Dickey's Frozen Custard
Expect a super creamy and rich French vanilla swirl in a generous portion. The richness can be offset by fresh berries if you like, or go for rainbow sprinkles if you’re looking for more color.
Dickey's Frozen Custard 1710 I Street NW, Washington DC 20006 (map); 202-861-0669
Photograph: Julie Skarwecki
The Dairy Godmother
The Dairy Godmother serves as a gathering place for Del Ray neighborhood residents, and with good reason—their custard is killer. Whether you order vanilla, chocolate, or the flavor of the day, the custard is remarkably light and natural-tasting. This is the most velvety of all the custards I tried. You can get a small custard in a cup ($2.75), or get it in a shake or sundae.
Us DCers are thrilled that the great Danny Meyer has graced our city with not one, but two Shake Shacks. While I was looking forward to trying the fabled Shack Burger, I couldn’t wait to try the custard. The flavor of the day, peanut butter and jelly, did not disappoint. The custard itself was peanut butter flavor, with grape jelly evenly mixed in—every bite was sweet and salty and tasted exactly like the classic sandwich without the pesky bread to adhere to your teeth. Super creamy and smooth, sweet but not overpowering—you may not want to share this one.
Frozen Dairy Bar & Boardwalk Pizza
If you’re looking for great Korean, Vietnamese, or Chinese food, D.C. denizens know to head to the strip malls of Falls Church. After a spicy and salty bowl of pho, head to the Frozen Dairy Bar & Boardwalk Pizza for frozen custard. Their vanilla custard has a punch of vanilla flavor—some might find it too aggressive. Fortunately, it seems to have less sugar than others, which balances out the vanilla. It's buttery and thick without any graininess and pleasantly coats a spoon.
Milwaukee Frozen Custard
Chantilly isn’t a place most of us city dwellers deign to go—you drive to the boonies and then keep going. That being said, Milwaukee Frozen Custard is a must-stop if you find yourself that deep into the northern Virginia suburbs. A small cone of vanilla ($3.40) was far from small—the giant scoop barely teetered atop its cake cone stand. Smooth, buttery, even a little eggy, it’s not too sweet and surprisingly light.
Carmen's Italian Ice & Café
I grew up in Rockville, and I used to go to Carmen’s every Friday after school for frozen custard. While I usually get the gigantic Carmen’s Cruncher, a small cup of vanilla ($2.80) hits the spot because it's made right. The custard is smooth, creamy, and just thick enough. Though it's on the sweet side, you likely won't be able to stop scraping the Styrofoam bowl with your plastic spoon to get the last melty drips.