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Twin Cities Ice Cream/Custard Stands

  • h

Any thoughts as to which parlor/custard stand is the best in town? My personal nominees are:

-Grand Ole Creamery
-Sebastian Joe's

(FD, I released a guide on the topic)

Link: http://www.happybellyguides.com/index...

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  1. You've pretty much covered it as far as I'm concerned. My overall favorite is Izzy's. However, if I'm after something more "refined" or a sorbet, Crema is where I would head. Sebastian Joe's gets my third place vote...moves up on the list if I'm wanting something more off-the-wall.

    My "FD"...I'm not all that enamored with custard. I'm a hard-packed ice cream guy.

    1. I love Izzy's best, BUT it may be because I am lactose intolerant. They have great sorbet and sometimes have soy ice cream. And I can handle an Izzy scoop of real ice cream.

      1. My ranking:
        1. Pumphouse Cremery
        2. Crema
        3. Izzy's

        I like Adele's for frozen custard -- especially their custard pies.

        1. What a great topic!

          My personal favorite is Izzy's - I love the rich taste, the variety of flavors, the izzy scoop, and the neighborhood feel of the place. My top flavors at Izzy's are Mexican chocolate fiesta, Dark chocolate zinfandel, the zingy Grapefruit sorbet, and the Strawberry (although normally, this is a "meh" flavor for me - thanks for the word, Alice!).

          Alas, I haven't been impressed by the local custard - none is as good as the custard I've had in Milwaukee. But I'm always willing to give it another try.


          1. We are blesesed with options. Great things about each:

            -Adele's: Drive through and bar-b-q sandwiches.
            -Crema: Setting, Sonny, and blood orange sorbet.
            -Grand Ole Creamery: Waffle cone arsenal!
            -Izzy's: the Izzabella.
            -Liberty: ambiance.
            -Pumphouse: Barb, root beer selection, and Oatmeal Cookie flavor.
            -Sebastian Joe's: WiFi and within walking distance for me.

            Link: http://www.happybellyguides.com

            1. My vote is Pumphouse first, then Crema. Both use high
              quality organic dairy products, never use artificial
              coloring (horrors!) , have creative flavors that work
              well, don't overdo the sugar, and taste GREAT! No one
              else comes close in my opinion. Thanks for listening.

              1. v

                I've been to these:

                Sebastian Joe's

                Pumphouse has some great flavors, Sebastion Joe's has good chocolate and Crema has a wonderful mouth feel, yet nobody seems to make a GREAT vanilla ice cream. Yeah, Vanilla. It's what I try first to judge a parlour/stand. Some place in my youth I had the best vanilla ice milk - maybe a little crystalline but the flavor was tops. I've tried replicating it on my own but it's really tough to do so I don't fault our local places for falling short of my pedestrian desire.

                I hope I'm not straying too far off topic but who has the best vanilla?

                4 Replies
                1. re: venus_de_mpls

                  to be honest, for vanilla, I would say try Haagen Dasz, Julie's Organic, and Ben & Jerry's Organic. All
                  good vanillas in my estimation. Co-ops sell Julie's
                  and Ben & Jerry's organic flavors. Let me know if you
                  like any of them.

                  1. re: Faith Lubitz

                    Forgot to add one more store brand of good vanilla. It's called Sibby's, from Wisconsin, organic vanilla
                    and chocolate is all I've seen. Wedge doesn't have it
                    any more, but I saw it recently somewhere like maybe
                    Linden Hills coop. I know what you mean about the grainy texture that's getting hard to find these days though. I think the gums and thickeners a lot of places use make the grainyness go away and smooth it out. Haagen-Dasz seems to be one of the only ones that don't use gums, at least not listed on their label.

                  2. re: venus_de_mpls

                    I was pretty impressed with Pumphouse's vanilla.

                    Another great place for vanilla is Oberweis Dairy but they are only located in IL, IN and MO. Rainbow Foods has begun carrying their milk but I don't believe they have the ice cream yet.

                    1. re: venus_de_mpls

                      Sebastian Joe's Malted Vanilla Ice Cream is one of my very favorites. It is divine with rhubarb sauce.

