Our review of the most unique local ice cream spots

Baked Bear's ice cream is a sugar overload, but if you're Instagram-oriented, it may be worth it. Baked Bear was one of four local ice cream hotspots we visited on our journey to discover the tastiest, most picturesque ice cream around.

Baked Bear's ice cream is a sugar overload, but if you're Instagram-oriented, it may be worth it. Baked Bear was one of four local ice cream hotspots we visited on our journey to discover the tastiest, most picturesque ice cream around.

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Four Black & White editors went hunting for the tastiest and most Instagram-able ice cream joints nearby. They went to four stores—Alpaca Dessert, The Baked Bear, Class 520 and Dolcezza Gelato—and asked for one of their most popular orders.

Meet your critics:

Jenny: She loves ice cream, but her slight lactose sensitivity makes enjoying this dessert painful at times (although still worth it). Jenny loves fruity flavors, but doesn’t appreciate a lot of sugar since it makes her skin break out.

Ella: Ice cream usually isn’t her first choice when it comes to dessert. But, since she’s Thai, she’s automatically a rolled ice cream expert—even though she’s only had it once before.

Yiyang: She’s into everything food-related and didn’t hesitate to accept this invitation for a tasting adventure. She firmly believes frozen treats are the best kind of desserts.

Katherine: Although she thinks few ice creams can beat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, she’d never turn down a taste test of these unique treats. She’s a sucker for cream, chocolate and caramel.

The bubble waffle cones at Alpaca Dessert come with your choice of three toppings and a drizzle sauce. We appreciated its generous portions, bright design and tasty waffle.

Alpaca Dessert: $7.50

Alpaca Dessert is one of many food stands in The Spot Asian Food Hall in Rockville, MD. Customers are free to take their order and wander among various nearby food stalls, including Poki DC and Gong Cha.

Our order: We ordered matcha ice cream in a regular flavored egg waffle. Egg waffle ice cream, made of a soft waffle cone topped with unique ice cream flavors such as sesame and matcha, is a popular street food in Hong Kong. At Alpaca Dessert, you can get three free toppings and a drizzle sauce, so we added colorful mochi pieces, strawberries, Oreo Pocky sticks and caramel drizzle to top off the ice cream.

The sweet ice cream and crunchy waffle paired well, and the portions were generous and filling. But the mochi topping quickly became hard when it got cold, which made it harder to chew. This dessert can get messy, so make sure to have a few napkins on hand. It’s a bit difficult to eat, but definitely fun to share with a few friends.

Tldr; generous portions, fun toppings, comes with a waffle

Our cookie sandwich looked beautiful on camera, and the staff assisted our search for the best taste and aesthetic.

The Baked Bear: $6.00

Created by two childhood best friends in San Diego, The Baked Bear has made its way over to the east coast and opened a location in North Bethesda, MD. They offer a variety of original-recipe ice cream cookie sandwiches.

Our order: We ordered Blackberry Crumble ice cream, sandwiched between Gooey Butter Cake and Red Velvet cookies and topped with rainbow sprinkles.

With 13 brightly colored and creative ice cream flavors, 11 cookie options and 12 different toppings, a large variety is certainly offered. The staff here is super friendly and gave thorough explanations of certain flavor combinations, as well as their own recommendations for customers. They also offer a “Vegan Chocolate Chip” flavor, made from soy. You can choose to have your ice cream sandwich heated or “hot pressed” into a gooey delight.

With outdoor seating, The Baked Bear is a great spot to sit and relax with friends. For those who value the “gram over taste,” the ice cream sandwiches are super social-media worthy—but the combination of ice cream with two cookies created a sugar overload that was difficult to stomach.

Tldr; very sweet but also aesthetically pleasing

An employee at Class 520 rolls a vanilla base ice cream with chunks of frozen mango and strawberry mixed in. The store’s ice cream is more icy and refreshing than the average.

 

Class 520: $6.84

Thai rolled ice cream has been flooding social media posts, with everyone curious about this unique way of presenting ice cream. Starting in a liquid form, the ice cream is “stir-fried” on a freezing stainless-steel plate until solidified. It’s then flattened into a sheet and scraped into little rolls that fit vertically into a cup so that customers can see the swirls.

Our Order: Mad Mango (mango and strawberry flavored ice cream base). Our toppings were mango popping boba, strawberry wafers and fresh sliced strawberries.

Compared to regular ice cream, this Thai rolled ice cream was refreshing due to its fruity flavor and light, airy texture. The ice cream overall is more icy than creamy, and you can taste chopped mango chunks inside. This is a good choice if you don’t like desserts that are too sweet and rich. One of the best parts of the experience is watching your order be made fresh in front of you. The overall presentation was nice with a decent selection of toppings to choose from.

Tldr; milder taste and more refreshing

Dolcezza Gelato claims a prime location in Bethesda Row. We tasted their blood orange and honey tangerine sorbettos, and appreciated the robust, unique flavors despite the modest portion size.

Dolcezza Gelato: $6.04

Since first opening in Georgetown in 2004, Dolcezza has expanded to several locations in D.C., Virginia and the Bethesda Row location that we visited. They have a reputation for high-quality gelato.

Our order: We ordered a small cup of the blood orange and honey tangerine sorbettos.

The serving size was smaller than we expected, so it was definitely the least shareable of all the ice creams we tried. Although we disagreed on whether it was refreshing or simply too sweet, we agreed that the flavors were robust and particularly true to their fruits. The honey tangerine was especially a hit.

The store was packed, even on a weeknight. Perhaps as a result, some of the more unique flavors on their menu (Crookneck Pumpkin, Sweet Potato Pecan Praline) weren’t available. Despite the rush, the atmosphere and staff were warm and friendly.

If you’re looking for value size or presentation, Dolcezza probably isn’t your best bet; the portions are modest and can come out melting. But its prime location and pure, bright flavors can’t be overlooked.

Tldr; small portions, high variability in flavor sweetness, nice atmosphere

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