Making a list of the best ice cream spots in Pittsburgh is like making a list of the best puppies and kitties: they’re all pretty great. I have yet to meet the person whose day doesn’t get a bit better after a few bites of their favorite flavor. Ice cream (and all of the other frozen treats that surround it) is the ultimate cure-all, the answer to a blazing hot afternoon or a scraped knee.
Even so, some shops stand out in a crowded field. Pittsburgh ice cream spans generations, from old-school shops with devoted followings to newcomers just starting to win hearts and stomachs. We scoured the city and suburbs to bring you a list of 10 of the very best places to get your frozen fix this summer.
Page Dairy Mart, South Side
Forget the summer solstice: for many in Pittsburgh, summer started way back on March 5th. That was the day Page Dairy Mart, the beloved roadside stand that’s been scooping since 1951, opened for the season. Located at the corner of East Carson Street and Becks Run Road, a day spent on the South Side isn’t complete without a stop at Page Dairy Mart. Don’t miss the excellent banana splits and specialty sundaes, like the one made with warm chocolate chip cookies from Homestead’s Nancy B’s Bakery. And if you need to balance all that sugar, Page Dairy Mart also serves up a small menu of sandwiches and finger foods.
Glen’s Custard, Springdale & Lower Burrell
If ice cream isn’t quite rich enough for you, then it’s time to try custard. Though it looks like classic soft serve, frozen custard adds eggs to the mix, creating a thicker, less airy dessert. And in Pittsburgh, nobody does custard better than Glen’s. For almost 70 years, folks have flocked to Springdale for sundaes, cones and a few rounds of mini golf. And with a recently opened second location in Lower Burrell (which boasts a full menu of burgers and sandwiches), Glen’s won’t be making a last stand for custard anytime soon.
Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream, Shadyside
In 2015, Chad Townsend left the world of line cooks and sauté pans to pursue a sweeter career. Along with his wife Lauren, Townsend launched Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream, selling ice cream at farmer’s markets and through a unique CSA program. This March, the Townsends opened a shop of their own on Highland Avenue in the former home of Oh Yeah! Ice Cream and Coffee. The bright, cheery scoop shop dishes up seasonal ice cream and sorbet flavors like Concord Grape, which are made with local ingredients whenever possible. Though a brand-new addition to Pittsburgh’s ice cream scene, Millie’s already feels like a neighborhood institution.
Antney’s Ice Cream, Westwood (near Green Tree)
With its sliding service windows and smattering of outdoor seating, Antney’s looks like any other roadside ice cream stand. Take a glance at the menu, however, and you’ll quickly realize that Antney’s is something special. For starters, they actually make their ice cream on the premises rather than dumping a pouch of mix into a machine. And their menu, which changes daily, brims with flavors that would be at home in a trendy Brooklyn shop: recent offerings included Salted Caramel with Candied Bacon and Lemon Poppyseed with Rose Petal Jam Swirl. Get a taster, which offers three small scoops, and marvel at the creativity on display at Antney’s.
Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor, Strip District
Over its nearly century-long history, Klavon’s has faced floods, several decades of vacancy and numerous changes in ownership. But through it all, the Strip District shop has maintained its old-timey charm. Klavon’s takes you back to a bygone era when corner shops would dispense everything from penny candy to tonics for aches and pains. The newest owners have made some updates; most notably, Klavon’s now serves up ice cream based on recipes from Penn State Creamery, the spot where Ben and Jerry honed their craft. The super rich ice cream and retro atmosphere make Klavon’s a can’t-miss spot on your next trip to the Strip.
Kerber’s Dairy, North Huntingdon
If you’re running low on ways to occupy your kids this summer break, head out to Kerber’s Dairy. The North Huntingdon destination offers all-season tubing, a beautiful miniature golf course, goats and sheep to feed—oh, and some darn good ice cream. Kerber’s started more than 50 years ago as a tiny dairy farm and milk store. Since then, they’ve launched their own ice cream line, making velvety hard ice cream unlike any you’ll find in the supermarket. You’ll find all of the classics as well as signature flavors like the Cow Patty: chocolate ice cream with cookie dough, brownie chunks and peanut butter. It tastes a whole lot better than the name lets on.
Pittsburgh Ice Cream Co., Downtown/mobile
Pittsburgh Ice Cream Co. may just be the city’s sweetest secret. Though the company has kept a fairly low profile since launching in 2014, owner Nathan Holmes and his team are quietly churning out some of Pittsburgh’s very best frozen treats. A spin through their menu leads you on a tour of local farmers and producers, from the Woolf Farm berries in the Strawberry Rhubarb to Dulcinea Craft Chocolate’s fermented cacao nibs in the Candied Cacao Nib. They also offer rotating sorbets (like the excellent Spicy Mango) for a refreshing, vegan delight. Find Pittsburgh Ice Cream Co. at Downtown’s Market Street Grocery as well as a handful of local farmers’ markets.
Leona’s Ice Cream Sandwiches, various locations
As a kid, few things were greater than scrounging enough change to buy a Chipwich from the cafeteria ice cream lady. Sharing my love of ice cream smashed between two cookies, Katie Heldstab and Christa Puskarich launched Leona’s Ice Cream Sandwiches in 2014. The sandwiches are creative and seasonal: if a local farm has a bumper crop of strawberries, you better believe they’ll end up in strawberry rhubarb ice cream between layers of buttery shortbread. And all of the ice cream is lactose-free, meaning more people can enjoy the unique pairings. Leona’s Ice Cream Sandwiches are available at a growing list of shops, restaurants and breweries around Pittsburgh.
Dave & Andy’s, Oakland
Since 1983, Dave & Andy’s has been luring Oakland pedestrians with the tantalizing scent of cooking waffle cones. If the smell isn’t endorsement enough, know that Dave & Andy’s also makes all of their own ice cream—an impressive feat, considering the shop has rotated through more than 200 flavors over the years. A few favorites stay on the menu year-round, including the wildly popular Birthday Cake, which comes loaded with homemade cake chunks and rainbow sprinkles. Right down to the M&M hidden at the bottom of every cone, Dave & Andy’s is a classic part of a Pittsburgh summer.
After spending a week eating ice cream every day, Stickler’s offered a needed change of pace. Forgoing dairy, Stickler’s dreams up new takes on the humble ice pop. Where most popsicles are artificially flavored and colored, Todd and Laura Saulle use whole ingredients to create punchy tastes and textures. Using fresh fruit and cane sugar, the husband and wife team freezes juicy pops like Pineapple Basil and Mixed Berry. Or try the Elvis, a combination of peanut butter, banana and honey that has quickly become a bestseller. Stickler’s recently opened a shop and production space in Millvale, adding to the truck and carts that travel the festival circuit.
And don’t miss . . .
Graeter’s, a family business that has been serving ice cream to Ohioans since 1870.
Sugar and Spice, which runs a popular shop in the Baldwin area, as well as an ice cream truck.
And Sugar Spell Scoops, Pittsburgh’s new vegan ice cream shop.
What did we miss? Wash those sticky fingers and leave your favorite in the comments below! And read more great guides to Pittsburgh here.