                    2. t
                      The Dairy Queen

                      I know it's not in the same league as the handcrafted ice creams at Izzy's or Grand Ole Creamery or any of the other wonderful places already mentioned, but I have to throw Conny's Creamy Cone into the mix. Sometimes, on those steamy summer afternoons, soft serve ice cream hits the spot, and Conny's offers a rainbow array of flavors they mix on the premises. Sadly, they are closed for the season.

                      Conny's Creamy Cone, 1197 Dale Street N (at Maryland), St. Paul, 651-778-8164


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        my favorite is definitely liberty.There chocolate always hits the spot along with there mango italian ice. Its the best

                      2. I see a few people in this thread mentioned Adele’s... I’ve never heard of it. Is it still around? (The thread is from ‘05). Where is it? Love to check it out...

                        Uncle Ira

                        29 Replies
                        1. re: Uncle Ira

                          Adele's is certainly around and kicking!! It is in Excelsior near Lake Minnetonka right near Maynard's on Excelsior Blvd. It is a quaint little house with a drive-through. The custard is the best around! You can call to get the two featured flavours per day and def pick up the calendar of flavours when you stop by.

                          On the ice cream front, I went to Crema today and had a wonderful Banana Caramel flavour. Also on feature Olive Oil, Wasabi and Sour Cream ice creams.

                          1. re: RedPepper

                            Thanks... That’s quite a bit off my beaten path, but I’ll keep it in mind when I’m out that way! !

                            Uncle Ira

                            1. re: RedPepper

                              Funny that Crema is serving a Banana Caramel flavor. Pumphouse also just started featuring a Malted Banana Caramel flavor, and I have to admit that I think it is my favorite flavor at Pumphouse, ever. There's something about the caramel which seems to bring the flavor together better than just plain banana, and the malt adds a bit of depth -- all the while tasting like a very fresh banana, with none of that artificial "banana flavoring" aftertaste.

                              1. re: Chris Mitra

                                if you guys have been to liberty, whats your opinion on the place.

                                1. re: davuhr

                                  Liberty is a gem. They have just a few basic flavors of high-quality custard, with some excellent toppings, and a range of snacky food items, like Nathan's hot dogs. The restored gas station is an architectural gem. It's the kind of place you want to rent for your child's birthday party.

                                  1. re: Jordan

                                    I completely agree that it's the perfect place for a kids party. Whenever I drive by I scan my brain for some event that I could host there because it's so darn cute. Honestly though, I wasn't that impressed with the custard. I still can't quite taste the difference between custard and ice cream and husband, who's from St. Louis and therefore an expert ;) says that it's just that I've never had a really good custard.

                                    We're a short walk from Pumphouse Creamery so that's our favorite spot. Husband loves the sorbets - they do have the most striking fruit flavor of any I've ever had.

                                    Sometimes though I would just love a really excellent, traditional, chocolate chip mint and Pumphouse's is a little too gourmet. Any suggestions?

                                    1. re: katebauer

                                      Perhaps Grand Ole Creamery? I think they do good quality with more traditional flavors.

                                      With Liberty, I think you really have to go for the sundaes, where you can enjoy the gourmet touches. Try the chocolate custard with caramel sauce and roasted cashews.

                                      1. re: Jordan

                                        Oh, Grand Ole Creamery is a great suggestion - and I saw they're opening one at Cedar and Minnehaha Pkwy where the DQ used to be!

                                        1. re: katebauer

                                          We drove by that DQ yesterday, and there's a sign up saying that it's becoming a Caribou.

                                          1. re: Jordan

                                            Weird, I saw a Grand Ole Creamery sign up there about 2 weeks ago. Maybe it will be both? Or Caribou will sell ice cream?

                                            1. re: katebauer

                                              According to GOC's website, they have a new location "coming soon" at 474 Cedar Avenue, so, you must have seen something katebauer! http://www.grandolecreamery.com/conta...


                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                474 Cedar Avenue? I know the defunct DQ they mean, but that street number has to be missing a digit. Nokomis is closer to the 4900 block of Cedar Ave S., isn't it?

