The Five Best Ice Cream Parlors Near Stanford Campus

University is a stressful time and it is important to find a balance between academic life and social life. Next time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, why not take a break and satisfy your sweet tooth with a tasty treat? Through rigorous analysis (and plenty of taste testing), I’ve identified the five best Stanford bike-distance ice cream spots to enjoy with your friends.

Town and Country owns two of the five ice cream parlors on this list: Cudos and Tin Pot. Cudos combines custar and To donuts to make his signature name. It definitely has the coolest marketing slogan of the bunch! And I must admit the hot mini donuts on the side added a really nice contrast to the cold custard. The main attraction of Cudos isn’t the flavors per se – the custard is the only base. The real diversity comes in the toppings. You can choose from a wide assortment of pre-made topping collections, ranging from apple pie to campfire s’mores. I opted for the banana split and found the consistency to be thicker than I expected, while the cherry filling tasted artificial. The custard was delicious and the mini donut tied it all together.

Just across the parking lot from Cudos is Tin Pot, which prides itself on putting its own spin on homemade ice cream. Of the five places I tried, Tin Pot was definitely the most classic example of an ice cream shop, with a wide assortment of flavors in tubs, as well as the ability to put scoops in a cup or a cone. They also have baked goods on the menu and you have the option of having your ice cream sandwiched between two homemade cookies. I tried the blue jasmine and blackberry lemon crumble in a mug. The blue jasmine had a particularly pleasant aftertaste, and was overall sweet and delicious, if not a bit basic. The lemon blackberry crumble was very refreshing – I’ve always been a sucker for fruit ice cream. My only criticism was that it was more like lemon ice cream with sudden bursts of blackberry rather than an even distribution.

The following three stores – Gelato Classico, Scoop Microcreamery, and Salt & Straw – form an ice cream triangle in downtown Palo Alto. Gelato Classico is a quaint shop on Emerson Street. Besides ice cream, there is an assortment of milk teas, coffee and cookies. I’m not a math major, but I’ve counted over 40 flavors of ice cream alone. Delicious! I ordered the Tiramisu ice cream. Gelato Classico definitely had the smoothest consistency of any place I visited, as the ingredients and process for making the gelato is slightly different from more traditional methods. But that also means the ice melts incredibly fast, so you can’t take your time with this one. The waffle cone also had a nice crunchy taste and I liked the blend of all the flavors together. All in all a great place to grab a cold treat, but remember – eat it fast!

After Gelato Classico, I visited Scoop Microcreamery just around the corner. Scoop is known for making its ice cream in small batches on-site using liquid nitrogen to achieve a smooth, creamy consistency. By the time I stepped foot in the store, a new batch of waffle cones were baking on the waffle makers just inside the door creating an appealing aroma. Plus, the menu is packed with dishes like shakes, sundaes, and splits, as well as more than a dozen flavors of seasonal ice cream. The flavor I chose to test was Spumoni, a blend of three flavors with layered nuts. I’ve never been a big fan of putting solid things in ice cream, as I prefer something that goes down easily. But I have to admit that the nuts were completely harmless to me and the mix of different flavors was outstanding.

The last place I went to was a little further up University Avenue called Salt & Straw. The interior of the store was dark and welcoming, with several places where people could sit and enjoy their ice cream. Currently, Salt & Straw has no other products beyond spoons and cups on the menu, but plans to add milkshakes from January. They offered a slew of classic flavors as well as holiday-themed ones. The ice cream in the store is made and shipped from Portland twice a week, and there’s a fridge full of pints if you just want to grab and go. I tried the gingerbread cookie dough flavor and personally loved the mix of gingerbread and vanilla in the ice cream. I also found the ingredients well integrated.

Ice cream is a delicious treat to enjoy with your friends, and I encourage you to take a break from school and stress and hop into one of these places. Keep these places in mind for the warmer weather and explore these stores for yourself and see what flavors and combinations you like best!

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