8 Best Ice Cream Shops in Chicago

By Sarah Freeman  |  June 29, 2015

Cool off this summer with a scoop or two from Chicago's best ice cream shops, specializing in housemade ice creams decked out with gourmet toppings.

  • Black Dog Gelato

    Professional pastry chef turned gelato expert Jessica Oloroso opened her first storefront in 2011 to showcase her commitment to small-batch gelato and sorbet using seasonal fruit and quality flavorings. With a thicker texture and lower milk-fat content than ice cream, her gelato comes in an endless selection of flavors — maple cayenne bacon, sesame fig chocolate chip and white-chocolate banana curry.

    Must-try flavor: Goat cheese cashew caramel

    859 N. Damen Ave.; 773-235-3116

  • Cone

    Think you know the summertime treat called soft-serve? Think again. This sweet staple takes on a new taste and name at Cone, a gourmet ice cream parlor in the West Loop. Owner and Irish native Sean McGuire offers his take on the 99 Cone, vanilla soft-serve with a Irish chocolate Flake bar, as well as a variety of Irish-influenced flavors such as Irish mint chip, Guinness and Irish cream.

    Must-try flavor: Irish Breakfast (Jameson ice cream with cornflakes)

    1047 W. Madison Ave.; 312-666-5111

  • Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

    With her $5 scoops and whimsical flavor like cantaloupe and sun tea sorbet, Jeni Britton Bauer has made quite a name for herself in the ice cream business. The Columbus-based ice cream artisan has a small empire with over a dozen scoop shops, including two in Chicago that serve her extra-creamy ice creams, sorbets as well as new sundaes topped with "convo cookies" — waffle cone batter folded into the shape of a fortune cookie.

    Must-try flavor: Brown butter almond brittle

    3404 N. Southport Ave.; 773-348-7139

  • Publican Quality Meats

    In the freezer of this butcher and sandwich shop, you'll find pints of ice cream from Blackbird pastry chef Dana Cree. Her sweet creations, identified with cute "Hello my name is" labels, have gained a bit of a cult following due to craveable flavors such as bananas Foster, Nutter Butter, cookie dough and cold-press coffee. The pints cost $8 a pop, and you can see how the ice cream gets made in our behind-the-scenes feature.

    Must-try flavor: Strawberry bubblegum

    825 W. Fulton Market; 312-445-8977

  • George’s Ice Cream & Sweets

    In 2009, this Andersonville ice cream shop opened its doors with oversized scoops, shakes and malts that immediately became a neighborhood favorite. They take the classic 32 flavors and rotate seasonal twists, from eggnog in the winter to lemon meringue pie for summer, as well as special shakes, such as the Fluffer Nutter (peanut butter ice cream with marshmallow sauce), also taking turns on the menu.

    Must-try flavor: Black raspberry

    5306 N. Clark St.; 773-271-7600

  • Original Rainbow Cone

    This Chicago icon can be enjoyed in Millennium Park, but the original is found at the South Side shop, where layers of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House, pistachio and orange sherbet are served on an old-fashioned sugar cone. The equally colorful restaurant remains a family-run institution that has since expanded to offer rainbow cakes and sundaes.

    Must-try flavor: Original rainbow cones, of course

    9233 S. Western Ave.; 773-238-7075

  • Scooter’s Frozen Custard

    Fans of this seasonal shop’s fresh-made custard wait months for it to reopen each spring. Using ingredients from family farms in Wisconsin, the housemade custard is 40% lower in butterfat than other high-end ice creams, with flavors of vanilla, chocolate and season specials. It’s best enjoyed in one of the signature concretes, where the like of fruits, nuts and peanut butter cups get swirled into the custard.

    Must-try flavor: Sea salt caramel custard

    1658 W. Belmont Ave.; 773-244-6415

  • Margie’s Candies

    Just about everyone screams for ice cream after walking past the nostalgia-filled candy shop that specializes in oversized sundaes, including notable patrons Al Capone and The Beatles. Scoops of housemade ice cream, ranging in flavor from mint chip to butter pecan, are served in a ceramic shell and covered in hot fudge, whipped cream, chopped nuts and, of course, a maraschino cherry.

    Must try-flavor: New York cherry

    1960 N. Western Ave.; 773-384-1035