It’s prime ice cream season -- although for some of us it’s perpetually ice cream season -- and that means it’s high time to find the best scoop shops in Chicago. Head to any of these 10 local ice cream spots to fulfill your lactose destiny.
Nothing sucks more than getting stuck in line behind the world’s most indecisive ice cream eater. Avoid that situation altogether with a trip to the OG dessert shack that invented the answer to ice cream-related uncertainty: the eponymous Rainbow Cone. Stacked with chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House, pistachio, and orange sherbet, the colorful treat covers all the major flavor bases at once, and tastes every bit as great as it looks. A must-eat if you’ve lived here for any amount of time.
Made with ingredients sourced from central Wisconsin farms, the house-made custard at this cozy, family-owned shop is easily the best in town. Score custard served straight up in a cup or cone, drenched in hot fudge, blended into supremely rich shakes, or whipped into Blizzard-like concretes with mix-ins ranging from marshmallow cream and decaf coffee syrup to Butterfinger chunks and chocolate chip cookie dough.
Ten out of 10 dentists polled agree that Sugar Shack is good for Chicago’s collective (and hopefully cavity-resistant) sweet tooth, so go for broke with the Shack’s famous Funnel Cake Sundae, which comes with a healthy dose of vanilla soft serve, your choice of wet and dry toppings, whipped cream, a maraschino cherry, and a dusting of powdered sugar.
Ukrainian Village/Roscoe Village
This two-location gelateria prepares its artisanal gelatos and sorbets from scratch every morning in order to offer guests the freshest gelato possible; as such, when a flavor runs out, it’s out until the next day, so try to plan your visit earlier in the day. Flavors vary frequently, but have recently included malted vanilla, blueberry French toast, and cucumber rosewater sorbet.
From a Hocus Pocus shake made with rainbow sherbet, Sprite, and Pop Rocks (!) to pretzel cones stacked with scoops of horchata and black raspberry ice cream, this spot knows a thing or two about creative frozen treats. Banana fans can indulge in a scoop of Fat Elvis, chocoholics have Zoreo (Zanzibar chocolate + Oreos), and even if everyone else you know forgot your birthday, George’s birthday cake flavor will remind you of a time when you were loved.
The ice cream at this near-century-old ice cream parlor and candy shop is simple and straightforward on its own; mixed into a hand-spun malt or caught in a flurry of sundae toppings, on the other hand? A balance of comfortingly nostalgic and blissfully indulgent. Try a fully loaded banana split, Margie’s signature turtle sundae, or the best damn chocolate malt you’ll ever have.
This cheerful neighborhood destination serves a mix of classic and specialty homemade ice cream flavors, including a couple boozy numbers like the merlot-spiked “Signature Sunset” and the “Lakeview Barhopper,” a decadent concoction of Dutch cocoa ice cream with your boy Jack (Daniels, of course) -- backwards Cubs hat and “Frat Star” muscle tee not included.
No, it’s not a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow -- it’s Cone, Chicago’s preeminent Irish ice cream shop. Craving soft serve? Order the “Shamrock,” which is essentially a cone of soft serve covered in magically delicious Lucky Charms. Alcohol deficient? Refuel with “Arthur Guinness” made with Guinness and bits of Irish soda bread that’s best described as a gift from the ice cream gods.
Traditional Mexican flavors infiltrate a selection over 30 ice cream varieties at this outside-the-box ice cream shop, and the result is nothing short of mouthwatering. The avocado ice cream tastes like sugary guac (trust us, it’s terrific), the rose petal scoops are unapologetically floral, and the mole ice cream packs serious heat thanks to four types of chili peppers ground into a chocolate base.
This 22-seat Parisian-style gelato shop sports luxe finishes like exposed brick, wood trim, and crystal-encrusted light fixtures, and offers a vibrant selection of gelatos and several Lavazza coffee drinks. Stop in for flavors like dulce de leche, passion fruit, and dark chocolate -- all artfully shaped into the shop’s signature flower shape atop a cone.
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1. Sugar Shack630 W 26th St, Chicago
2. George's Ice Cream & Sweets5306 N Clark St, Chicago
3. Margie's Candies1960 N Western Ave, Chicago
4. Bobtail Ice Cream Company2951 N Broadway, Chicago
5. Cone1047 W Madison St, Chicago
6. Delicias Natural2867 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
7. Amorino838 North State St, Chicago
8. Scooter's Frozen Custard1658 W Belmont Ave, Chicago
9. Rainbow Cone9233 S Western Ave, Chicago
This Bridgeport sweets spot will make your childhood county fair dreams come true with Funnel Cake Sundaes (!) and a host of other dishes with super-sweet flavor combinations.
From old-school malts and floats to new-school scoops like Horchata and Fat Elvis (banana ice cream with peanut butter ripple and liquid chocolate chips) served in pretzel-encrusted cones, George’s is Andersonville’s go-to ice creamery and home to maybe the most intense milkshake in Chicago. If you're feeling adventurous, order the the Hocus Pocus shake, made with rainbow sherbet, Sprite, and POP-ROCKS.
To put it in blunt terms, you simply haven't lived the true Chicago life until you've been to the legendary Margie's Candies. Serving Bucktown since 1921, this generations-old candy shop offers every confection imaginable, all made by hand every day. The ice cream, scooped into homemade waffle cones and delicately dipped in a rich chocolate sauce, is so decadent that both The Rolling Stones and The Beatles have ventured here after shows to satisfy their (brown) sugar cravings.
A favorite neighborhood destination, Bobtail offers traditional flavors like Vanilla Bean, Chocolate and Strawberry. But also check out their specialty flavors, including Signature Sunset and Lakeview Barhopper -- which include Merlot and Jack Daniels, respectively.
Cone's an ice-creamery in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood, and's slinging out a whole bunch of Irish boozy frozen treats in addition to some non-boozy, non-Irish ones.
Delicias Natural is a Mexican ice-creamery scooping up some crazy South-of-the-border-inspired frozen treats, such as avocado and tequila ice creams.
Paris-based gelato shop Amorino opened in Chicago in a sleek 22-seat storefront on State St, complete with exposed brick, crystal-encrusted light fixtures, and a vibrant gelato selection spanning some 16 varieties.
This mom and pop shop serves their frozen custard anyway you like. Their top selling "concrete" is known as the Elvis, and features vanilla custard with peanut butter cups and bananas. But if that's not your style, you can grab a sundae, plain custards, shakes & malts, or create your own concrete. You can also grab a hot dog and chips, if, for some reason you want one.
An unexpected ice cream combination has kept Beverly’s Rainbow Cone in the hearts of Chicagoans since 1926: a retro sugar cone piled with layers of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (vanilla with cherries and walnuts), pistachio, and orange sherbet. Lick layer by layer or go for a cross-section bite. You can’t do it wrong. Carry-out cakes of the same invention are on offer in the bright pink stucco store, in addition to sundaes, splits and shakes. A kiosk location at Navy Pier brings the sugar rush waterside.