There’s no better way to beat the summertime heat than by grabbing a scoop (or two) of your favorite ice cream. If you’re craving something sweet, these Chicago area shots serve up some of the most interesting flavor combos in the area. Make sure to put these spots on your summer bucket list.
The idea of liquid nitrogen ice cream may sound a little bit strange, but it turns out that the method actually produces a creamier and smoother treat. Snow Factory has a variety of nitro flavors, like Strawberry Cheesecake, Butter Pecan and Matcha. If you’re a fan of the rolled ice cream trend, you’ll find combos like Peanut Butter and Pretzel and Nutella and Oreo or you can DIY your own concoction from Snow Factory’s massive toppings list. Kids will dig the “Dragon’s Breath” desserts, which fill your mouth with nitrogen “smoke” after you eat them.
751 E. Boughton Rd., Bolingbrook
So many of us have memories of summers spent begging our parents for money so we could grab a treat from the neighborhood ice cream truck. Consider Pretty Cool to be the open-year-round ice cream truck of Logan Square (only with much tastier options). From Peanut Butter Potato Chip ice cream custard bars to the Banana Cream Pie “Piecicle,” there’s a nostalgia-inducing pop for everyone in the family. And dairy-free folks don’t have to sit the trip out, either! The shop’s coconut-cream “plant bars” are vegan and delicious. Flavors include Dark Chocolate and Blue Moon.
2353 N. California Ave., Chicago
BomboBar started as a walk-up window at Bar Siena where you could find tasty gelato treats and sandwiches. While the walk-up is still open, you can now enjoy the decadent creations in Old Town, too. Try some homemade gelato, Italian ice or an over-the-top chocolate shake or if you’re really feeling adventurous, treat yourself to a gelato sandwich on a bombo (hole-less Italian donut). Varieties include Caramel Apple, Banana Split and Fruity Pebbles. Make sure to bring your pup along for free dairy-free gelato and “woof cream.”
Various Chicago locations
If Capannari’s boatloads of awards don’t impress you, the Mount Prospect ice cream parlor’s diverse menu certainly will. Their rotation of specialty flavors runs the gamut from Matcha Green Tea Mocha to Brownie Batter and Coconut Chip. Their vegan Cookies and Cream is also a big hit with dairy-free customers. Can’t make up your mind on which scoop to try? Capannari’s ice cream flight lets you taste four flavors at once. This homemade ice cream haven is totally worth the drive out to the suburbs.
10 S. Pine St., Mount Prospect
What’s better than devouring an ice cream bar? Picking exactly what blend of ingredients you want to build the perfect treat. At Gordo’s, you choose from several ice cream or paleta bases, then customize with dips and sprinkles (Avocado Banana with dark chocolate and toasted almonds, anyone?). If you’re indecisive about what to pick, they have a few classic bars, like The Birthday Cake and The Grasshopper. If you’re craving other sweet treats, grab a churro or vegan Oreo cupcake and wash it all down with an iced coffee.
Various Chicago locations
This Argentinian gelato shop started in Evanston and became so popular that they opened three Chicago locations. While you can find standard faves like strawberry and chocolate here, Frio also offers mouthwatering flavors like White Chocolate, Mascarpone Cheese with Raspberry Swirl and Malbec Wine with berries. Sorbet fans can enjoy selections like lemon and basil, passionfruit and pineapple.
Various locations around Chicagoland
Italian ice is the most underrated of summer desserts, in my humble opinion. Annette’s does the treat right, with a long list of flavors including peach, cappuccino, coconut and watermelon. If you’re in the mood for something creamier, the ice cream list here is long; with creative flavors like Jacked Up Tennessee Toffee (featuring whiskey sweet sauce and Heath Bars) and the hilariously-named Chicago Pothole (complete with chunks of chocolate “asphalt). For the ice cream purists, the shop sells favorites like sundaes, smoothies and ice cream sandwiches too.
2009 N. Bissell St., Chicago
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