The 12 Best Ice Cream And Frozen Treats In Chicago
It is no secret we love a delicious frozen sweet treat here at Chicagoist. We've shared our favorites before and have spent a lot of time and words writing about various frozen delights, from ice cream to gelato, frozen yogurt to Italian ice. Give us a spoon and something cool and refreshing and we're set during the summer, yet still won't turn up our nose during the frosty winter months.
This year we share some more of our favorite spots around the city to visit when you want something sweet and cold to cool you down. We've got both old favorites and new finds and as always, share your favorite spots so we can scream for the ice cream you scream for as well.
The Original Rainbow Cone. Photo Credit: fotomattic
Original Rainbow Cone
No trip to Beverly is complete without a visit to this legendary ice cream shop and its iconic namesake cone. Expertly shaped scoops of orange sherbet, pistachio, strawberry and chocolate ice cream sandwich a flavor called Palmer House (New York Vanilla with cherries and walnuts) top your choice of a standard cake cone or a waffle cone. On a hot day it’s a race to see how fast you can eat a Rainbow Cone before it melts and runs down your arm and even if you lose the race it’s worth it. If you don’t want a Rainbow Cone you can also order from a host of other flavors including cookie dough, cookies and cream, black walnut and bubblegum. But going to Original Rainbow Cone and not ordering the item that made the place famous is like going to a steakhouse and asking about the vegan options. —Chuck Sudo
Original Rainbow Cone is located at 9233 S. Western Ave.
This little shop on the edge of Avondale and Logan Square is scooping up some of the most creative types of ice cream you’ll find in the city. Delicias Natural puts a lot of care and focus into all of their flavors, but the true standouts are the options that take their flavor from south of the border. The shop offers a variety of treats with Mexican ingredients, from a spiced mole ice cream to a floral rose petal to tequila and even a flavor stuffed with Gansito, the Mexican snack cake that is filled with cream, strawberry jelly and covered with chocolate. All of the offerings I’ve tried have been creamy and flavorful but not overly sweet, a perfect balance. They also have a large selection of icy delicious paletas with fruit and/or cream and other ingredients, hefty cups packed with yogurt and fresh fruit and sweet, spicy and tart mangonadas. The shop is small and simple but everyone who works there is super friendly, answering any questions about unfamiliar ingredients and offering up samples if you are intrigued to try something new. — Lisa White
Delicias Natural is located at 2867 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Few sweet treat shops in Chicago match the richness and flavor that Paciugo, a Texas-based chain now with three local locations, delivers with its gelato. Inventive flavors like Cantaloupe Pear, Wedding Cake and this writer’s current favorite Lavender Vanilla, draw fans in and the seasonal concoctions keep them coming back for more. Paciguo’s prices make the trip a little more guilt free. Try a Piccolo (small) size serving with up to three flavors for under $5. — Katie Karpowicz
Paciugo has three Chicago locations, 3241 N. Broadway, 2324 W. Giddings and 2009 W. Roscoe
Ohio ex-pats rejoiced when Jeni’s opened its first Chicago location last fall. The Columbus-based company earned a cult following with its creative flavors, artisanal approach, and locally sourced ingredients. Rather than using a premade mix, the ice cream’s base is made with grass-grazed milk originating a few hundred miles from Jeni’s kitchen. Check out the seasonal flavors for a an original take on timely ingredients or indulge in perennial favorites like Bangkok Peanut, Goat Cheese with Red Cherries, or their signature Salty Caramel. Jeni’s uses compostable tasting cups and spoons so you can try every flavor guilt-free, good news for Chicagoans since Jeni’s recently announced a second location in Wicker Park!— Jessica Mlinaric
Jeni’s is located at 3404 N. Southport Ave.
Established in 1921, Margie’s Candies is a classic ice cream parlor dripping with nostalgia and the best hot fudge you’ve ever tasted. I’m lucky enough to live within a block of the original location on Western, which seems to have all of the original décor down to the fake flowers and lopsided booths. The staff is always friendly and the sundaes are created with lightning speed. They’re remarkably efficient, a necessity on hot summer days when the line snakes out onto Western avenue. Their homemade ice cream is available in classic flavors, both by the pint and scooped into a sundae shell. The hot fudge is to die for and the whipped cream is “whipped to your fantasy.” I recommend bringing a friend and going to town on a banana split or going solo with a double scoop in a homemade, chocolate-dipped waffle cone. Beware, wait times can tip toe close to an hour during the summer months. — Erika Kubick
Margie’s Candies is located at 1960 N. Western Ave and 1813 W. Montrose Ave.
Mario’s Italian Lemonade
Crowds flock during the summer months to get their hands on some frozen Italian lemonade at this Little Italy staple. The chilled lemonade acts as a base for layers of flavors and generous toppings of fresh fruit. No trip to Chicago is complete without a visit to Mario’s and an attendant brain freeze, you'll wolf this down so fast. —Chuck Sudo
Mario’s Italian Lemonade is located at 1066 W. Taylor St.
