NYC Ice Cream Sandwich Tour 2015

Following in the tradition of our matzoh ball and gelato tours, and many other insufficiently documented food free-for-alls, Lisa and I set out to find the best ice cream sandwich in Manhattan.

Unlike the matzoh ball and gelato tours, there was one single winner.

No caveats; Melt won.

Luca & Bosco

Essex Market, 120 Essex St b/t Rivington St & Delancey St

Luca & Bosco Ice Cream Sandwich

Nestled in a corner of the delightfully diverse Essex Market, Luca & Bosco’s makes an ice cream sandwich between a pair of thin chocolate brownies. Their sandwich was great, but has two significant weaknesses:

  1. They pre-make their sandwiches; if you’re not crazy about the flavor of the day, then you’re out of luck.
  2. They are less than a five minute walk from Melt.

They do good work, but if I’m ever near them and looking for an ice cream sandwich, then Melt will always get our money. It’s no contest.

Melt Bakery

132 Orchard St, b/t Rivington St & Delancey St


If you need to know what direction to face when praying to the ice cream sandwich god, it’s in the direction of Orchard Street, just north of Delancy Street. This tiny refrigerated nook of a storefront has by far the best ice cream sandwich we have ever tasted, or really expected to taste.

The staff exhibited a level of care and passion that eclipsed all of the other places we visited. Their enthusiasm also translated into results. Their variety of cookies and ice creams are artfully paired, and given cute names like the Morticia (Crackly Chocolate Cookie + Malted Chocolate Rum Ice Cream) and the Sweetpea (Vanilla Cakey Cookie + Strawberry Ice Cream), both of which were incredible. They even told us to wait to eat the Sweetpea because it was better after a slight thaw.


I’m sure there are ice cream sandwich joints out there that have a product on-par with Melt, but I would be truly stunned to find one that is measurably superior.

M’o Gelato

178 Mulberry St, b/t Kenmare St & Broome St

M'o Gelato Ice Cream Sandwich

M’o Gelato makes an ice cream sandwich panini. It’s not kind of a panini; it’s a full-on, cooked in a panini press panini, with bread that tastes more like donut (which is a good thing).

It wasn’t bad. It had that fried ice cream vibe without the crunch. I think the trouble with it stems from gelato having a higher melting point than ice cream. It didn’t hold up well, and the breading overpowered the gelato.

At their recommendation we had ours filled with Nutella gelato. It was the right choice for the sandwich, but we’re not going to rush back for another helping.

Francois Payard

116 W Houston St, b/t Thompson St & Sullivan St

Francois Payard Ice Cream Sandwich

Payard’s sandwiches are made with macaron cookies. I’m a macaron fan, so I was excited. Lisa is lukewarm on the recently trendy fancy oreo. Both of us left disappointed.

The pre-selected flavor combinations weren’t singing to us, and the ones we had didn’t wow us. The macaron cookie didn’t do anything special when teamed with ice cream. Meh.

All of that being said, Payard’s macaron ice cream sandwiches came in heavily branded, strange to open, custom designed packaging… So if that sort of thing floats your boat, then by all means pay Payard a visit.

Milk & Cookies

19 Commerce St, b/t S 7th Ave & Bedford St

Milk & Cookies Ice Cream Sandwich

Milk & Cookies was the heartbreak of the day. It turns out that our former favorite ice cream sandwich joint has some ill-conceived flavor combinations… And both of the sandwiches we ordered were less-than-stellar.

They have some great flavors, and I wish we had ordered them.

Holey Cream

796 9th Ave, b/t 52nd St & 53rd St

Holey Cream Ice Cream Sandwich

Holey Cream’s deal is that they make your ice cream sandwich in a donut. You pick your donut, you pick your ice cream, you pick your glaze, and you pick your topping. It’s gluttonous, over-the-top, and so very unnecessary… and if ordering one of these things doesn’t fill you with an overwhelming feeling of patriotism, then nothing will ever make you feel like an American.

The kicker is that this is a damn good ice cream sandwich. It’s huge, bring a friend… or three.

Bareburger (honorable mention)

multiple locations

The night before our ice cream sandwich tour we had dinner at Bareburger. They have a great Chipwich-style ice cream sandwich. It’s surprisingly well-executed and yummy.

The big minus for Bareburger is that they insist on dosing their ice cream sandwich in mediocre chocolate sauce. Tell them to hold that shit.

Wrap Up

Unlike our previous tours, nearly all of the ice cream sandwiches we ate were made from noticeably different components. Cookies, brownies, macarons, donuts, and paninis… The variety of sugary, starchy goodness was a pleasant surprise.

