Raleigh, N.C.’s agricultural background and vibrant artistic culture are together helping local chefs create unique spins on everyone's favorite summertime treat. With fresh and local ingredients such as milk from Raleigh grass-fed cows to ripe peaches and strawberries from the local farmers, Raleigh's ice cream makers are creating desserts you can't miss on a trip here.
The brainchild of chef Buck Buchanan, Lumpy’s Ice Cream is based on a simple philosophy: keep it simple and keep it local. A chef by training and restaurateur by trade, Buck first made his ice cream as a treat for his kids. After seeing how much they loved it, he took a year off and studied the ins and outs of ice cream making. His first batches were only available via hand truck in downtown Raleigh but you can now find Lumpy's across the area, from Carolina RailHawks soccer games to the Raleigh Downtown Farmers Market and Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre. Try the Bacon & Bourbon flavor (Buck still makes the vanilla extract himself)!
North Carolina State University's (NCSU's) own Howling Cow ice cream is one of Raleigh’s hidden gems. NCSU business and marketing manager Carl Hollifield was instrumental in bringing the Howling Cow brand (and product) to life. He created the name, logo and emphasized their use of only fresh milk from NCSU-raised cows. This Raleigh-made treat can be found in multiple locations throughout the area, including on the NCSU Centennial Campus at The Creamery. If it's your first visit, try a cup of Wolf Tracks, featuring a fudge ripple and peanut butter cups–students swear by it!
Brett Hillman and his wife began their ice cream journey back in their hometown in N.Y. where they owned a Carvel franchise. A few decades later, the couple brought their love of the frozen treat to Raleigh where they knew they could find local organic farms and a strong community that would love their product as much as they did. They took over Fresh Local Ice Cream on Glenwood Ave. in 2011 and business boomed. Their ice cream base comes from a nearby farm, ensuring that their flavors are made fresh daily.
Not technically ice cream but a frozen treat staple in Raleigh! Opening its doors in 1988, Goodberry’s Frozen Custard focuses on pure, honest ingredients to make their frozen treats. In the beginning, not many Southerners knew what frozen custard was, but the concept of their "concrete" quickly caught on. The term “concrete” comes from the fact that their custard is whipped until there is little to no air left, resulting in a thick, creamy texture. So thick, in fact, that you can flip your cup upside down and the custard will not pour out (as pictured in the header photo up top). Made fresh hourly, locals know to check out the flavor of the day online and customize their concrete with a variety of toppings and sauces.
Header photo: Goodberry's Frozen Custard