For fans of thick, viscous ice cream that sticks to the back of a spoon, Boston is a mecca—and Christina’s plays a starring role in the city’s sweet history. Originally opened as J.P. Licks’ second location in the early ‘80s, the Inman Square shop was purchased in 1984 by an employee who renamed it after his daughter, and a decade later resold to U.K. transplant Raymond Ford, a social theory professor with a serious penchant for spice. In this eclectic corner of Cambridge, Ford found a place to experiment.
Today, his no-frills shopfront offers a glimpse into Inman Square’s past; just far enough away from the Red Line to garner too much attention, the diverse neighborhood has long boasted an amalgamation of local institutions and creative concepts. In comparison to Cambridge’s newer whitewashed cafés, Christina’s, with its brightly painted walls, brick, and wood benches, appears well-worn and well-loved. What it lacks in sheen, it makes up for in flavor.
The staggering menu is proof positive of Ford’s passion. A couple dozen “always available” sorbet and ice cream varieties include Adzuki Bean, Khulfi, and Green Tea, while seasonal choices run the gamut from Lychee and Lemon Rose to Champagne and Eggnog. Even less exotic creations eschew the basic. Would you like your vanilla malted or French? Your banana spiked with chocolate or cinnamon? Your caramel of the salted variety or the burnt sugar persuasion? (Don’t miss the latter, a sticky blend reminiscent of the moment in cookie-making when you blend the butter with the brown sugar and start sneaking bites.) Whether your fix comes in the form of a frappe, sundae, ice cream cake, or two-and-a-half-gallon tub, the possibilities for experimentation are endless here. So get in line with the rest of the neighborhood, and dig in.
Ice cream parties should be more of a thing. Christina’s delivers the goods and all the fixins for a 20-person sundae party.
At $6.50, a hand-packed pint from Christina’s is a steal compared to other local ice cream shops. Counter workers are happy to pack it for you; choose up to two flavors in each.
Locals argue that the mix-in concept—later popularized by Cold Stone Creamery—was first invented in Cambridge. Sample it here, choosing any dry topping and watching it get hand-mixed into two scoops of ice cream.
For more evidence of owner Ray Ford’s passion for spice, look no further than Christina’s Spice & Specialty Foods, his mecca of exotic seasonings just a few doors down. The ice cream maker opened the shop—which supplies spices to some of the city’s best chefs—about a decade after acquiring Christina’s.