Photo: Enjoying ice cream at Birchwood Dairy in Abbotsford. Source: Jada Chapleo via Flickr.
Hot summer days are here and the kids are out of school. It just made sense to feature 10 of the best places in the Vancouver, Coast & Mountains region for ice cream, gelato, and frozen yogurt. We’ve been brainstorming and researching over the past few days and thanks to your suggestions, we’ve found 10 destinations to try this summer:
1. Bella Gelateria – Vancouver:
There’s been tons o’ buzz about Bella Gelateria – and for good reason. They’re dedicated to preserving the true artisanship of old-world handcrafted gelato and are known amongst local foodies as the place for gelato in Vancouver. Each batch is made in full view (so you can watch the gelato chefs in action) and they use an old world artisan style process (as noted on their website here) to ensure the highest quality per batch. It has definitely paid off because as soon as we asked on Twitter for a gelato recommendation, about half a dozen people right off the bat recommended Bella. @Colene told us, “[it's] the only place I will go to for my gelato & sorbetto needs. James [the owner] is the best!”. It’s also a must for @trifunster who simple described Bella Gelateria as “AWESOMENESS”. And when we asked if any one flavour stands out, @Astra_PT told us, “Loads! He changes it with what ingredients he has – my faves are blood orange, pineapple, apple+caramel, oh and an ‘orchard’ one! I think James has coconut today!” Needless to say, the next time you find yourself at the northern foot of Burrard Street, you know where to venture.
2. Marina’s Gelato – Fort Langley & Maple Ridge:
A double endorsement for Marina’s Gelato by both Tourism Langley and Tourism Maple Ridge. The former wrote, “Marina’s Gelato in Fort Langley! Soooo many flavours! Sometimes they have a Speculaas flavoured gelato! (Speculaas are the most delicious dutch cookies, for those who don’t know.)” while the latter wrote, “Marina’s Gelato in Maple Ridge uses only top Italian ingredients and makes all of their ice cream fresh on the premises, Marina’s Gelato offers over 40 delicious flavours of gelato and sorbetto (some say it may be the best gelato in B.C!).” We learned on Marina’s Gelato’s website that they originally opened by Paul and Marina in Maple Ridge in June 2002, and then opened a secondary location in Fort Langley. The location in Fort Langley is no longer owned by Paul and Marina, but they still have the same wonderful tasting gelato. We also learned after publishing this blog post that that Marina’s in Fort Langley is now called Maria’s (although they don’t appear to have a website yet). In any case, because these are “sister” gelato shops to speak, we’re keeping them both at #2.
3. Birchwood Dairy – Abbotsford:
There’s something special about eating ice cream on a farm at the very dairy the cows were milked. Located on 210 acres of land, Abbotsford’s Birchwood Dairy milks approximately 180 happy cows. Why are they happy? Well, these cows are fed hay and silage that’s grown on the farm, but they’re also free to roam. And Birchwood Dairy is much more than just a dairy – they’re also home to a Country Store. It’s here where you can buy their fresh milk, cream, yogurt and cheeses or even have a light lunch, buy fresh baking, or treat yourself to local produce. But the reason we have Birchwood Dairy on the list is of course, their gourmet ice cream and frozen yogurt. To tempt yourself, just look at their full menu of over 50 flavours here. Flavours that piqued this blogger’s interest includes Chai Tea, S’mores, and Tin Roof Sundae.
4. Mike’s Gelato – Gibsons:
Sunshine Coast Tourism enthusiastically vouches for Mike’s Gelato. They told us, “Mike’s Gelato in Gibsons makes it fresh in-house and serves multiple outlets in Roberts Creek, Sechelt & Powell River. Can’t walk through Gibsons Landing without your Mike’s Gelato. So many flavours to choose from!” So we took a look at Mike’s Gelato Facebook Page and saw their fans endorsing flavours such as blood orange, Reeces pieces (a personal favourite of yours truly), and even pumpkin pie! We then discovered Gibsons blog, Cottager’s Wife who ranks Mike’s Gelato as one of The 10 Best Things About Gibsons. In her blog post she writes, “We consider ourselves gelato experts, having each eaten an average of two cones a day while travelling in Italy a few years back. Mike’s gelato definitely measures up.”
5. Matteo’s Gelato – Port Coquitlam:
Matteo’s is an Italian-style bistro where gelato’s the main course. Yelp reviewers consider Matteo’s “a definite gem in downtown Port Coquitlam”. Becca Stephen wrote to us on Facebook claiming, “Matteo’s has a great atmosphere, awesome staff, has the best gelato around and is totally community oriented. One year for May Day we brought Matt a case of girl guide cookies and he made girl guide cookie gelato!!!” Being devout Girl Guide Cookie eaters ourselves, we know this must be good stuff.
