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8 Places to Find Swirls of Soft Serve Ice Cream Around D.C.

Smooth frozen treats are available in classic vanilla and chocolate or strawberry shortcake and dulce de leche

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With so many excellent places to enjoy hard-packed ice cream around D.C., it could be easy to overlook all the tasty soft serve that’s churning inside machines. In addition to old-school ice cream trucks patrolling playgrounds and public pools to a music box soundtrack, various D.C. area shop offer top-notch swirls that range from classic vanilla and chocolate to imaginative flavors like strawberry shortcake and Mexican vanilla dulce de leche.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Rita's Italian Ice & Frozen Custard (Multiple Locations)

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2318 Rhode Island Ave NE
Washington, DC 20018
(202) 636-7482
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This Philly-based chain first made a name with its Italian ice, “water ice,” in local parlance. But their frozen custards are top notch and swirled sky high. Rita’s has several locations around the District and offers lots of flavors, including cotton candy, cake batter, caramel macchiato, cheesecake, and many more. Custards can also be combined with Italian ice.

2. Roy Boys

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2108 8th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 558-9382
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Come to Roy Boys in Shaw for the crispy fried chicken sandwiches and oyster platters. Stay for the frozen custard tacos. Selections change frequently — you’ll have to ask — but they are guaranteed to be loaded with creamy soft serve and smothered with toppings and sauce. One recent ice cream taco featured chocolate and vanilla swirl with cinnamon churros, whipped cream, and sprinkles.

3. Milk Bar

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1525 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 506-1357
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What started as a single quirky bake shop in New York City has evolved into a national retail juggernaut. Founder Christina Tosi and her team at Milk Bar have kept their flair for whimsical flavors and toppings. In addition to the now-classic cereal milk soft serve, Milk Bar currently offers strawberry shortcake. Order cups, pints, or layer a custom parfait with cake and strawberry sauce. Crunchy toppings like cornflake crunch, cake crumbs, and sprinkles are also available.

David Chang’s Momofuku and Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar open in CityCenter soon Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

4. Taqueria Las Gemelas

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1280 4th St NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 866-0550
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The helado suave at this new taco counter inside La Cosecha market comes in two flavors, a familiar chocolate and a deeply rich dulce de leche. Customers can order a swirled cup for $5, and add a topping of heirlom corn tortilla chips and mole negro chocolate sauce for a $1 more. — Gabe Hiatt

Dulce de leche soft-serve comes with crushed tortilla chips and a mole negro chocolate sauce at Taqueria las Gemelas Leah Judson/For Las Gemelas

5. Southwest Soda Pop Shop

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1142 Maine Ave SW
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 981-6999
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This family-owned restaurant and ice cream parlor on the Southwest Waterfront exudes happiness and commands a loyal following. Soft serve flavors include vegan mango and raspberry — in addition to traditional vanilla and chocolate — with quality toppings like brownie chunks, various cereals, sprinkles, and gummies.

6. The Creamery

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110 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 549-4527
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Established in 1984, this Alexandria ice cream shop sells swirls of frozen custard in classic vanilla and chocolate.

7. Peterson's Ice Cream Depot

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7150 Main St
Clifton, VA 20124
(703) 830-7898
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Lines form often at this quaint, family-owned ice cream shop in a converted carriage house in Clifton, Virginia. In addition to specialty hot dogs and a wide selection of traditional ice cream flavors, Peterson’s serves vanilla, chocolate, and swirl frozen custards in a cup or large waffle cone.

Peanut butter-dipped soft serve from Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot in Clifton
Peanut butter-dipped soft serve from Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot in Clifton
Gabe Hiatt/Eater D.C.

8. Hovermale's Tastes Best

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9011 Livingston Rd
Fort Washington, MD 20744
(301) 248-2710

This old-school, cash-only custard stand has been serving tall vanilla, chocolate, and swirl cones Price George’s County customers since 1954. Current hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., but check their Facebook page for updates.

1. Rita's Italian Ice & Frozen Custard (Multiple Locations)

2318 Rhode Island Ave NE, Washington, DC 20018

This Philly-based chain first made a name with its Italian ice, “water ice,” in local parlance. But their frozen custards are top notch and swirled sky high. Rita’s has several locations around the District and offers lots of flavors, including cotton candy, cake batter, caramel macchiato, cheesecake, and many more. Custards can also be combined with Italian ice.

2318 Rhode Island Ave NE
Washington, DC 20018

2. Roy Boys

2108 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Come to Roy Boys in Shaw for the crispy fried chicken sandwiches and oyster platters. Stay for the frozen custard tacos. Selections change frequently — you’ll have to ask — but they are guaranteed to be loaded with creamy soft serve and smothered with toppings and sauce. One recent ice cream taco featured chocolate and vanilla swirl with cinnamon churros, whipped cream, and sprinkles.

2108 8th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

3. Milk Bar

1525 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
David Chang’s Momofuku and Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar open in CityCenter soon Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

What started as a single quirky bake shop in New York City has evolved into a national retail juggernaut. Founder Christina Tosi and her team at Milk Bar have kept their flair for whimsical flavors and toppings. In addition to the now-classic cereal milk soft serve, Milk Bar currently offers strawberry shortcake. Order cups, pints, or layer a custom parfait with cake and strawberry sauce. Crunchy toppings like cornflake crunch, cake crumbs, and sprinkles are also available.

1525 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20005

4. Taqueria Las Gemelas

1280 4th St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Dulce de leche soft-serve comes with crushed tortilla chips and a mole negro chocolate sauce at Taqueria las Gemelas Leah Judson/For Las Gemelas

The helado suave at this new taco counter inside La Cosecha market comes in two flavors, a familiar chocolate and a deeply rich dulce de leche. Customers can order a swirled cup for $5, and add a topping of heirlom corn tortilla chips and mole negro chocolate sauce for a $1 more. — Gabe Hiatt

1280 4th St NE
Washington, DC 20002

5. Southwest Soda Pop Shop

1142 Maine Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024

This family-owned restaurant and ice cream parlor on the Southwest Waterfront exudes happiness and commands a loyal following. Soft serve flavors include vegan mango and raspberry — in addition to traditional vanilla and chocolate — with quality toppings like brownie chunks, various cereals, sprinkles, and gummies.

1142 Maine Ave SW
Washington, DC 20024

6. The Creamery

110 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314

Established in 1984, this Alexandria ice cream shop sells swirls of frozen custard in classic vanilla and chocolate.

110 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314

7. Peterson's Ice Cream Depot

7150 Main St, Clifton, VA 20124
Peanut butter-dipped soft serve from Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot in Clifton
Peanut butter-dipped soft serve from Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot in Clifton
Gabe Hiatt/Eater D.C.

Lines form often at this quaint, family-owned ice cream shop in a converted carriage house in Clifton, Virginia. In addition to specialty hot dogs and a wide selection of traditional ice cream flavors, Peterson’s serves vanilla, chocolate, and swirl frozen custards in a cup or large waffle cone.

7150 Main St
Clifton, VA 20124

8. Hovermale's Tastes Best

9011 Livingston Rd, Fort Washington, MD 20744

This old-school, cash-only custard stand has been serving tall vanilla, chocolate, and swirl cones Price George’s County customers since 1954. Current hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., but check their Facebook page for updates.

9011 Livingston Rd
Fort Washington, MD 20744

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