                                                So far in our game of musical chairs:
                                                * The long-closed Burger King on Ford Parkway, across from the library, is becoming a DQ.
                                                * The not-so-recently-closed DQ on Cedar Ave S & Minnehaha Parkway is becoming a GOC.
                                                * A presumably-closed DQ in that location or perhaps someplace else is becoming a Caribou.
                                                * In nearby neighborhoods, these DQs are still cranking out chocolate malts at 649 calories for a small, 880 for a medium (oh how I wish I never ever knew that...)
                                                -- Lake St. and 44th Ave S., Mpls
                                                -- 38th St and 14th Ave S., Mpls
                                                -- 46th St. and Hiawatha Ave S., Mpls
                                                -- Snelling and Hague, St. Paul

                                                1. re: KTFoley

                                                  Yeah, I wish that old Burger King were turning into a GOC instead of a DQ.

                                                  I'm afraid I don't know where 494 Cedar would be--I'm trying to visualize this place, but can't--I can only imagine the DQ across'ish from Sea Salt Eatery, which I think is NOT the one everyone is talking about.

                                                  Chris Mitra says the DQ about to become a GOC is "dangerously close to Pumphouse." Is that the same one everyone is thinking of? I can't imagine there is more than one DQ about to become a GOC.



                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    474 Cedar would be in Cedar-Riverside, yet the GOC website says it's their "Nokomis location."

                                                    4740, on the other hand, would be roughly the address across the street from Carbone's, which is roughly where the closed DQ is.

                                                    According to the city property finder, 4740 is actually the SuperAmerica across the street from the DQ. 4745 might be the address they are thinking of. Perhaps it will be a combo GOC/Caribou.

                                            2. re: Jordan

                                              Mystery solved. 4745 Cedar is an old auto repair shop. 4737 (a much narrower lot) was the DQ. 4737 was issued a business license in April for Grand Ole Creamery.

                                              My new hypothesis is that Caribou will be renovating the garage into a new coffee shop.

                                              1. re: Jordan

                                                Glad that's solved! It's essentially Cedar and Minnehaha Parkway. I wouldn't say dangerously close to Pumphouse - it's about 1.5 miles.

                                                1. re: Jordan

                                                  I'm a little late on this, but yes - the Caribou is going on the corner, and Grand Ole Creamery is just north, in the narrower lot. I drive by it every day on the way to work. GOC isn't open for business yet, but it looks like they are getting close.

                                                  1. re: egusto

                                                    Went to the GOC on Cedar, which is within walking distance of my house. The ice cream contained ice crystals! I waited a month and tried them again. Same deal.

                                                    Now I drive down to the DQ on Portland and 60th!

                                          2. re: katebauer

                                            I love Pumphouse, and we also go there all the time since we too are close, but I have always felt that Crema's sorbets stand out as the best in the area. What sorbet flavors do you think are particularly good at Pumphouse?

                                            On the topic of chocolate chip mint: I also am continuously on the hunt for an excellent traditional CCM, but so far can't find the right combination. My gold standard is Welsh Farms (pre-Parmalat acquisition), which you may or may not have tried in other locations (not available here).

                                            I did find one really good chocolate chip mint in the area, but it was not completely "traditional" -- it used spearmint as its base, instead of peppermint. Oh, and it was pale blue instead of pale green (or white, if you prefer). It was actually from the U of MN St. Paul campus -- one of the departments (I assume related to dairy?) makes and sells their own ice creams in the summer, I think one day per week. Not sure what building they sell it from, but if you ask around I'm sure someone on campus will know.

                                            As far as retail shops, I agree with Jordan that Grand Ole Creamery's CCM is probably the closest. In general, they *do* do a good job with the traditional flavors. I know for a fact that I did not like Edina Creamery's take on CCM -- too sweet.

                                            But anyway, having failed to find the perfect traditional combo, I've actually been making my own. I still have yet to find a source for the perfect texture/size chocolate for this (I usually chop my own from a bar) -- but I think the mint base is spot on. If you're interested, email the address in my profile and I can send you the recipe.

                                            I agree with you on Liberty's frozen custard -- I'm not sure I see the appeal, from a purely chowish point of view.