6. Timothy’s Frozen Yogurt – Steveston:
Timothy’s Frozen Yogurt is a Steveston institution. So says former Timothy’s employee @Erin_Hanson. She tweeted to us, “I may be biased, but it’s an institution. When I tell people I’m from Steveston, they say ‘Mmm, Timothy’s!’” When they first opened back in the late 80′s, the line-ups for Tim’s were legendary. They’d spill out the door and clog up Steveston Landing. While ice cream, Mario’s Gelato, and coffee are also on the menu, locals know that the frozen yogurt’s why you make the effort to visit. Choose from the fresh fruit available (strawberries, peaches, boysenberries, cranberries, cherries, bananas, etc.) and they’ll take a scoop of it, blend it into the frozen yogurt and serve it into a made to order still-warm-from-the-iron waffle cone. It’s simple yet divine. Next time you’re in Steveston, head up to Steveston Landing and follow that seductive vanilla smell of the waffle cones wafting through the air. Or just look for the line-ups.
7. Dolce Gelato – White Rock:
There’s something sublime about eating gelato along the seaside, so Dolce Gelato in White Rock makes perfect sense. Owned by an Italian couple, this gelato shop is considered one of the best in the Lower Mainland. With 8 5-star reviews on Yelp to date, you know they must be doing something right. They also captured the attention of foodies south of the border. Nicholas Feris – a Seattle-based rum afficionado who authors the blog, The Rum Collective made a special trip to White Rock just to taste Dolce Gelato’s luxurious Cassata gelato. “Finely chopped pistachio nuts, quick melting tiny chocolate pieces and chewy candied orange peel compliment a refreshingly cool, silky gelato with notes of Puerto Rican rum mixed throughout. Sensational! One more please!!” Read the rest of his experience at Dolce Gelato on his blog here.
8. Tamaringo’s Cafe – Abbotsford:
Located inside of Abbotsford’s Cannor Nursery is the Tamaringo Cafe. Fraser Valley Building Supplies told us on Twitter their gelato is “the absolute BEST and the best kept secret.” When we inquired further, they explained, “Every flavour I’ve tried is divine. Order a yummy snack, specialty coffee or tea then browse their beautiful plants!” Tourism Abbotsford also gave us the nod to this fine local’s secret, and it must truly be a secret because we couldn’t find a whole lot of info online. But the little that we did find, like this blog and this blog, suggest that it’s quality stuff. Go try their gelato and report back to us – we’re curious!
9. Krause Berry Farms – Langley
It was Tourism Langley who put Krause Berry Farms on our ice cream radar. “They have the BEST berry ice cream, ever!” So we investigated further and discovered this Langley berry farm not only grows an abundance of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and a variety of vegetables (all of which you can pick yourself), but they also run a Country Market. It’s there where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh-baked goods (from bread and pies to their famous corn pizza!), homemade fudge, milkshakes, smoothies, and of course… berry ice cream! Ice cream made from the very berries grown on the farm has to be tasty ice cream, indeed.
10. Qoola – Burnaby:
There are a few things I’ve learned about Qoola by reading reviews on Yelp. First, they’re the only California-style soft serve frozen yogurt bar in Metro Vancouver. Second, their Metrotown location is the only place where you serve it yourself. And it was Justin Garing who wrote on our Facebook Page to recommend Qoola’s Metrotown location. He writes, “[It] has a nice atmosphere, and stands apart from other frozen yogurt places. Qoola has very smooth frozen yogurt and a wide variety of toppings to put on from m&m’s to Captian Crunch to strawberries.” Vancouver girl Shirley Sii blogged about her experience at Qoola Metrotown when she visited last year. Check out her blog here to see the various frozen yogurt combinations she and her friends came up with.
We wanted to limit the list to only 10, but we felt every suggestion deserved to be recognized:
Mama’s Gelato – Sechelt – “it’s awesome!”
The Restaurant at Painted Boat – Madeira Park – try the rosewater gelato.
Milsean Shoppe – Aldergrove – try their ice cream made with their famous Demerara Butter Crunch.
Mario’s Gelato – Vancouver – try the white chocolate raspberry.
Cow’s Ice Cream – Whistler – old fashioned ice cream and cow motifs.
La Casa Gelato – Vancouver – famous for having 218 flavours at all times.
Adria Gelato – Burnaby – try the tiramisu & chocolate flavours.
Hell’s Gate Airtram – Boston Bar – try their fudge dipped waffle cone.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory – Harrison Hot Springs – try the Turkish Coffee flavour.
Did we miss your favourite gelato, ice cream, or frozen yogurt destination in the Vancouver, Coast & Mountains region? Let us know what’s missing off our list by leaving us a comment.