Location: 361 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto
Apparently chocolate shops are pretty great at making ice cream, because Soma has some of the best gelato in the city, and Chocolateria on Roncey serves some top-shelf stuff. It’s not “best in the city” good, but it’s a respectable scoop of ouce cream.
They have a handful of interesting flavours; I went with the burnt toffee chocolate, which features a tasty mix of chocolate and burnt toffee ice cream.
It’s high-quality ice cream. The chocolate is satisfyingly rich, and while the burnt toffee could have had a deeper flavour (it basically just tastes like regular caramel), it worked very well with the chocolate.
My only real issue was that the texture was a bit gummier than I’d like, but aside from that it was quite enjoyable.
Location: 630 The Queensway, Etobicoke
If you’re looking for soft serve ice cream in Toronto, you can’t go wrong with Tom’s. It’s been a summertime institution since 1969 and, shockingly enough, still sells some of the best soft serve in the city.
In a city where so many old-school restaurants skate by on nostalgia alone (I’m thinking of vintage burger joints like Johnny’s and Apache), I tend to approach years-old restaurants with a healthy dose of skepticism. Toronto’s food scene has improved astronomically over the decades, and a place like Johnny’s (which routinely used to top “best burger in the city” lists despite serving awful pre-fab junk) is a palpable reminder of how far we’ve come.
Tom’s Dairy Freeze, however, is a delightful exception to this rule; the soft serve here is top-shelf stuff.
On this particular visit I went simple with vanilla ice cream and a chocolate dip. The dip is nothing special, but the ice cream is phenomenal. It’s rich, creamy, and has a really satisfying vanilla flavour. Anyone who wants to sell soft serve in the city should be forced to come here and take notes.
Location: 1167 Queen Street West, Toronto
Hollywood Cone is basically a superior version of Sweet Jesus — they have a similar selection of social-media-friendly cones, along with other Instagram-bait creations like elaborate milkshakes topped with entire doughnuts or slices of pie.
The quality of the ice cream itself is a solid upgrade over Sweet Jesus. And yet the place seems to be struggling to attract customers — go figure. On this particular day, I was actually intending to get a scoop from Bang Bang, but the line-up was intense, even by their standards. Meanwhile, Hollywood Cone (which is just a few blocks away) was a ghost town.
I ordered the Salted Caramel Skor (well, technically I ordered something else and they gave me the wrong thing — but I couldn’t be bothered to correct them), which comes topped with Skor bits, salted caramel sauce, and a chocolate drizzle.
It’s not bad at all. The sauces were middle-of-the-road, but the real attraction here is the ice cream. It’s super creamy and rich, and it lacks the artificial sweetness that you find in lesser soft serve. It’s really, really good.
Like at Sweet Jesus, their creations are designed to be Instagram-friendly cones instead of the sundaes they’re clearly meant to be, so the toppings run out pretty quickly. But unlike at Sweet Jesus, the quality of the ice cream is so good that you don’t particularly mind.
It’s odd that the place isn’t doing better than it is, though the aforementioned service issues don’t help, nor does the fact that the place is weirdly dirty and dark, with an atmosphere that feels more like a dive bar than an ice cream shop.
Location: 920 Queen Street East, Toronto
I like Ed’s a lot, though it tends to be a bit hit-and-miss. Still, it’s one of the better places for ice cream in the city, and as you can see from the picture above, it’s popular.
And while the quality is a bit inconsistent, their sweet cream is always delicious. It’s about as simple as a flavour can get; as the name implies, it’s basically just sweetened cream. It’s proof that if you’re starting with good quality stuff, you don’t need elaborate flavourings and chunks mixed in.
My second scoop was chocolate, and remember when I said this place is hit-and-miss? Yeah, it was pretty middling.
I also checked out the Roncesvalles location recently; I got one scoop of sweet cream, and one of chocolate peanut butter. Again, the sweet cream was amazing, and the other flavour was just okay.
I should probably just stick with sweet cream.
Location: 443 King Street West, Toronto
I mentioned recently that Hollywood Gelato is a strong contender for my favourite gelato in the city. Also on that list? Soma Chocolatemaker. You wouldn’t think that a place that makes great chocolate would also make great gelato, but hey, why not? They also sell some pretty tasty cookies, so I guess they’re just great at everything.
I got the dark chocolate gelato, and as you’d expect from a place with the word “chocolate” in their name, the flavour was outstanding. It had a deep, rich chocolate flavour with a perfect balance of sweetness. The creamy, almost fudgey texture was deeply satisfying.
I’d be surprised if there were a better scoop of chocolate gelato in the city.