Celebrate Local With the Best Homegrown Ice Cream and Gelato Brands
Dreams of savoring food cravings were crushed momentarily when news of the COVID-19 pandemic broke in March. This meant having little access to treats such as ice cream and gelato, which one can easily enjoy in a normal circumstance.
But with the power of technology and the eventual easing of quarantine measures, we’re glad to know that our favorite ice cream and gelato stops are making their brands more accessible to the sweets-loving public so they can enjoy generous bites at the comfort of their own homes. Or, if comfortable enough, dessert fans can troop to select branches that have started to reopen this June.
In this unranked list, we put the spotlight on cool stops that are not only known for their creamy, lip-smacking delights, but also for flavors that satiate the tastes of Filipinos time and again. We love that these brands pay homage to locally sourced ingredients—a move that we know is welcome now more than ever.
1| Sebastian’s Ice Cream
One of our perennial favorites for native-flavored chilled treats is ice cream connoisseur Ian Carandang’s Sebastian’s Ice Cream, a brand known for its inventiveness and willingness to take risks. Carandang has taken these key factors to heart by translating them into an array of flavors that one can enjoy in different formats, whether as a scoop, a pint, a banana split, a sandwich, a milkshake, or a fruitsicle. It’s no surprise then that there really is something for everyone at Sebastian’s, but what we like most are its nods to nostalgic Filipino snacks such as Sapin-Sapin, Mangga’t Suman, Green Mango and Bagoong, and Champorado & Dilis.
Sebastian’s Ice Cream Facebook Page; 5/F The Podium, 12 ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong
2| Merry Moo Ice Cream
Another artisanal award-winning ice cream brand that delivers ice cream straight to patrons’ homes is Merry Moo, which uses locally sourced fresh ingredients. Its premium ice cream uses fresh non-ultra heat-treated dairy, so each scoop is sure to be packed with the unaltered profiles of milk and cream. At Merry Moo, one can have his fix of the bestselling Sea Salt Caramel, as well as mouthwatering flavors such as Ube, Cheesy Mamon, and Polvoron. Flavors offered per day may vary, so it’s best to reach out before placing orders.
Merry Moo Ice Cream Facebook Page; 0917-528-9590
3| Papa Diddi’s Handcrafted Ice Cream
Perhaps one of Quezon City’s best-kept food secrets is Papa Diddi’s Handcrafted Ice Cream, best known for products that are handcrafted, homemade, and heartfelt. At the core of its products are fresh produce and local ingredients, including carabao’s milk that makes for creamy, rich bites. At Papa Diddi’s, one can sample both sweet and savory flavors, but our favorites are the Dulce Mani, Batangas Tablea, Fruity Toasted Strawberry, and Avocado Loco.
Papa Diddi’s Handcrafted Ice Cream Facebook Page;168 Maginhawa Street, Quezon City; Level 4, Citywalk 2, Eastwood City, Quezon City; Level 3, The Block, SM North Edsa, Quezon City
4| Ambassador’s Ice Cream
Fans of Go! Salads and Shoobie Sorbet would be happy to know that the folks behind these outfits have ventured into ice cream products, and all-vegan ones at that. The newbie player is home to flavors such as Pili Coffee, Pili Whisky, Tsokolate Tablea, and Malagos Dark Chocolate, all of which play on delicacies that are truly Pinoy. Some of their unique flavors are also offered in pie form for those who enjoy taking their ice cream with cake bits and even more toppings.
Ambassador’s Ice Cream Facebook Page; Mega Fashion Hall, Megamall, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong
5| Fruits in Ice Cream
This ice cream brand has been around since 1997, and rightfully so: Through the years, it has brought together Filipinos through quality ice cream offered in both classic and unique flavors. And, it has constantly reinvented itself to keep with the times. Dessert lovers come here for classic flavors such as French Vanilla, Cookies ‘n Cream, and Chocolate, but what we like best is the sorbetes line comprised of Halo-Halo, Durian, Munggo, Tskokonut, Macapuno, Nangkasuy, and Ube. FIC is available nationwide at select supermarkets and online at Karton.ph.
