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South Side Cheap Eats: "Ice Cream Man" Edition

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jul 12, 2006 3:30PM

2006_07_scoops.jpgAlthough the weather has not been particularly cooperative, 'tis the season for the Good Humor man, Mister Softee (celebrating his golden anniversary this year), root beer floats, waffle cones, frozen bananas, and sticky kids hopped up on sugar. Chicagoist is old, and we tire easily, so we leave chasing ice cream trucks to those who don't know any better. We head for the ice cream shop instead. In this installment of "South Side Cheap Eats", we've found four ice cream shops that are well worth the trip out south. If you come down by bike, all those calories won't go to your hips, either.

The Original Rainbow Cone (9233 S. Western; 773-238-7075) should be declared a city landmark. Since 1926, they've been making their own cones and filling them with one of their five signature flavors. The "rainbow cone" includes scoops of chocolate, pistachio, strawberry, orange sherbet, and a flavor they call "Palmer House" (cherry ice cream with chunks of cherry and walnuts), all fit into a wedge on top of the cone. During the summer months, the store's interior is sardine tight with kids watching the cones being made. There's some seating in the back, but you might be best served getting yourself a rainbow cone for immediate consumption and some ice cream to go.

Following in the footsteps of the new Bridgeport eatery Trattoria 31 is Scoops. Located across the street from Trattoria 31, Scoops (608 W. 31st Street; 312-842-3300) has only been open for a month, but it’s doing brisk business. They have a couple dozen hand-scooped flavors, and make a wide array of floats, sundaes, cakes, and malts. The orange creamsicle “scoopuccino” is a must-have. We had one last Saturday, savoring it in the outdoor seating area while pianists Alan Gresik and Chicago Rose engaged in a musical duel in the store.

A few blocks up the street from Scoops is the 26th Street Sugar Shack (630 W. 26th Street). For years, the Sugar Shack was strictly soft serve, frozen bananas, sundaes, funnel cakes, and deep-fried twinkies. A recent remodeling brightened the kitchen and added hand-scooped ice cream to the menu. Although they offer picnic table seating, it’s very limited, so order the best funnel cake in the near south side and walk on down the street.

Our final recommendation is Garfield Ridge-based Papa Smiles’ Ice Cream (6955 W. Archer; 773-788-0388). Papa Smile's is one of those inconspicuous places, where you’ll pass it up if you blink once. Although if you pass Papa Smile's, you’ll find out soon enough that Summit is indeed a real town. Papa Smile's is an old-fashioned ice cream parlor that worships at the altar of the hand scoop. The scoops here are generous, as is Papa Smile.