While New England may still hold the title for most gallons of ice cream consumed per capita, Sarasota County is overflowing with new artisan creameries on top of our old standbys. Whether you're a strict vanilla person or looking for a spiced chai vegan ice cream, new ice cream shops are popping up with unique flavors and toppings, while still scooping out the classics. Let's take a tour:
5140 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, (941) 388-7672, localchill.com
The space looks Soho chic and the offerings are no less attractive. The oatmeal creampie flavor offers cookies with vanilla butter cream and vanilla ice cream rolled in torched marshmallows, while cereal milk ice cream pints are flying out of the takeout case. The shop also offers a rotating selection of vegan varieties. A hot cookie dough glaze and a Nutella ganache are just a few sauces to add on.
1220 Stickney Point Road, Sarasota, (941) 346-0202, orangeoctopusicecream.com
My No. 1 go-to here is toasted coconut: creamy, rich and chewy, with plenty of toasted coconut inside. The owner suggests topping it with hot fudge. Noted and agreed. The butterscotch blast with Heath bar candy, homemade brownie bits, chocolate-covered pretzels and butterscotch swirl is also terrfic. Get a week’s worth of a sugar rush here.
Multiple locations, bigolaf.com
A Suncoast favorite for a quarter-century, Big Olaf now operates as a franchise. Whether you shop at Detwiler's and need to pick up a gallon or go to the Big Olaf shop for a double cone leaning back on an Adirondack chair, the company has the best strawberry ice cream in town—incredibly creamy. A wide assortment of sugar-free options, as well as categories like nuts, fruits and candy and cookie fillings, too.
Multiple locations, tylersicecream.com
Ask a Midwesterner where to get a fudge swirl and any true chocoholic will recommend Tyler’s. Each five-gallon batch is made by hand, which means the flavors here often rotate. A double-scoop Dreamsicle on a hot day brings back wonderful childhood memories. There are low-fat and sugar-free options. I go all in for a double scoop of pumpkin during the fall.
1886 Stickney Point Road, Sarasota, (941) 921-5700, abelsicecream.com
The deep black cherry ice cream explodes with Bordeaux cherries, while the spumoni, nominated as one of Sarasota's best specialty flavors, is an Italian lover's dream of swirled pistachio, chocolate and cherry ice cream, almonds and a blend of fruits. Kahlua almond fudge is rich with thick chocolate swirls and the deep flavor of coffee, and specialty items like sorbets and frozen yogurt are just as notable.