee and The Black Hole coffee shop both have single-serving containers. The cats have been busy making deliveries.

Eric S
Eric S

I love Hank's. It's one of my favorite places to take non-foodies. They invariably have never heard of Hank's but are always impressed by how good it is. 

I tried Fat Cat recently at Black Hole. It's tasty for sure but ridiculously priced. A little plastic cup that barely gave me 3 spoonfuls was $4!! I'm not going to resort to the Jay Francis Chicken Fried Steak pricing index, but even the Chocolate Bar gives better value for my ice cream buying dollar. 

Finally, it's a goddamn shame Eatsie Boys aren't on this list somewhere. Their caramel banana and pistachio ice creams were the best I ate this year. Also, being able to go to a bar and use their vanilla in stout floats was pretty sweet. 

thecats
thecats

Hey Eric. The cats hope you'll read our comment above. We also hope you liked our ice cream.

Tim
Tim

I bought my first, and so far only, container of FatCat about a week ago at Revival.

It was not cheap nor even moderately priced.  It was, however, more than worth it.  I wouldn't go so far as to say it ruined me for other ice creams, but I was already composing a comment in my head touting its virtues until I finally clicked through to the third page of the article and saw that it had made the cut.

the cats
the cats

Thanks, Tim! The cats are so, so pleased that you liked it.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

The only reason Eatsie Boys isn't on the list is because I thought they were focusing on the food truck/brewery now and weren't serving anymore. Are they still? That'd be great!

Eric S
Eric S

I think they're still making ice cream. When I had their food about a month ago, they were serving the ice cream alongside the pork snuggies and other savory menu items. Also, when I was at Paulie's last night, the eatsie boys gelato was on the menu. 

eatsie boys
eatsie boys

Hey Katharine! It's the Eboys. We are, in fact, still making ice cream in addition to our hot gourmet sandwiches. Both are now being offered with the same love and devotion on our intergalactic food truck. We hope you come by soon for some savory sammies and frozen awesome!

Matthew
Matthew

i thought maybe you were being very specific to best "ice creams" but i see you included a place that features custard. i ask then, how you could have left connie's custard off the list? a glaring omission!

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