I literally scream for ice cream, and in this town, there's no shortage of artisanal ice cream parlours to quench your thirst and cool you down. This summer, through rigorous investigative journalism, we give you the inside scoop (get it?) on the best creameries in Victoria, BC. Buckle up.
Best Soft Serve
We'll start with a crowd-pleaser. The Beacon Drive-In was built in 1958 and their menu has stayed firmly planted in the 50s. This Victoria institution serves up breakfast, burgers, and milkshakes but is primarily known for its no-nonsense soft serve. This classic whipped dessert is the cone of your dreams - if you can stomach the lineup. It's an oldie but a goodie.
Pro Tip: located directly across from Beacon Hill Park, stop here first to load up your picnic basket.
Best Ice Cream Sandy
Hands down, five-stars, Cold Comfort! Their resolve to use only organic, fair trade, and seasonal ingredients is a difference you can taste. And with oodles of vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free options, there is no limit to their ice cream. Perhaps the most noteworthy offering on their menu is a dizzying array of ice cream sandwiches. One is immediately impressed by the elevated ice cream–to–cookie ratio; the perfect combination of ice cream and tender butter cookies is doughy, fluffy, and melty without the cardboard aftertaste. With the motto "Doing whatever the Hell we feel like since 2010", this isn't your typical gas station freezer ice cream sandwich - the kind made from flavourless ice cream (if you can call it that) and two chocolate wafers that stick to your fingers (but no shade if that's your preference!). Try their Burnt Sugar & Salt ice cream sandwich. Caramelized organic cane sugar with a custard-like texture, perfectly salted with local sea salt. Need I say more? No. But I will. These dairy-free sandwiches are made without palm oil, an ingredient often used as a substitute, which some people (and all orangutans) appreciate due to sustainability issues.
Fun Fact: The fine folks at Cold Comfort are fellow Chamber of Commerce award winners, picking up the 2022 Business of the Year award (1-10 Employees). Congrats!
Best Ice Cream Delivery
If you are a local, you already know and love 49 Below Craft Ice Cream. And if you are really informed, then you might just know they offer a super-exclusive-limited-edition ice cream subscription service, or what I call Happy Mail. The Pint Club subscriber receives two pints delivered every 30 days. One classic, everyday flavour and one unique monthly membership pint. Past membership flavours include wonderful and bizarre combinations like Rhubarb Cardamom Brittle, Honeycomb, Matcha, and Pumpkin Maple Marshmallow, to name a few. And, in case you're wondering, there is no shame in eating ice cream straight from the carton while answering the door to your mail delivery of ... more ice cream. No shame at all.
More of a gelato guy? Victoria's Mosi Gelato is our go-to for a scrumptious iced pick-me-up. But first - let's clear up an age-old debate. What's the difference between ice cream and gelato? Stefano Mosi, owner and founder of Mosi Gelato tells me gelato is denser and lower in fat and sugar than commercially made ice cream. It represents the flavour "more accurately" because it has less air whipped into it than ice cream does. As a result, the taste is ... "more vivid." According to Healthline, "either can be part of a healthy diet when consumed occasionally and in moderation." The perfect diet doesn't exi---.
For the Mosi family, handcrafted gelato is a tradition dating back to the 1920s in Torino, Italy. Today, Stefano sources locally grown ingredients from Saanich Peninsula farmers to maintain the integrity of his traditional Italian gelato. For a vegan, gluten-free customer, Mosi offers a variety of fruity sorbettos. Recently, they took home a gold medal (NBD!) from the Hollywood Gelato Festival for their island-inspired flavour, Seamist Sorbetto, an iced treat infused with Silk Road lemongrass and mint tea. It's silky, satin, squisito!
Best for the Kid at Heart
Founded in 1979 in Québec City, Chocolats Favoris has dozens of locations in Québec and Ontario, but, lucky for us - Victoria hosts their only chocolate shop in the West. And we don't take it for granted! Often with a lineup outside its doors and down Government Street, this magical Wonka-esque chocolate shop is the ultimate sugar fix. It offers a unique dipping experience with 12 varieties of real chocolate for your dipped cone. Our favourite? The Cotton Candy Unicorn (pictured here with my over served and very happy child). Creamy white chocolate dunked in a thick technicolour fondue, strewn with crispy sprinkles, topped with a tuft of cotton candy, it's an aesthetic creation as much as a culinary one. It's also ginormous. Don't eat dinner first, just ... don't. It's calorie heaven.
Pro Tip: Take the party home with a tin of their fondue.
Best Vegan Ice Cream
Ok, this dairy-free soft serve is going to blow your mind! Snuggled in the cutest little cart right here at Uptown, Softys offers a creamy dairy-free soft serve made fresh from gluten-free oat or coconut milk and locally sourced ingredients. When you support Softys, you're considering the environment. This dessert is served from an all-electric cart in 100% compostable packaging. That's not all! Softys donates 1% of their sales to 1% for the planet. That's enough to convince me to stop by there ... every day. With their location approximately 9 seconds out our shop doors, it goes without saying - we're becoming loyal Softys customers!
Happy Summer, Victoria!
The Green Kiss