Indulgent ice cream. Gourmet gelato. Sweet sorbet. Smooth soft serve. Frosty frozen yogurt. Canada’s capital is a hotbed of delicious and inventive frozen treats that will satisfy all your cool cravings. Here are some of the best Ottawa-made frosty desserts—including ice cream alternatives—that will keep you licking your way through the city on hot summer days and throughout the year.
Walk into this stylish café in the ByWard Market neighbourhood and you’ll instantly be lured by the fresh, decadent pastries and artisanal gelato made on site. Mantovani 1946 uses traditional ingredients imported from Italy, such as Sicily’s best pistachios from Bronte and the world’s best hazelnuts from Piedmont. They also offer dairy-free sorbettos made with fresh fruit pulp as well as diabetic-friendly flavours.
Lois ‘N’ Frima’s
The corner of George and William Streets in the ByWard Market area is a dessert destination with two sweet staples: BeaverTails pastries and Lois ‘N’ Frima’s Ice Cream. Lois ‘N’ Frima’s has been making classic, rich ice cream since 1984 using Ontario's farm-fresh milk and cream. Their roster of 60 flavours includes Black Cherry, Chocolate Orange Sunshine and Strawberriana. Non-dairy and sugar-free options are available, as well as Ontario-made Gaylea soft serve. In addition to their ByWard Market kiosk, you can get your Lois ‘N’ Frima fix in Stittsville (West Ottawa).
Moo Shu Ice Cream and Kitchen
Fun with ice cream is the motto at Moo Shu. Owner and chef Liz Mok creates small-batch ice cream and ice cream truffles using pure Ontario dairy, the best premium dark chocolate and whenever possible, local ingredients from the bountiful Ottawa region. The shop on Bank Street in Centretown offers mainstay flavours like Black Sesame or Ginger Vanilla Bean, as well as rotating flavours like Black Cumin & Chocolate, Red Bean or Vegan London Fog. Visit on Wednesdays to try their famous bubble waffles that come in flavours like Earl Grey and Apricot & Cardamom. The lucky cat logo is the perfect backdrop for Instagram snaps or selfies!
Stella Luna’s gelato is as sweet as its backstory. Ottawan Tammy Giuliani traveled to Italy, married an Italian and returned home to start a family. She later trained in Italy as a master gelato maker before opening the original Stella Luna in the Old Ottawa South neighbourhood in 2011. Since then, her artisanal gelato has received awards around the world (including Italy) and she’s opened a second location in Hintonburg. The handcrafted gelato is made with only the best ingredients, and the sorbets are dairy-free, fat-free and many consist of 50% pure fruit! Try special flavours like the Fat Elvis (peanut butter, banana, skor, oreo and caramel) or Lemon Curd, Cranberry & Ginger.
The Ottawa-born brother and sister team behind Farinella were raised with Italian traditions and received culinary training in Italy. They’re now renown for metre-long pizzas, savoury and sweet treats, and incredible gelato. Visit their original eatery in Little Italy or the Kanata location for flavours by the scoop or half-pint, granitas, or frappés (milkshakes). Vegan options available.
The Merry Dairy
In 2012, The Merry Dairy started serving premium soft-serve out of a retro-cool food truck, and in 2017, they opened a storefront location on a residential street in Hintonburg. The larger space means more creations, such as their unique (and nut-free) Midwest-style frozen custard which is denser and smoother than standard ice cream. Order a scoop or twist in a homemade gluten-free waffle, or one of their other irresistible treats like ice cream sandwiches, floats, fruit popsicles, and cupcakes. The community shop also hosts unique promotions, such as their Rhubarb Stalk Exchange: locals can trade fresh rhubarb for “$ RHUBCOIN $” which can be redeemed for ice cream!
A summer day spent at sandy Britannia Beach, cycling on the pathways, or skiing on the winter trail are perfect excuses to stop at Beachconers for ice cream. Located just across from Britannia Park, the eclectic neighbourhood shop serves coffee, local products and their homemade ice cream. Playful and seasonal flavours include strawberry basil, Nutella cheesecake and vegan chocolate marmalade.
Carp Custom Creamery
The village of Carp, about 30 minutes drive west of downtown Ottawa is a treat destination thanks to the highly skilled team at Carp Custom Creamery. Their ice cream is crafted on site in small batches with local ingredients whenever possible. Visit the shop any day for over a dozen scoop flavour options, get a soft-serve swirl, or a special creation like an ice cream taco, float or sundae. Dozens of flavours are also available in take-home tubs, and gluten free and vegan options are always available.
When visiting beautiful Gatineau Park, it’s hard to ignore the colourful ice cream shop located directly across the street from the park’s Visitor Centre. Located a 20-minute drive from downtown Ottawa in Chelsea, Quebec, La Cigale serves a variety of treats, including their legendary homemade ice cream. Wander the pretty gardens while you enjoy your scoops in a cup, a cone or in a cookie sandwich. Plus, you can feel good knowing that the packaging is eco-friendly!
Oat & Mill
Did you know that you can get protein and fibre in a vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free frozen treat? The folks at Oat & Mill, who grew up in an Ottawa farming community, were inspired to churn Canadian oats into an oat cream. While they don’t have a storefront or scoop shop, their luscious and decadent ice cream alternative is available in pint format at retail locations throughout the greater areas of Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. Get yours at grocery chains like Metro or Fortino’s, at local health food stores like Kardish and at bakeries like Little Jo Berry’s. Visit their website to find the location nearest you.
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