The Big Chill in Chicago
There are only two ice-cold treats Chicagoans crave: beer and ice cream. They're especially popular during warmer months when temperatures are insanely high and you need something more satisfying than water.
But for your eating and sipping pleasure, we're pointing you in the direction of the absolute best frozen desserts in the Windy City. That means, of course, that we're going beyond typical ice cream offerings for something a bit more exotic such as funnel cake sundaes and ice cream donut sandwiches. You'll even find a few boozy temptations certain to keep you refreshed during the hottest days of the year. Here's where to go for the big chill.
Black Dog Gelato
In a few short years, Black Dog Gelato has become synonymous with high-quality frozen treats. Accomplished pastry chef/proprietor Jessica Oloroso maintains the same quality of ingredients as her highly regarded pastries when she worked under celebrity chef Stephanie Izard (Girl and the Goat). The Whiskey Bacon Gelato Bar is a best seller and one you must get when the store first opens. It's nonalcoholic, so it may be consumed by children and adults. Black Dog is located in Ukrainian Village, which is adjacent to Wicker Park. 859 N. Damen Ave., 773-235-3116
Cocoa + Co.
Located a few blocks south of Lincoln Park Zoo, the adorable chocolate-focused Cocoa + Co. cafe has expanded its menu to include gourmet ice cream sandwiches during warmer months. You can choose from four flavors, and each is stuffed with locally based Homer's Ice Cream that's been rolled in pecans, peppermint candies, crushed Oreos or chocolate chunks. 1651 N. Wells St., 312-624-8540
Cone Gourmet Ice Cream
An Irish-themed ice cream shop? That's the deal with Cone, which serves specialty frozen treats in the West Loop. At the top of our list is the Irish mint chocolate cone that resembles a shamrock when you order four scoops. Enjoy all that goodness on the spacious back garden patio, which is especially popular for summer birthday parties for children. 1047 W. Madison St., 312-666-5111
Sherry fanatics should get excited about the latest offering from Income Tax, one of Chicago's hottest new destinations, located in Edgewater near Andersonville. The wine-focused restaurant's frosty delight pays tribute to the sherry-focused element of its beverage program with an Oloroso sherry-infused ice cream. It's topped with candied orange peel and almond garnish rounds and it's very boozy. 5959 North Broadway, 773-897-9165
Maple & Ash Sundae
"Sundae Service" is what the posh Gold Coast steakhouse Maple & Ash is calling its towering and chic ice cream presentation, which arrives with hot fudge, salted caramel, toasted nuts, candy, whipped cream and seasonal fruit. It's enough to feed the entire table, and of course it's offered every day. 8 W. Maple St., 312-944-8888
Mario's Italian Lemonade
A staple on the Near West Side since 1954, this no-frills stand serves up the best Italian ice in the city. Flavors range from fruit cocktail to frozen lemonade, with the latter being the most popular. During peak periods, expect to wait in line at least 30 minutes. 1068 W. Taylor St.
Original Rainbow Cone
At this Far South Side institution that's been around since the Roaring Twenties you can order classic ice cream flavors like black walnut, butter pecan and New York vanilla. But why do that when you're in the home of the place where you may order chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (named in honor of the famous downtown Chicago hotel), pistachio and orange sherbet all on one cone? That's the Original Rainbow Cone, and if you don't have time to make your way all the way to the South Side, it's a staple at Taste of Chicago. 9233 S. Western Ave., 773-238-7075
Parson's Chicken & Fish
Offering the largest beer garden in hip Logan Square, Parson's Chicken & Fish specializes in fried chicken, large-format beers and craft cocktails. One of the biggest attractions is the Negroni slushy--an original concept made with the cocktail's classic ingredients of gin, Campari and vermouth. 2952 W. Armitage Ave., 773-384-3333
Here's something chill and family friendly to do before or after a White Sox game at Guaranteed Rate Field. Only a few blocks away is Sugar Shack, where you'll find the famed funnel cake sundae made with vanilla soft serve, choice of toppings and a cherry on top. It may be a little too much for the little ones, so they may order mini funnel cake sundaes. 630 W. 26th St., 312-225-6568
During the winter, it's the spicy Mexican hot chocolate folks obsess over at Rick Bayless' casual Latin-influenced eatery, but when summer rolls around it's all about the soft serve. It's topped with locally sourced farm fresh strawberries or cherries (whatever's best in season) and additional accompaniments such as dark chocolate crumble, homemade chocolate ganache or cajeta. 449 N. Clark St. or 1471 N. Milwaukee Ave.