Purple Door Ice Cream
Two former teachers launched Purple Door Ice Cream, an artisan ice-cream business in 2011 with pints (rolling out boozy flavors like Whiskey and Brandy Old Fashioned, plus innovative twists such as Raspberry Green Tea and Lemon Cardamom) sold at local grocers and on restaurants’ dessert menus. In 2014 they opened the scoop shop. Warning: expect a line, especially if it’s a hot day. Tables and chairs outside and inside give you ample time to lick.
205 S. 2nd St., Milwaukee (Walker’s Point)
Leon's Frozen Custard
A trip to Leon’s Frozen Custard is like stepping back into the ‘40s and no wonder, as that’s how long this custard stand has been in business. The neon sign dates back to the mid-1950s and the menu features four daily favors of custard: chocolate, vanilla, butter pecan and a “flavor of the day.”
3131 S. 27th St., Milwaukee (South Side)
Known for folding in fresh, authentic ingredients for flavors of the day—such as cake batter in Wedding Cake or Sprecher root beer in Sprecher Root Beer Float—Kopp’s custard stand even has a flavor named for owner Karl Kopp’s late mother (Elsa), who founded Kopp’s in 1950.
5373 N. Port Washington Road, Glendale; 7631 W. Layton Ave., Greenfield; and 18880 W. Bluemound Road, Brookfield
As the most casual sibling in the Bartolotta Restaurants group, Northpoint Custard stand hugs Lake Michigan at Bradford Beach. It is only open from May through September and there are three custard flavors daily: vanilla (made with Madagascar vanilla), chocolate or swirl (combination of the two flavors). Five signature sundaes feature custard, too, including The Elvis (peanut butter, chocolate custard, and banana).
2272 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive, Milwaukee (East Side)
The gelato counter at Glorioso’s, an adorable family-owned Italian market on Brady Street, (a neighborhood built by Italian immigrants) features a mix of nearly a dozen traditional and offbeat flavors, such as hazelnut and salted caramel. (Interesting fact: in 2016 then-presidential candidate Ted Cruz scheduled a campaign stop here.)
1011 E. Brady St., Milwaukee (East Side)
Headquartered in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, ,Culver’s is now in several states but can be found in abundance in Southeastern Wisconsin. There’s always a flavor of the day for custard at this fast-casual eatery, such as Andes Mint Avalanche or Bonfire S’mores, in addition to chocolate and vanilla.
Whole Foods Market
Tucked into each location of Whole Food Market's massive bakery and desserts section is a full-on Gelato Bar, boasting 20 or so housemade flavors. Round out your experience with a shot of espresso, brewed and served at a nearby counter.
2305 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee (East Side); 11100 W. Burleigh Ave., Wauwatosa
Gilles Frozen Custard
A West Side staple since it opened in 1938, Gilles Frozen Custard has custard flavors including a rotating flavor of the day (for example, Orange Dreamsicle or Banana Fudge) along with 16 “basic” sundaes (from Apple to Strawberry) and 17 “fancy” sundaes with fun names, such as Lalapalooza.
7515 W. Bluemound Road, Milwaukee (West Side)
Babe's Ice Cream
A neighborhood favorite, Babe’s Ice Cream offers quite a few flavors of ice cream—30, to be exact—from Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream in Madison, including cult-favorite Zanzibar Chocolate. Vegans can get a scoop, too, thanks to the Espresso Oreo Soy flavor.
2264 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee (Bay View)
Cold Spoons Gelato
All of the 24 gelato and sorbetto flavors at Cold Spoons Gelato are made on site and in small batches (translation: the ultimate in freshness!). With an eye on sustainability, Sassy Cow Creamery’s rBGH-free milk from Wisconsin cows is used to craft each gelato flavor. Flavors include pink grapefruit, pannacotta, amaretto and caramel sea salt.
5924 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee (West Side)