Along Harlem’s bustling 125th Street corridor are fragments of bygone businesses etched in the community’s culinary history books. Among them is Thomforde’s Ice Cream Parlor. Founded in 1903 and nestled along the neighborhood’s central thoroughfare, the eatery—where patrons indulged in banana splits, homemade ice cream sodas, and chocolate frostees for less than 75 cents—evolved into a Harlem mainstay. Thomforde’s shuttered in 1983 after an 80-year run, however, there’s been a resurgence of entrepreneurs in Upper Manhattan who are putting their own unique twist on the centuries-old treat.
Whether it’s an homage to a storied family recipe that has traveled through generations, a sweet nod to local luminaries and cultural landmarks, or a nostalgic nosh inspired by 80s pop culture, innovation is swirled into every scoop. Ahead of National Ice Cream Day, on July 17, we’ve rounded up a short list of sweet escapes that are part of Harlem’s ice cream renaissance.