Beat the Heat With a Sweet Treat: Where to Find Frozen Desserts in the Baltimore Area

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The Charmery (Justin Tsucalas)

With summer here, people are searching for convenient ways to beat the heat. And one of the easiest is also one of the most delicious—ice cream!

But you might not want to wait for the telltale jingle of the ice cream truck, and you might want something more exciting than store-bought ice cream. Fortunately, Baltimore and its surrounding areas boast a plethora of ice cream shops to choose from. The average ice cream fan is spoiled for choice here with the amount of creameries offering unconventional flavors and other kinds of frozen treats.

This list is just a sampling of the many ice cream parlors in the Baltimore area, but it should be more than enough to satisfy any sweet tooth.

The Charmery
Multiple locations in Baltimore, Columbia and Chevy Chase
Across five locations and a sixth opening this summer, The Charmery offers unique and experimental ice cream with Baltimore-inspired flavors. One of its most popular ice creams is Old Bay Caramel—a combination that might come off as unconventional, but has remained a staple of the creamery’s menu for its 11 years of operation.

David Alima, The Charmery’s co-founder and self-described “Master Flavor Maker,” says that the vision behind the business was always “to do things with ice cream that had never been done before, and to make the most magnificent ice cream we could.”

Alima runs The Charmery with his wife, Laura Alima.

The flavors that The Charmery offers are different on each visit. The Charmery has seven staple flavors that might be expected for an ice cream parlor, such as chocolate and vanilla. Old Bay Caramel is also one of these due to its popularity. The remaining flavors are meant to be more unorthodox in nature, using unconventional ingredients and flavor combinations. One might not expect to find orange creamsicle-flavored ice cream with candied jalapeños at the average ice cream shop, but “Feel the BURNES” is only one of many unique flavors that The Creamery rotates through.

David Alima notes that The Charmery encourages customers to try samples of flavors in stock, with the hopes of getting people to taste the more unique offerings.

“I wish that you could go into a restaurant and be like ‘I want to try a mini slider version of your burger before I order it,’ so it’s a unique opportunity that we can let people try our ice cream before they buy,” he says. “We do this one flavor, Honey Cilantro, and I think that if people weren’t able to taste it, it wouldn’t have sold. But they were able to taste it and see how delicious it was, and that’s the advantage we have as a creamery.”

The Charmery also collaborates with local businesses, farms and artists, making flavors to represent them and donating part of the profits to the charity of the collaborators’ choice. Notably, The Charmery has worked with musicians Dan Deacon and Future Islands in the past.

Taharka Brothers
Multiple locations in Baltimore
Originally founded as the nonprofit Sylvan Beach Foundation, Taharka Brothers started off as a school employee training program that would teach students business skills. Now, it’s an employee-owned company with ice cream shops operating out of four locations in Baltimore.

The company was named for Taharka McCoy, a player on a basketball team coached by founder Sean Smeeton, and an early volunteer for the Sylvan Beach Foundation. McCoy was killed in 2002, and the nonprofit’s ice cream company was renamed in his honor. His son, Detric McCoy, is one of its six owners.

Taharka Brothers’ commitment to community outreach persists to this day, and it certainly helps that the ice cream is delicious.

“We try to bring people together,” Smeeton says. “Gathering people who might not necessarily hang out with each other, from different age groups or with different political views. … Our superfans love that we try to drive social change and make the world a better place.”

Taharka Brothers has locations in Lexington Market, Cross Street Market, R. House and Broadway Market, but the ice cream shop also caters events and has its own ice cream truck that they take to local festivals and schools.

Smeeton cites Honey Graham as being the most popular flavor. They also do collaborations with local businesses and make limited-time flavors in honor of famous figures, including Black boxing champion Joe Gans, historian and playwright Howard Zinn and rapper Tupac Shakur. The flavor inspired by Tupac, Keep Ya Head Up, is a blackberry crumble-flavored ice cream named after one of Tupac’s most iconic songs.

“We get a lot of emails and direct messages on Instagram, and we see how much the community loves us,” Smeeton adds. “Not sure exactly why, but the brand seems to resonate with a lot of people.”

Lucky Thompson (David Stuck)

Lucky’s
Baltimore
Lucky’s doesn’t make its own ice cream—the shop partners with Taharka Brothers and the Pennsylvania-based Jack & Jill Ice Cream Company to distribute their flavors—but the street corner parlor is busy throughout the year. This is due in part to its prime location, only a few hundred feet from the National Aquarium and next to popular tourist restaurants Phillips Seafood Restaurant and Hard Rock Cafe.

Lucky Thompson, owner of the eponymous ice cream parlor, opened Lucky’s as a pop-up business in 2011. Initially, the store did not sell ice cream at all, and actually operated under the name “The Best of Luck Candy and Gifts.”

“I have a real love of old-fashioned penny candy stores,” Thompson says. “I used to love them when I was a kid, and when I would travel with my parents, we would go to those kinds of stores wherever we were. At around the same time we opened, Dylan’s Candy Bar was becoming popular in New York. We didn’t have anything like that in Baltimore, so I opened Lucky’s on a whim.”

The shop moved to its current spot, the former home of an ESPN Zone location, from East Harbor after a year of operation, and started offering ice cream three years in. While Lucky’s still offers candy, ice cream has overtaken it as the most popular item.

While Lucky’s is open all year round and also serves Starbucks-brand coffee for when it’s too cold for ice cream, it gets a ton of foot traffic in the summer. It’s located in a real hub of activity in Baltimore.

(David Stuck)

“Opening a female-owned small business in Baltimore City is not easy,” Thompson adds. “The fact that we’ve managed to stay open through the Freddie Gray [protests] and COVID-19 and all these things we’ve dealt with … we’ve stayed the course and I’m proud of that, and I love being able to employ people.”

The biggest fans of Lucky’s, though, are Thompson’s three children.

“They like to tell everyone they know, ‘My mom has an ice cream store,’ and they love to pretend they work here. They’ll come in and scoop ice cream,” she says. “It’s pretty cute.”

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