If you’re looking to explore the wide world of ice cream sandwiches, there are a lot of interesting options, and none of them are bad. With the notable exception of Holy Cream, all of these places are in close proximity to one another.

That made for an easy tour, but it also means that as good as most of these places are, we’re going to Melt for our ice cream sandwich fix.

(Photos by Ken Liu)

Conversations with Architects & Alternative Uses for Drafting Pencils

I hate meeting architects. I have hated meeting architects for years. It’s a shame, because I used to love speaking to them.

As soon as an architect hears that I work in technology, I have to hear how much they hate that my industry has stolen their name: “Software Architect, Systems Architect, Information Architect… I can’t look for jobs anymore because they are all tech jobs. To be a *real* architect you need a license… you need this… you need that.”

As a user experience designer for web connected stuff, I find the scale and process that architects of physical buildings undergo incredibly interesting. If given the opportunity I could talk to them for hours about the similarities and differences of our work, because they really are interrelated. And in the not-so-distant future, they will overlap more.

Engineers & Designers Don’t Do This

I have never had this type of conversation with engineers or designers who operate in the physical world; those names have been just as coopted by the digital world, possibly to an even greater extent.

I’m not sure what the reason is, but I’m tired of it.

Architects: Next time you’re sitting next to a techie, how about swallowing your pride and having an actual conversation?

The Geek Whisperer’s 2015 Tech Predictions

I’ve been at this for a long time, this is the first time I’m taking a stab at industry predictions. Let’s see how I do in 12 months.

Security Breaches Everywhere

Information security is going to continue to grow as both a problem, and a political issue.

There will be more point-of-sale breaches at major retailers and large-scale corporate leaks like Sony (they will largely be inside jobs).

This will continue because companies won’t:

  • update their systems
  • implement proper password standards and management
  • hire and empower skilled information security specialists

Security Politicization

All of the breaches are going to grow into larger political issues as legislators try to regulate security.

The proposed laws will be terrible.

Most of our leaders will try their hardest to avoid discussing the fact that the Department of Justice has been actively working to hobble corporate and individual information security for years.

Apple Watch

At launch, there will be a mix of sneering and praise for the Apple Watch, but it will be a runaway success. Their stock price will drop initially.

Why will it be a success?

  • Because Apple
  • Minimally functional wrist-based wearables have already caught-on
  • We use our phones too much, and don’t want to take them out all of the time
  • It’s even more difficult to get your phone in and out of tight pants (watch people when you’re out; this is actually something people struggle with)

User Interfaces Go Vertical

The Apple Watch is going to bring new web and app design trends with it.

I’m in the middle of designing my first Apple Watch app, and I have discovered that because of the “crown,” everything shifts to a vertical interface. I suspect that many iPhone apps will shift to a more vertical experience to create similarities between their iPhone and Apple Watch apps. This will find its way into web design as well.

Apple Watch Theft

(This is the last Apple-related prediction)

Apple Watch theft is going to be a really big thing; especially in the warm months when crime rises and people aren’t covering their wrists with sleeves.

Even if Apple comes up with a very clever theft deterrence system, stolen Apple Watch bands will fetch good money.

"That Milanese Loop will look so great on me... Give it to me or I'll cut you!"
“That Milanese Loop will look so great on me… Give it to me or I’ll cut you!”

Net Neutrality = Giant Mess

The FCC will try to split the proverbial baby on net neutrality, and it’s going to be a mess.

I predict lawsuits from both sides of the issue. No one will be happy, and the ISPs will continue to suck… But lawyers and lobbyists will make money, and that’s all that really matters isn’t it?

Innovations Mobile Gaming

Mobile video games are going to get better, and more interesting.

The comparatively low cost of iOS and Android development vs console gaming, as well as the ubiquity of iOS and Android devices will spur a renascence in mobile video games. We’re going to see more of the quirky, interesting, and unusual indie games that have been priced out of the console market, or lost in the ether.

HTTPS Everywhere(ish)

2015 will be year that one of the browsers will label unencrypted websites as insecure. Many website owners will finally make the leap to HTTPS for everything.

It won’t be perfect, but it will be far better than the current situation.

Backend / Frontend Decoupling

There aren’t many content management systems that are great on both the back and front end.

While not a new concept, more websites will be built with a decoupled front and backend. Look for lots of Drupal backend, and AngularJS frontend sites. The web will be better for it.

API All the Things!

APIs are going to continue to become a necessary business tool for both internal and external purposes.

The non-profit and government worlds will need them to open up and share data.

Companies will want them to power their growing array of external websites and applications.

Really smart organizations will find that internal APIs for cross-department data sharing are more important than an intranet.

[Image via Apple]