Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Gets Artisanal with Scoops

Our fave flavors.

Van Leeuwen began like so many eateries did in the aughts—as a food truck, cute and yellow and roaming the streets of New York hawking artisanal scoops to fans. That was in 2008. Their first brick-and-mortar location debuted in Brooklyn in 2010, and the brand has been proliferating across the country ever since. Their new location at The Shops at Sportsmen’s Lodge is a happy place to be sure, done up in a brilliant sunburst colors. My kids light up like the sun too, once they’re through the doors.

Guests are welcome to sample different flavors before making their final choice, and that’s a part of every Van Leeuwen visit my kids love. The standard flavors are certainly available—cookies and cream, mint chip and vanilla bean—but it is Van Leeuwen’s more unique offerings that draw a crowd. Top sellers include Honeycomb (made with caramel candy from Australia), Sicilian pistachio (with pistachios procured from Italy) and Earl Grey Tea (flavored by Rishi Tea, with leaves from China’s Yunnan Province).

My toddler will not stray from a scoop of chocolate ice cream with sprinkles, no matter what she samples. But my 10-year-old eagerly tries anything. She got particularly adventurous on our last visit, tasting limited-time flavor Malted Milkshake and Fries, whose ingredients include Idaho potato flakes and garlic powder. But ultimately she chose Planet Earth, blue in hue thanks to spirulina, and flecked with green matcha tea cake. I was bowled over by a flavor called Big Face Coffee Affogato. It tastes like your favorite creamy coffee drink, only it’s deliciously cold, in scoop form, and eaten with a spoon.

When it comes to vegan choices, most ice cream shops offer one sad fruity sorbet. Not Van Leeuwen. Around a dozen wildly fun vegan choices are typically on the menu, made with alternatives like cashew or oat milk and spiked with coconut cream. On our visit, noteworthy vegan flavors included Churros and Fudge and Strawberry Shortcake. It’s a good bet you’ll love the vegan version of Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownie, whether you’re dairy-intolerant or not. 

While you indulge in the deliciousness, let the kids spread out a bit on the patio at Sportsmen’s Lodge. Adults can also take five. The people-watching is great, the landscaping is pretty at the new outdoor shopping mall, and hey, spring is in the air. 

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