The Windy City is home to yummy deep-dish pizza, Lollapalooza, and Cloud Gate (you know, that thing everyone calls The Bean). But did you know they had so many cute, quirky ice cream shops?
Here’s the inside scoop on the nine best places to get ice cream in the Windy City.
1. Scooter’s Frozen Custard
Scooter’s is your typical Mom and Pop custard shop. They’re known for their “concretes,” which is a cup of their custard with mix-ins/flavors blended together thick enough that it can be held upside down, similar to Blizzard from Dairy Queen. They also serve sundaes, shakes, malts, Italian ice, and more.
2. Original Rainbow Cone
The story of how Original Rainbow Cone came to be is actually pretty awesome. Joseph Sapp, founder of the Original Rainbow Cone, was an orphan on a work farm. One of his luxuries was buying ice cream with the pennies he earned, and the only choices were vanilla or chocolate — but Sapp wanted even more flavors on his cone. In 1926, Sapp started Original Rainbow with his wife Katherine while working as a mechanic. The Rainbow Cone went through many variations, but the winning combination was chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House, pistachio and orange sherbet — and remains the same to this day.
3. Margie’s Candies
Three scoops of delicious ice cream, whipped cream, nuts, and a never-ending river of hot fudge in a white clamshell dish is exactly what you expect when you go to Margie’s. The ginormous splits and sundaes are a staple of the shop, as well as their yummy shakes, malts, and homemade candy.
4. Graeter’s Ice Cream
This Cincinnati-based creamery is made with the french-pot process. In simpler terms, it means the ice cream is made in a 2 ½ gallon batch, one batch at a time. It sounds like a lot of extra effort on their part, but that’s what makes it so delicious. Graeter’s is also known for their giant chocolate chunks. Like seriously, giant.
5. Black Dog Gelato
Black Dog’s chef and owner, Jessie Oloroso, creates gourmet gelato and sorbet by combining the artisanal process with unique, innovative flavors. To name a few, there’s Goat Cheese Cashew Caramel, Mexican Hot Chocolate, Blood Orange Sorbet, and Butterscotch Bourbon Pecan (and yes, it’s spiked).
6. Bobtail Ice Cream Company
This sweet little shop has your classic scoops, sundaes, shakes, as well as the Bobtail Cafe. The Bobtail Cafe whips up coffee and ice cream concoctions that are absolutely to die for, like the Cream Express Shake, which is made with vanilla ice cream and a double shot of Espresso. Can you say yum?
Their made-from-scratch gelato ranges from your standard Double Chocolate, to your fun flavors like Pistachio and Banana Split. You can even upgrade your gelato-game and get it in cookie-sandwich form, which is kind of awesome. If you aren’t feeling gelato, they also serve Italian ice, donuts, and coffee.
Maybe a cupcake (or cupcake-flavored ice cream) will help? This sweet-eatery will surely give you cavities if you’re a frequent flyer. Their ice cream and cupcake shakes are great, but the SmallCakes Smash is their staple — the bottom of the cupcake lies in the bottom of the cup, their signature ice cream in the middle, and the rest of the cupcake sits on top. So amazing.
9. Cone Gourmet Ice Cream
With menu items like The Shamrock — soft-serve covered with Lucky Charms — and the Irish Flag Cone — a three-layer cone with Pistachio, Vanilla, and Orange Sherbet — Cone Gourmet’s Irish flair sets them apart from other shops in the Windy City. In addition to their Irish favorites, they’re known for their unique flavors, like the Cookie Monster, Jameson, Blueberry Cream Cheese, Fudgy Banana, Arthur Guinness, and more.