I have never seen a city that loves ice cream as much as La Coruña, the second-largest city in the northwestern Spanish province of Galicia.
Every street I strolled was peppered with people devouring a cone or cup of the stuff. In the square mile that is La Coruña’s city center there were more than a dozen different ice cream parlors, the majority of which were mom and pop shops with lines stretching out their doors.
It was my perfect storm of ice cream excellence: delightfully warm weather, beautiful city beaches and a plethora of locally-sourced, locally-made, often-organic ice cream. I don’t think I’d want to know the number of times I ducked in for an ice cream in La Coruña.
Of the many (8? 10? 20? Better not to count…) ice cream shops and untold number of flavors I tasted during my month-long stay in the city, these were the three top spots that I am silently begging to relocate to Madrid.
A space like Heladería Italiana is the image my mind conjures when I think back to the nostalgic heyday of ice cream parlors in 1940s America.
Old-fashioned yellow and out-of-date brown are the only colors except for the rainbow of ice cream flavors. A giant metal display counter weaves across one side of the room showcasing the many tempting options with backlit name cards, half of which stopped illuminating decades ago.
Treading through the nostalgia, I discovered a collection of ice creams that were anything but antiquated. They are made with the freshest of milk from local Galician farms and come in a shocking variety of inventive flavors, such as Queixo do Cebreiro con Membrillo (fresh cheese from the nearby town of Cebreiro with quince paste).
But here’s what really mattered: Heladería Italiana makes the best coffee ice cream (my all-time favorite flavor) I’ve ever tasted. That’s right. The best.
Where to find it: Avenida de Montoto, 9
The Bio Factory
Spectacular, organic, vegan ice cream. That is a sentence I never thought possible. The Bio Factory proved me wrong.
Sixteen vegan flavors (think mojito, 70 percent dark chocolate and açai berry) tempted me from the left while just as many local, organic milk- based flavors beckoned to me from the right.
Needless to say, this was a near-daily stop. And with a two-flavor cup for only €1.70, my wallet, my conscious and my tastebuds were all okay with that.
Where to find it: Calle Santa Catalina, 8
Rumor had it that Puerta Real served the best ice cream in La Coruña. I can’t agree that it is the best (although it’s darn good), but it definitely has some of the best flavors options in the city.
Puerta Real takes full advantage of the fact that it is located in one of the most culinary rich areas of the country, infusing its ice creams with 100 percent Galician flavors.
My personal favorite is their Crema de Orujo ice cream made from the classic Galician liqueur (similar to Bailey’s) although the Tarta de Santiago ice cream with chunks of the traditional almond cake was rather stellar as well.
Where to find it: Calle Santiago, 2
More about La Coruña:
What’s the best ice cream you’ve ever discovered while traveling?