Beating the heat: Trying ice cream in DC

Margot Durfee

After school has winded down, what’s better than sweating under the beating sun and suffocating in DC’s swampy humidity? A lot of things, but ice cream sure makes the situation better. DC boasts a rapidly expanding selection of ice cream shops, three of which I visited to find a new favorite ice cream store.

Kung Fu Tea

1529 Wisconsin Ave NW FL 2nd

Although specializing in Taiwanese bubble-tea, Kung Fu Tea also offers a small variety of East Asian street snacks such as the Hong Kong egg-waffle or the “bubble” waffle. Made similar to a waffle but in a specialized waffle iron, it substitutes a typical waffle cone when served with options of matcha (green tea), strawberry, or vanilla ice cream. You can choose between an original bubble waffle ($3.99) or chocolate bubble waffle ($4.99), and with ice cream it’s an additional $2. I got the original bubble waffle with matcha ice cream. The waffle was served hot off the iron and dusted with powdered sugar. Each “bubble” had a tasty soft inside and crispy outside, though I personally think it would’ve tasted better without the powdered sugar. The ice cream was a relatively small scoop, and tasted average. If you are looking to try their tea, go ahead! Their classic bubble milk tea is delicious. In terms of the ice cream, I don’t think it is anything special, but the bubble waffle is a very delightful dessert that isn’t easily found in DC. Based on my experience, I give the ice cream with bubble waffles a 2/5 stars.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

1925 14th St NW Suite B

Jeni’s is an Ohio-based chain that recently opened a location in Columbia Heights, a few blocks away from Cardozo High School. It is easy to find, as it has a big, neon sign that says, “Jeni’s Ice Creams” on the storefront. The inside has a very cheerful atmosphere – Upbeat music plays in the background, surrounded by a bustling crowd of people eagerly standing in line to order under strands of string lights that hang from the ceiling. The delicious smell of freshly made waffle cones even reaches up to the spacious second floor, which is full of comfortable seating. Jeni’s doesn’t sell ordinary ice cream, as its flavors range from the spicy-sweet Bangkok Peanut to the tart fruity Goat Cheese-Red Cherries. I ordered a scoop of Strawberry Buttermilk in a sugar cone. The freshness added by the small pieces of strawberries and creamy buttermilk added a unique twist to the classic ice cream flavor. Like many ice cream places, it’s a little pricey. One regular sized scoop (with an option to have a half scoop of two flavors) is $5.50, with an added $1 for a waffle cone. Another option is the Flights of Minis, which is basically three half-sized scoops in a bowl with a freshly made waffle-wedge for $6.50. I recommend dropping by and picking from their constantly-changing list of flavors. I give it a 3/5 stars because of its unique flavors and welcoming atmosphere.

Ice Cream Jubilee

1407 T St NW or 301 Water St SE #105

With locations in both Columbia Heights and Navy Yard, Ice Cream Jubilee is sure to spread joy to those who visit. Out of the three places I tried, this is my favorite. Although there are slightly fewer flavor options compared to Jeni’s – which is only a few blocks away – I think their flavors are tastier and more worth your money. I went to the Columbia Heights location and ordered a kiddie-size MarionBerry (blackberry and graham crackers mixed into vanilla ice cream) on a sugar cone for $3.50. I was expecting the scoop to be quite small, but it was actually larger than the regular-sized scoop I got at Jeni’s and $2 cheaper! There is also a free help-yourself toppings stations where you can choose from sprinkles and waffle-cone chunks to add to your ice cream. Although the store itself is much smaller than both Kung Fu Tea and Jeni’s, there is outdoor seating, making it perfect to enjoy your ice cream on warm summer days. I will definitely come back another time (probably within a week or two if I can resist the urge), and give it a 4/5 stars.