The Best Ice Cream Shops In Chicago, Illinois

Photo of Beth Somers
9 February 2017

Summertime in Chicago, Illinois, can swelter, making it the right time to indulge in a cold scoop or two of ice cream. When it’s time to beat the heat, get to one of these great ice cream parlors.

Ice Cream | ©Matt Acevedo/Flickr

Black Dog Gelato

Ice Cream Parlour, Ice Cream
Black Dog Gelato, Chicago
Black Dog Gelato, Chicago | © Joy/Flickr
Nestled on a corner in Ukrainian Village, this small shop serves more than a dozen kinds of artisanal gelato and sorbet. Flavors rotate on a daily basis. Small batches of traditional and inventive flavors rotate in and out of the display cases. Watch the churning process happen live in their open kitchen, and be on the lookout for collaborations with other local foodie destinations. Black Dog Gelato has been known to team up with Glazed and Infused doughnut shop for limited edition doughnut gelato sandwiches that sell out quicker than ice cream melts on a 100-degree day. Bring cash – this location doesn’t accept credit card.

Bobtail Ice Cream

Bobtail Ice Cream Company is a quiet oasis on a bustling stretch of Broadway Avenue in Lakeview. Old-fashioned ice cream parlor decor and family recipes three generations old give Bobtail an air of yesteryear. However, one of the shops most requested flavors, signature sunset, is anything but old. It’s a smooth merlot-flavored ice cream studded with premium dark chocolate chips. The menu is rounded out with classic, kid-friendly flavors made with locally sourced ingredients.

Bobtail, 2951 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL USA 1 773 880 7372

Cone Gourmet Ice Cream

Ice Cream Parlour, Ice Cream, $$$
Cone Gourmet Ice Cream, Chicago
Cone Gourmet Ice Cream, Chicago | © Leigh Ann Kopans/Flickr
This family-friendly West Loop ice cream shop is run by Irish ex-pats, and their heritage leaves its mark all over the Cone menu. The shamrock is a fun, tasty cone filled with creamy vanilla soft serve and rolled in Lucky Charms cereal. Boozy premium flavors include Bailey’s Irish Cream, Jameson, and Arthur Guinness, made with rich stout beer and traditional Irish soda bread.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

Ice Cream Parlour, Ice Cream, $$$
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, North Southport Avenue
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, North Southport Avenue | © Lisa Harbin/Flickr
Ice Cream Mogul Jeni Britton Bauer uses unusual flavor combinations and fresh ingredients in her small-batch ice creams. Even the most common flavors are anything but basic, including the milkiest chocolate in the world and Ndali Estate vanilla bean. Jeni’s real showstoppers are speciality flavors like reisling poached pear sorbet and brambleberry crisp. A selection of gravel toppings, the crunchy bits that can be sprinkled on top, are equally interesting and well worth the upcharge. The salty graham gravel, crushed fresh graham crackers baked in butter with a generous hint of sea salt, is a favorite. Jeni’s has a secondary Chicago outpost in Wicker Park.

Margie’s Candies

This iconic Chicago ice cream parlor has been serving up frozen treats since 1921. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Al Capone have all stopped by Margie’s. Its iconic storefront sign and giant ice cream cone statue are pure nostalgia, as are the white clamshell bowls used as dine-in serving pieces for those brave enough to withstand the long waits for tables. Every sundae comes with a wafer cookie, and the homemade hot fudge sauce is extra dark and rich. The entire menu is also available to go, but expect a 15-30 minute wait during busy summer nights.

Margie’s Candies, 1960 N. Western Ave. Chicago, IL USA 1 773 384 1035

The Plush Horse

Ice Cream Parlour, Ice Cream, $$$
This throwback ice cream parlor has been a part of the Palos Park community since 1937 and it scoops up homemade ice cream with historic flair. Their self-proclaimed epic list of flavors has an impressive 51 kinds of ice cream. Enjoy classic milkshakes, sundaes, malts, and in the old-fashioned dining room, decorated in a carousel theme. Alternatively, take your treats outside to enjoy the weather in their courtyard. Custom ice cream cakes are also on the menu.

Rainbow Cone

Rainbow Cone has been serving up tall ice cream cones on Chicago’s South Side since 1926. The rainbow cone booth is a staple at both Taste of Chicago and Lollapalooza, giving their namesake frozen treat fame well beyond the south side of the city. There are five different frozen flavors in a rainbow cone: chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House vanilla, pistachio, and orange sherbet. Each one is scraped onto the next in a downward pulling motion with a utensil similar to a spackle knife. A finished cone showcases each sloping color of ice cream, proudly rising up to meet its name. Put them all together and take a big lick from bottom to top, getting a taste of every flavor all at once, and it just works.

Rainbow Cone, 9233 S Western Ave, Chicago, IL USA 1 773 238-7075

Scooter’s Frozen Custard

Head to this Roscoe Village favorite for a concrete – a serving of creamy frozen custard blended with lots of chunks of candy, cookies, or fruit that is so indulgent and thick it can be served upside down. In a rush? Order from the convenient walk up window. Visit their website for a regularly updated list of weekly featured flavors. Get it while you can – Scooter’s closes completely during the cold winter months, reopening just in time for the spring thaw.

Scooter’s Frozen Custard, 1658 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL USA 1 773 244 6415

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