Nothing quenches your thirst on a sweltering Chicago day quite like a scoop of Italian ice, and nobody does it better than these Chicagoland institutions. While lemon is the staple creation everyone knows and loves, these Italian ice shops are chock-full of flavor and texture variations of this refreshing dessert.
A Lincoln Park neighborhood gem tucked in the corner of Bissell Street, right off the Armitage Brown Line, locals know that not just anyone takes your order. The outspoken woman who will remember your order every time you come back is none other than the founder, Annette. Made in house daily, we have yet to try a flavor that didn’t satisfy a craving. Our favorite? The Italian Fro-Yo, the perfect combination of Italian ice and frozen yogurt, where creamy and fruity unite.
2009 N. Bissell St., Chicago
Home of the four-scoop Italian Ice flight, Ava’s is perfect for the indecisive Italian ice lover. Located in Bucktown near the 606, Ava’s offers a rotating variety of 12 fresh fruit based ices that change weekly. Customer favorites that can be rarely found elsewhere are plum and apricot. Insider tip: All of the cups at Ava’s are made with recyclable materials. And for $6, you can purchase a “Neighborhood Cup” which provides a $1 discount each time you return.
1814 N. Western Ave., Chicago
Located a block from Mario’s Italian Lemonade, many customers who don’t want to wait in line opt for Carm’s. But don’t get us wrong, Carm’s isn’t second fiddle to Mario’s. The University Village hot spot is literally one of the coolest Italian ice spots around with the freshest tasting product. In business for more than 80 years, regulars and newbies alike come back for the “Cheers-esque” vibe that Owner Steve maintains.
1057 W. Polk St., Chicago
A fixture in Berwyn for more than 40 years, Gina’s Tremonte and her son make their famous Italian ice on-site daily, a recipe Gina learned to make in Italy. While Gina’s offers about a dozen flavors, simplicity shines in her basic lemon ice, which is often described as fresh and zingy, complete with lemon pulp and rind.
6737 Roosevelt Rd., Berywn
It isn’t abnormal to wait for more than an hour to enjoy Marios’s Italian Lemonade. Open for 65 years, this University Village Italian ice stand is synonymous with Chicago summer. No matter how you eat it — whether slurping it with a straw or savoring it with a spoon — you don’t be disappointed. Customer favorites — like cantaloupe, watermelon and pomegranate — can be enjoyed separately or eaten together for the ultimate punch in flavor. Insider tip: Mario’s is cash only.
1068 W Taylor St, Chicago
With locations in Logan Square and Irving Park, Miko’s is known for its banana chip Italian ice (banana flavor with chocolate chips). Regulars swear by a combo, mixing it with coconut for more of a beach vibe on a warm summer day. Check Miko’s Twitter for a list of rotating specials, including a new flavor that people are going crazy for – blood orange. Insider tip: Skip the line, and order online for fast pick up.
2236 N. Sacramento Ave., Chicago and 4125 N. Kimball Ave., Chicago
While this quick bite eatery in Downers Grove draws crowds for its Italian beef, regulars always know to save plenty of room for dessert. With generous portions of fresh Italian ice, summer flavors typically include strawberry peach, black cherry and lemon. By popular request, Teddy’s also sells their Italian ice by the half gallon.
6310 Main Street, Downers Grove
Autumn Bastyr’s homemade Italian ice was always a hit at family and friend’s gathering. Last year, the busy mom turned her passion into a Portage Park business, where she develops and makes all of the recipes in the back of the store herself. Passionate about providing Chicagoans with an all-natural dessert option made with simply water, fruit and sugar, flavors include grape, raspberry, kiwi, watermelon, and everything in between.
5035 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago
This longtime window-serve spot in the South Suburbs specializes in shakes, gelato and ice cream, but Italian ice is the unsung hero on its menu. With an extensive menu of 50-original recipes, second generation owners Tommy and Todd Zarlengo love to explore new flavor possibilities each season, such as apple cinnamon, cream soda and oranges-and-cream. For the ultimate combination of flavor and texture, pair any of the Italian ices with homemade ice cream.
257 W. Joe Orr Road, Chicago Heights
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