Blackbird and Avec’s Pastry Chef Dana Cree has long accented her desserts with delicious and innovative ice creams. Now you can take them home from Publican Quality Meats, where she stocks small runs of flavors like fernet mint chip and nutter butter. If that’s not enough for you, Publican Pastry Chef Anna Shovers has also stocked the freezer case with “Pub Pops”- fancy push pops like goat milk toffee and drumstick (chocolate and nuts). — Melissa McEwen
Hello Ice Cream is available at Publican Quality Meats, located at 825 W. Fulton Market.
Scooter’s Frozen Custard
Husband and wife duo Mardi and Denny Moore left telecommunications careers in 2003 to open Scooter’s Frozen Custard at the corner of Belmont and Paulina. The mom and pop custard shop offers a variety of sundaes, shakes, malts, and italian ice. Scooter’s specialty comes in the form of concretes that pile frozen custard high over a mixture of flavor combinations that cross the sweet tooth spectrum. The more traditional “Chocolate Yum Yum” layers chocolate custard and a shot of hot fudge over a blended brownie while the “Peanut Butter & Jelly” combines vanilla custard with real peanut butter and black raspberry syrup for a perfect recreation of the sandwich with a cold glass of milk. Scooter’s also offers a rotating flavor of the day that can range from “Royal Cake Batter” to “Sea Salt Caramel”. The small storefront is open on a seasonal basis and summer is the prime time to stop in for a taste of ice cream’s creamier cousin. — Robert Martin
Scooter’s Frozen Custard is located at 1658 W. Belmont Ave
As much as a love classic creamy ice cream, I’ve had a soft spot for frozen yogurt since the childhood trips to TCBY. FroYo has come a long way since then, now a popular (and sometimes healthier) alternative to more indulgent frozen sweet treats with numerous franchises, flavors and toppings sweeping the nation during this frozen yogurt craze. Although I’ve tried many spots in the city, my favorite one I come back to again and again is Forever Yogurt. The chain first started with their store in Bucktown back in 2010 and have quickly ballooned to a huge company, with locations in numerous states and overseas. The idea is simple and caters to those who love control: pick as much yogurt and toppings as you want and just pay by weight. So you can go plain and simple or mix multiple flavors and top with fruit, hot fudge and mochi. They offer multiple yogurt flavors for you to try, but some of my favorites have been red velvet cupcake, orchard cherry and key lime sorbet. The nice thing is you can sample the flavors so you can be sure your pick is what you crave. I also like that I can choose something super sweet or more refreshing depending on my mood and I can control how much or little I buy. Forever Yogurt is one of my favorite places to cool down on a hot summer day. — Lisa White
Forever Yogurt has multiple locations throughout Chicago and the suburbs.
Sugar Shack's Funnel Cake Sundae. Photo Credit: Chuck Sudo
The Sugar Shack on 26th Street
Summer in Bridgeport rings in when this shop opens its order window. From May through October the Sugar Shack is one of the busiest spots in the neighborhood, serving an array of floats, shakes and sundaes using either soft serve or scooped ice cream. But the Sugar Shack is best known for its funnel cake sundae. The regular-sized one can feed a family of four and comes topped with three scoops of vanilla ice cream and your choice of wet and dry toppings. Trust me when I say you should stick with the mini version; it’s less of a hit to your wallet and your waistline. —Chuck Sudo
The Sugar Shack on 26th Street is located at 630 W. 26th Street.
Black Dog Gelato
Black Dog Gelato, the brainchild of chef/owner Jessica Olroso, offers a rotating selection of gelato made fresh daily, using ingredients like seasonal fruits and high quality chocolates to create both classic and one-of-a-kind gelato. While popular flavors do sell out early on in the day, you’re lucky to indulge on inventive combinations like goat cheese cashew caramel, rosemary Irish cream or white chocolate banana curry. The company also offers an array of sorbets, crafting varieties like raspberry apple cider and cucumber rosewater. If you want a serious treat, place an order for the whiskey bacon gelato bar. — Erika Kubick
Black Dog Gelato is located on 859 N. Damen Ave. and 1955 W. Belmont Ave.
Miko’s Italian Ice
It was the very sweaty summer of 2012 and I needed something, anything, to stop from melting in the heat on my walk home from the Blue Line. Thankfully I spotted Miko’s tiny storefront on Damen and since then I've enjoyed just about every flavor on the menu. From the classics like lemon and raspberry, to seasonal favorites like blueberry, cherry and pumpkin there’s a flavor combo for all cravings. Each cup is overflowing and packed with real chunks of fruit and makes for a treat is that’s never overly sweet and always refreshing. The spot (which also has a Logan Square location) is cash only, with limited outdoor seating, so grab a combo of your favorite fruity flavors to eat on-the-go. —Gina Provenzano
Miko’s Italian Ice is located at 1846 N. Damen and 2236 N. Sacramento Ave.