6| Arce Dairy
Another ice cream brand that has been with Filipinos for generations is Arce Dairy, which known as well for using carabao’s milk to boost its ice creams’ flavors. Its Quezon City ice cream parlor is open on select days of the week, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and here one can find a range of Filipino flavors including Chocolate Cashew, Sweet Corn, Macapuno, Durian, Buko Lechias, and Calamansi. They also carry the nostalgic pinipig crunch and an ingenious team up with soft-serve mavens The Lost Bread for ice cream flavors inspired by childhood candies, Chocnut and Haw Haw.
Arce Dairy Facebook Page; 0949-911-5875/ 8-366-1883; 100 Selecta Drive, A. Bonifacio Avenue, Balintawak, Quezon City; also available in select supermarkets nationwide
7| Farmacy Ice Cream & Soda Fountain
Wildflour’s entry to Manila’s best dessert stops has definitely been a go-to of those with a sweet tooth. At Farmacy, guests can gawk at abundant offerings of homemade ice cream, sorbets, sundaes, and pastries that are taken with a choice of drink, from sodas to milkshakes to cups of coffee. Its ice cream selection, however, is what drives the crowds. Flavors offered at Farmacy include classics, new spins such as Banana Salted Caramel and Chocolate Orange, and native-inspired treats including Ube and Jackfruit Cashew. For lighter, healthier sweet endings, the sorbet collection is worth a look, too, specifically the Guava and Guyabano.
8| Carmen’s Best Ice Cream
One of the homegrown ice cream brands we’ve loved over the years is Carmen’s Best Ice Cream, businessman Paco Magsaysay’s claim to fame. As the brand was named after Magsaysay’s own daughter, he ensures its tubs showcase top-notch quality. Each bite of Carmen’s Best is proof that the brand doesn’t scrimp on ingredients and use only the freshest ones, including another favorite dairy brand, Holly’s Milk. Find at Carmen’s a range of bestsellers, including salted caramel, coffee almond fudge, and the latest addition inspired by a locally abundant fruit, coconut!
Carmen’s Best Facebook Page; Level R2, Powerplant Mall, Rockwell, Makati City, and Upper Ground Level, Alabang Town Center, Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa; also available in select supermarkets nationwide
9| Karabella Dairy
Karabella Dairy takes its name from the caraballa or female carabao, which represents the brand’s chosen source for ingredients. Karabella is local through and through, as it doubles as a social enterprise with the GK Enchanted Farm, which offers homemade dairy products and supports the livelihood of local farmers and social entrepreneurs in the process. Its suite of ice creams boasts Pinoy pride: Turon with Langka, Leche Flan with Calamansi, Ube Halaya, Tablea Chocolate, and Roasted White Chocolate Cashew.
10| Carousel Creamery
Widely popular for its over 100 ice cream flavors is Carousel Creamery, which covers the classics, reinvented favorites, international delights, and bizarre-but-would-try selections. For those in the mood for Filipino-inspired flavors, there are many to choose from, but it’s the Beer & Chicharon, Ube Pastillas, Pinipig Crunch, and Game of Turons that have piqued our interest the most.
Carousel Creamery Facebook Page; 8 Missouri Street, Greenhills, San Juan City
1| Manila Creamery
If the brand name itself isn’t any indication, Manila Creamery has become synonymous with ice cream done in locally inspired flavors. Fans of this favorite gelato stop will be happy to know that given the current circumstance, its products may now be ordered online. Enter flavors distinctly their own such as Mangga’t Suman, Davao Dark Chocolate, and Tinutong na Kanin. Do expect to receive orders a week from payment though as the team is operating with a skeleton force, but know that when they come, they’ll definitely be worth the wait.
2| Auro Chocolate
Auro made a name for itself as one of the country’s premier bean-to-bar chocolate brands, but recently, it has expanded its reach to include both dairy and non-dairy (read: vegan) gelato. The brand carries three flavors for now: Vegan Chocolate, made with Auro's 77% dark chocolate; Vegan Strawberry, made from Baguio City-sourced strawberries; and Salted Caramel with Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs, a caramel-based gelato with dark chocolate-covered cacao nibs.
3| Gelato Manila
Pioneering gelato swiper Zarah Manikan has launched her own brand of remarkable gelato. She's currently accepting made-to-order projects, but some of her most unforgettable flavors come from her collaboration with Risa Chocolates. Their partnership produced three showstoppers: a luscious chocolate gelato using Cotabato chocolate; a white-chocolate strawberry; and, finally, salted butter chocolate. Each delicious dessert is topped with an edible medallion in the flavor of your choice.
Available at The Grid, Power Plant Mall, Makati