I took on the sugar coma-inducing, brain freeze-ridden, nutty, creamy, sweet, ooey, gooey task of finding the best frozen treats in the city of Chicago for you. It was cold, sometimes hard, and sometimes soft (serve), but it was all worth it because these ice creams, custards, gelatos and frozen yogurts will definitely revolutionize your summer.
You don’t even have to go into this local custard shop to feel the joy radiating from its doors. On any given day in summer, owner Mardi Moore says kids flock to Scooter’s for decadent custardy cones, concretes and sundaes.
Kids will be kids, and that means that when they see the Worms ‘n Dirt sundae—with Oreos, gummy worms, whipped cream and sprinkles—on the menu, they have a hard time looking at anything else.
But the real hit with the little ones is the famous Toddler Cone. This bite-sized cone is the perfect treat for the child who never can finish a full ice cream cone. With just a dollop of the flavor of their choice, it’s the perfect way to satisfy a craving. The Toddler Cone is just $1 or free with any adult purchase.
But the rich, creamy custard isn’t the only reason kids love this 13-year-old Chicago institution. Moore’s employees are trained specifically to cater to kids’ wishes.
Moore has watched many of the neighborhood kids grow up in her shop, and she says her husband, Denny, has been nicknamed by many as the “Flavor Mister.”
Price range: $1-$6.99
For kids with allergies: Moore says Scooter’s is known for accommodating food allergies. Just alert employees when ordering.
Chicago is crazy about its gelato, and rightly so, because the city has so many great options. Black Dog Gelato has been rising on the trendy ladder for a while now and after four years in business, their inspired and seasonally refreshing favorites never cease to amaze.
Grownup favorites include the goat cheese and cashew caramel varieties, but what about pickier eaters?
Manager of the Ukrainian Village location, Adam Haap, says you’d be shocked how many weird and wacky flavors kids are dying to try. Currently, they’re really into flavors like cinnamon and brown sugar, raspberry apple cider sorbet, Nutella with pretzel and Oreo mint.
Black Dog offers kid-sized scoops, and a delicious, tangy assortment of sorbets for the lactose intolerant crowd.
Price range: $2.50-$5.25
For kids with allergies: Because of the ever-changing, unique flavors, make sure to ask if a product is made with peanuts. If kids have lots of food allergies, Haap suggests selecting a sorbet.
Yummy ice creamy heaven is a given here. The original location in Bucktown has been around since 1921, and its fans have included the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. And although the space is too tight for strollers, kids are more than welcome at this step back into the ‘60s ice cream parlor scene.
Waitress Yahaira Rodriguez says the turtle sundae is the perfect Margie’s choice, but the marshmallow sundae is usually the top pick for the kids.
Even if you’re not in it for the handmade, crafted-daily, milky ice cream, a visit for the atmosphere and the history alone is worth the trip.
Price range: $2.75-$6.95
For kids with allergies: Be cautious here, with peanut allergies in particular. Make sure to notify any staff of any allergies.
Forever Yogurt will always call Chicago home, says Less Ross, partner of Forever Yogurt. And Chicago has a lot to owe Forever Yogurt, too, because Ross says it was really the first company to introduce the froyo phenomenon to the Midwest.
Froyo is made of all natural flavoring and local and artisan dairy products. Flavors span every palate, from honey green tea to Dutch chocolate to pomegranate raspberry. Kids love the swirl spouts, where their favorite flavors are combined for taste bud nirvana. Kids will also enjoy the toppings bar, which includes more toppings than anyone would ever need.
The shops switch out their flavors so there’s always something new, but staples such as chocolate, vanilla, Euro tart and some type of Italian ice sorbet always remain.
Price range: Prices depend on the weight of your cup.
For kids with allergies: Every flavor of Forever Yogurt is clearly labeled for food allergy and lactose intolerant warnings.
Special this summer: Forever Yogurt will introduce the Fronado, which will resemble a Dairy Queen blizzard.
The first thing you’ll notice is the heavenly scent of freshly baked waffle cones.
Although Jeni’s is known for its artisan-style, forever-changing flavors inspired by anything from the season to classic paintings, the shop does a great job of also hitting those flavors closer to home.
Kids will swoon over flavors such as the Ndali Estate vanilla bean, the milkiest chocolate in the world and the wildberry lavender, while parents will jump between flavors like whiskey and pecans and the buckeye state.
One of the best things about Jeni’s, according to brand ambassador Madison Palmer, is the way the ingredients are so carefully handpicked by Jeni and her team.
Jeni’s ice cream uses grass-grazed Midwestern milk, local produce and fair-trade certified Ugandan vanilla bean and Dutch cocoa.
Price range: $4-$8
For kids with allergies: Upon request, staff will use a new bucket and scoop. For the lactose intolerant crowd, try the sorbet.