The tastes of summer are distinct and simple. The warm acid of the perfect late summer heirloom tomato. A chilled glass of sparkling wine during a DC-damp breeze. Iron-tinged water slurped from a garden hose. And, of course, that tongue-full of almost melted, saved from dripping off the cone, sweet ice cream in DC’s hot summer blast.
It is a fact that all ice cream tastes better when enjoyed during a stroll through a scenic neighborhood. This is 100% scientifically accurate; don’t bother looking it up. Why do you think the Italians are so big on their evening strolls (passeggiata) and gelato? For DC’s residents, there are few lovelier walks than Old Town, Alexandria. And if you’re really looking to up the charm, you’re best bet is to head straight for Pops Ice Cream on King Street. Located a block from the wharf and a stroll from shops and drool-worthy residential neighborhoods, Pop’s is a sweet launch pad for a summer evening of simple pleasures.
Photos and details after the jump!
Like a film set, the family-owned ice cream shop is designed to jump start your old timey engine with candy-striped walls and heart-backed wire chairs. The retro theme creeps into the menu as well with your grandparents’ favorite malt shoppe specials like egg cream and chocolate sodas. Modern tastes make an appearance too with protein shakes and non-fat yogurt living harmoniously alongside classic ice cream flavors and a few new arrivals (red velvet ice cream? oh my!). Mike and I joined the masses at Pop’s on a recent steamy Friday evening, waiting patiently in a line that snaked through the moderately sized parlor as residents and DC visitors alike tasted and selected their ideal flavors. Pop’s serves the full gamut – young families with children zipping in and out of line, couples on fidgety second dates, seniors out for an early dessert, even coltish high school students on hormone overdrive.
Mike’s chocolate and peanut butter ice cream delivered the desired richness with just the right amount of salty-sweet from the cold peanut butter. My mint chocolate chip featured actual pieces of rich chocolate alongside its buzzy mint host. Both flavors were just what we’d hope for – creamy, fresh, and sweet with no ice crystals (indicating ice cream has melted and been refrozen) or the telltale chalky after-texture so common in cheaply produced (read: chemically enhanced!) ice creams.
The Pop’s menu features over 20 ice cream flavors plus daily specials, made all the more impressive considering the ice cream is made in house. Patrons who time their visits right can press their noses against a large glass window as employees prepare the next day’s serving. Considering DC’s epic summers and the bright flavors of our desserts, I’m sure this is an endless job.