Sunday is National Ice Cream Day. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Carnival Barker's You can actually stop looking for ice cream now. All you really need to know is that Carnival Barker's, creator Aaron Barker's ice cream shop at Truck Yard (it doesn't roll away), is serving the flavor Nutella Vodka. Actually, that's not all you need to know. They have banana pudding -- there are real chunks in there, man -- rum raisin, and something called Fat Elvis with sweet peanut butter with chocolate-covered chips. It's simple ingredients and huge flavor. Easily one of the best.
Melt As both the newest location and the one that's farthest west, Melt is in a class of its own. Like its quirky artisan flavors, the building itself is off the beaten path -- in fact, if it weren't for the bright yellow exterior and the line of people out the door, you'd probably miss it. But on any given evening in Fort Worth's eclectic Southside neighborhood, most people seem to have the same idea: farm to cone.
With a menu of from-scratch ice cream flavors that changes monthly, you'll want to nom on all your favorites while they're still around. Popular picks include the ultra-rich Chocolate Chocolate (made with Dude, Sweet Chocolate) and the summer-on-a-cone Peach Crisp (using local Moore Jam and house-made crisp). There's even a vegan flavor for the dairy-averse; naturally it's made with AVOCA coffee that's brewed right down the street. That just leaves the million-dollar question: cup or cone? One of each, if you ask me.
Ham Orchards You know the ice cream is good when an engineer brings his train to a full-stop just to get some. Ham Orchards in Terrell, Texas sits behind the railroad tracks that run alongside Highway 80. Many an engineer has climbed out of his cabin and gone into Ham's, only to return ten minutes later, cone in hand.
Ham's puts its famous peaches to good use in every batch of soft-serve they make. The ice cream changes in concert with the peaches as different varieties become ripe. The further into the season, the more pronounced the flavors become, allowing floral notes and hints of tartness to make an appearance between the cold and the sweet. Little flecks of peach skin stud the otherwise honeyed texture. One lick and you'd stop a train, too. -- Kathryn DeBruler
Henry's Serving up his wares in Plano for more than 20 years, Henry Gentry's eponymous joint turns out a fantastic cup or cone. The flavor inventory features the old standbys but also some exotic rotators, like C'est la Vie (vanilla with brownie and strawberry swirl), Lavender Bean or the neon blue Dinosaur Egg. Service vessels range from the ordinary cup or cone to the souvenir baseball helmet or chocolate-tipped pretzel cone. With artwork from local kids adorning the walls and an incredibly accommodating staff, Henry's captures all the charms of childhood while offering a frozen treat that puts the run-of-the-mill scoop to shame. -- Justin Bitner
Sweet Firefly They have Cookie Monster Ice Cream. It's blue. Your kids will flip. Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy.
La Original Michoacana Not to be confused with the chain of Hispanic grocery stores, La Original Michoacana was established in the Bishop Arts District eight years ago by Elio Aguilar. Elio's family has been churning out deliciousness in Mexico since 1948, and he carries on the tradition making all of his ice cream -- along with popsicles, frozen bananas, paletas, and esquimales -- on site.
He told me that he uses an older style, Mexican-built machine that cranks ice cream at the same RPM as a human hand, which results in a product that's dense, creamy, and richer than anything else around. For me, his standard flavors are the best in town, especially the pistachio and rum raisin. But he's also not afraid to experiment; I've recently seen him offer queso/strawberry, avocado, jalapeno cornbread (!), pine nut (insanely good), and tequila-lime. -- Steven Harrell
Best of the Not-Really-Ice-Cream Rest Talenti OK, so it's gelato. But Talenti is a homegrown company that started out as a storefront on Knox Street. After a change of course and new investment partners, Talenti has been successfully selling crack gelato to the masses since '08.
A quality product, luxury-evoking packaging you can reuse to make your leftovers look pretty, and just plain addictive flavors are the reasons why Talenti is one of our favorite local ice creams. If you need further convincing, the following is a short list of some of Talenti's 25 flavors: Roman Raspberry, Sicilian Pistachio, Caribbean Coconut, Sea Salt Caramel and my personal favorite, Caramel Apple Pie. -- footbich
Best of the Not-Really-in-DFW Rest Blue Bell Another stretch, since it's not in DFW. But any natural born Texan will tell you that Blue Bell is the OG of ice creams (and to never put it in the microwave, you monster), and we salute with bent and broken spoons its 45 year commitment to frozen badassery on this, the most holy of food holidays. So until the average daily temperature drops back to the bitter cold of the lower 70s, ice cream happy hour will continue to take place an obscene number of times each week. Suck it, all the frozen yogurt stores. And your neon spoons, too. -- Sarah Blankenship
Because Otherwise You'll Stab Us Braum's Points for ubiquity, if nothing else.
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