Considering the wealth of culinary innovation going on in this town, it'd be hard to imagine that frozen treat options ended at ice cream on a stick. From cheesecake-flavored gelato to frozen custard to cantaloupe Italian ice, these icy sweets have you asking, Baskin who? Stop your calorie counting and start reading—and licking—on.
Canady Le Chocolatier
The South Loop's Canady Le Chocolatier may be known for its gourmet chocolates like chocolate-covered ginger slices, but locals know the store's gelato as a special occasion summer's day sweet. Don't even bother asking about low-fat flavors—they don't exist, and the staff will laugh in your face. Served in a hearty, two-scoop cup, the stuff is homemade daily in flavors such as mascarpone (which tastes like smoothly whipped cheesecake), grasshopper (mint topped with cookie crumbles) and burnt caramel.
There's more to Devon than chicken tikka, and bustling bakery/neighborhood creamy Sukhadia's Sweets is one of the best places to dip into authentic Indian dessert. When the staff isn't busy shipping its almond poori and cashew pista rolls around the country, it's scooping extra creamy ice cream, made particularly thick through its process of production (the milk is reduced while it's being mixing). Six to eight flavors sold daily range from the usual—mango—to decidedly unusual—saffron pistachio and chocolate orange. Plus, it's a steal: a giant single scoop costs $1.50.
Anthony's Homemade Italian Ice
Home to Dairy Queen, Cold Stone and homegrown Bobtail Soda Fountain, Southport has become a go-to stretch for frozen sweets, and Anthony's Homemade Italian Ice holds its own. Among the 18-plus flavors, banana, peach and owner favorite coconut are the people's top picks, but passion fruit, black cherry and cantaloupe don't sound shabby either. Owner Michael Mednick says his ice reigns supreme because it's so fresh and natural. Anthony's also offers 16 flavors of Homer's ice cream, frozen yogurt (soft serve chocolate, vanilla and peanut butter), malts, shakes and sundaes.
Original Rainbow Cone
Original Rainbow Cone offers 28 flavors of ice cream, but most folks come to this Beverly institution, open since 1926, for its namesake—the original rainbow cone (or rainbow cup, should you prefer it cone-free). It's a delicate balance of partial scoops, layering chocolate, strawberry, palmer house (vanilla with cherries and walnuts), pistachio ice cream and orange sherbet. The joint scoops out simpler orders, too, like a black walnut scoop, sundae or shake.
Although this shop makes just three flavors a day—vanilla, chocolate and a rotating list of varieties such as chocolate chocolate chip and coffee cognac—custard fans can get much more than a simple cone. Take for instance Scooter's Concrete, which comes mixed with your choice of toppings blended so thick it can actually be served upside down; or the Brownie Sundae, a fudge nut brownie topped with your choice of custard and hot fudge The favorite combo here is the Elvis, a combo of custard, bananas and peanut butter cups. Because the custard-making process produces less air and fewer ice crystals than traditional ice cream, the frozen custard comes extra rich, thick and smooth. And since it has less butterfat than many premium ice creams, you can spoon away relatively guilt-free.