Popular Ice Cream Chain That Created Ranch and Mac and Cheese Flavors Opens in DC

Van Leeuwen opens at Union Market with $1 scoops and fun (more normal) flavors.

Photo courtesy of Van Leeuwen.

Update: Van Leeuwen is opening another shop on Thursday, May 11, in Georgetown (3245 Prospect St., NW)—and just as it did with the opening of its first DC location near Union Market (see story below), it will have $1 scoops, between noon and 2 PM. The first 100 people will receive a tote bag. A delicious local twist: It has teamed up with Baked & Wired to offer the limited-edition flavor Dirty Chai Cupcake.

Van Leeuwen, the New York-based ice-cream maker known for its quality ingredients and unpredictable flavors, is opening its first DC location near Union Market on Thursday, March 23. To celebrate, they’re offering $1 scoops between noon and 4 PM. Additional shops in Georgetown and Adams Morgan are set to debut in the next month or so.  

The cheery yellow store is scooping 30 flavors such as honeycomb and dark chocolate fudge—plus customizable sundaes, ice cream sandwiches, root beer floats, milkshakes, and pints to-go. In addition to the rich, cream-filled treats, a number of vegan flavors are available including churros-and-fudge and peanut butter brownie. You’ll also find spring specials like a salty-sweet “Milkshake & Fries.” The unconventional flavors might sound gimmicky, but hey, the trick is working. Van Leeuwen’s limited-run Kraft mac and cheese flavor was a surprise success (possibly because of food publications writing about it endlessly).

“We love to delight people,” said Ben Van Leeuwen, who co-founded the business with brother Pete Van Leeuwen and friend Laura O’Neill in 2008. “Yumminess is the number one goal.”

The ice cream’s base is inspired by the French style of cream and egg yolks that gives the treat a thick, silky consistency. Ingredients, like strawberries from Oregon and Sicilian pistachios, are sourced for quality (Kraft aside).

The Union Market location debuts with a local specialty courtesy of Bar Spero chef/owner, Johnny Spero. His flavor, birch ice cream with raspberry jam, was previously sold at Spero’s Georgetown restaurant, Reverie (which is closed due to a fire). The birch bark is steeped in custard until its oils are released to create a syrup, giving the ice cream a refreshing flavor similar to root beer.

The other two locations will also feature local partnerships. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a Capital City Mambo Sauce collab. 

Van Leeuwen. 418 Morse St., NE

Julia Rosenberg
Editorial Fellow