With this summer's smoldering temps, we’ll take a simple hot fudge–drenched cup of soft-serve from Dairy Queen any chance we’ll get. But it’s far more satisfying digging a metal spoon into a real sundae as reward for wading through the oppressive humidity. Here are eight tricked-out, frosty renditions around the country.
Atlanta: Warm Valrhona Chocolate Brownie Sundae at Marcel
A nod to French boxer Marcel Cerdan, Marcel, chef-owner Ford Fry’s newest lair on Atlanta’s Westside, is the spot for lobster club sandwiches on sourdough. After such a fancy lunch, the decadence continues in the form of pastry chef Chrysta Poulos’ special sundae, uniting a warm Valrhona chocolate brownie with vanilla bean ice cream, salted caramel, hot fudge and crème chantilly. Capped off with a crunchy drizzle of roasted and salted peanuts, it also makes a midnight snack–perfect appearance on the late-night menu.
1170 Howell Mill Rd., Atlanta; 404-665-4555
Chicago: Chicagoland Sundae at the Langham, Chicago
There may be no swankier Downtown perch for afternoon tea than the second floor of the Langham, Chicago. But come 6 PM, the airy room transforms into the hotel’s Parlour at the Pavilion. Here, pastry chef Scott Green’s massive, easy-to-feed-five-people sundaes take center stage. The Graceland, mingling peanut butter cup, chocolate and banana ice creams with fresh banana, peanuts, banana chip brittle, hot fudge, peanut butter and salted caramel, is one adventurous option; another is the Chicagoland with chocolate chip cookie dough and chocolate ice creams and chunks of cheesecake (pictured). Along with morsels of chocolate cake, hot fudge, salted caramel, whipped cream and a cherry, it’s strewn with Windy City favorite Garrett caramel popcorn.
330 N. Wabash St., Chicago; 312-923-9988
An intricate java concoction is typically what lures one to Ogawa Coffee, the first U.S. outpost of the celebrated Japanese roaster in Boston’s Downtown Crossing. If sipping a flight of single-origin brews doesn’t jibe with the searing sun, then consider springing for the cooling, whipped cream–crowned sundae. In this unconventional version, housemade coffee gelatin is layered with fruit, crispy roasted corn flakes and a chocolate terrine.
10 Milk St., Boston; 617-780-7139
Washington, DC: Greek Sundae at Kapnos
The Greek sundae at Kapnos Taverna, the Arlington, Virginia–based sibling to Mike Isabella’s Washington, DC hit Kapnos, is devoid of sprinkles, but it does feature alluring crumbs of chocolate cake and baklava. The from-scratch vanilla and chocolate ice creams, laden with chocolate syrup, whipped cream and brandied cherries, are a fitting finale to Aleppo pepper marinated short-rib souvlaki.
4000 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-243-4400
Portland: No. 9 Tea Ice Cream Sundae at Urban Farmer Steakhouse
Urban Farmer Steakhouse, inside the atrium of Portland, Oregon’s Nines Hotel, serves up the No. 9 Tea ice cream sundae, a light, refreshing alternative to the night’s hefty grass-fed rib-eye. Steeped in the city’s own Steven Smith No. 9 tea, a black elixir blended with aromatic rose petals, it’s dressed in Bee Local Portland Farmland honey and pollen. Bonus: the trifecta of cookies — florentine, brown-butter madeleine, hazelnut linzer — that accompanies the dish.
525 SW Morrison St., Portland; 503-222-4900
Philadelphia: Do It Yourself Sundae at Independence Beer Garden
Stretching out in the shade with a spicy shrimp roll and chilled glass of Victory Summer Love over a board game at Philadelphia’s Independence Beer Garden is certainly a pleasant way to while away a free afternoon. It gets even better by splurging on the Do It Yourself sundae, wherein fudge sauce, walnuts, peanuts, M&M's and classic rainbow sprinkles are woven into a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
100 S. Independence Mall W., Philadelphia; 215-922-7100
Dallas: Pistachio and Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae at CBD Provisions
Avoid the searing Texas heat for just a spell longer by sticking around for dessert at CBD Provisions. Inside Dallas’ Joule Hotel, pastry chef Ruben Torano makes an ethereal pistachio and vanilla ice cream sundae plumped up with huckleberry cake and bright candied lemon and meringue. The boozy apricot rum syrup snaking through it paves the way for myriad nightcaps at Midnight Rambler downstairs.
1530 Main St., Dallas, 214-261-4500
NYC: Tres Leches and Espresso Sundae at The Ribbon
Although the traditional hot fudge sundae at the Ribbon, the Bromberg Bros.’ latest hit on New York’s Upper West Side, satiates, skip it for the restaurant’s more ambitious iteration. In this one, vanilla ice cream and pieces of fluffy tres leches cake get a jolt from white chocolate sauce, candied walnuts, whipped cream and a shot of espresso.
20 W. 72nd St., New York; 212-787-5656