                                            [Edit: I should mention that I think the U of MN's flavors vary every week, without any advanced warning. I think they only do two different flavors per week; and this week's CCM might be different from last week's. It was two summers ago when I had their blue version. So, yeah, this one might be kind of hard to come by.]

                                            1. re: Chris Mitra

                                              Ah yes, the "secret" dairy shop on the St. Paul campus. I'm a grad student and our department has an ice cream fundraiser every year with ice cream from there. I'll have to try to make it out one day - or maybe they sell the chocolate chip mint at the fair (don't they have a stand near the dairy barn?)?

                                              One more note about Pumphouse ice cream - last summer I got a flavor (vanilla base, some chocolate in it, can' t remember the specifics) that tasted greasy. It was really strange, my husband agreed. I threw it out which is unheard of! That's made me a little wary of their ice creams.

                                              My husband knows his favorite Pumphouse sorbets more but I remember the grapefruit being wonderful. He also likes the ones at Sonny's, which are a bit more unusual if I remember correctly, but that's not in walking distance so we don't have the excuse that we're burning calories to get there :)

                                              1. re: katebauer

                                                I've heard about the ice cream (and cheese) from that shop, but never have figured out where it is. (I think it is all student projects that are then put on sale?)

                                                I googled it, and found this: http://fscn.cfans.umn.edu/services/da...

                                                Does anyone else have any experience with their stuff?

                                                1. re: Danny

                                                  I've had the Apple Pie Crunch ice cream from them and it is phenomenal - just like an apple pie with ice cream on top.

                                                  There's also the UMN meat store! http://www.ansci.umn.edu/meatlab/meat...

                                                  1. re: katebauer

                                                    WOW.... Both the dariy and the meat are two cool links to have. I had no idea. Not to get to far of topic, but has anyone picked up anything else there? The cheese or maybe a steak?

                                                    Thanks again for these links...

                                                    Uncle Ira

                                                2. re: katebauer

                                                  I wonder if you had the cookies-and-cream flavor at Pumphouse -- I love it, but I've sometimes noticed it leaves sort of a film in my mouth; I think it's the filling of the Newman-O's that does it. Still delicious tho.

                                                  I love Pumphouse. I do wish they would put some plainer flavors out in retail locations -- Linden Hills Coop has a few prepackaged pints of theirs, but it's kulfi, mango, brownie-with-cherries, and mocha... when what I really want is a simple vanilla, chocolate, and a smooth coffee ice cream without little bits of coffee bean. I'd rather buy local/organic, but for coffee ice cream I keep going back to Haagen-Dazs, which is perfect in my book.

                                                  1. re: fendel

                                                    That was it, the cookies and cream! Thanks, I would have never remembered on my own.

                                                    1. re: fendel

                                                      Fendel, have you tried Crema's signature ("crema") flavor?

                                                      1. re: fendel

                                                        OK I have to jump in here after almost 2 years of this thread. Something
                                                        is wrong with Pumphouse's ice cream, didn't use to be. I recently bought 2 pints from the Wedge and both left a very greasy waxy feeling in my mouth. I never have experienced that before. I know Pumphouse doesn't use the same cream/milk they started with. Does anyone know more about this? And they were different flavors, mocha and the coconut almond one.

                                            2. re: Chris Mitra

                                              And, of course, Sebastian Joe's has had Pavarotti for years and years.

                                              1. re: Jordan

                                                Oh, is THAT what Pavarotti is?? I never knew!

                                        2. I adore Crema, Izzy's and Pumphouse, in that order. I am not a fan of Sebastian Joe's.

                                          Favorite flavor: Izzy's peanut butter. Best. Thing. Ever.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Cassandra

                                            The ice cream is nothing special - just your basic soft-serve, but the Dari-Ette in east St. Paul is great for a visit. It's an 1950's drive-in that's worth a visit. They're famous for their italian sausage and meatball sandwiches.

                                          2. Brewberry's coffee shop on the corner of Fairview and Randolph in St. Paul also serves up some mighty tasty ice cream. It's probably not worth a drive across the metro, but if you live in the area and would like to break up the Grand Ole Creamery - Izzy's routine, it's worth a stop. The ice cream is from a place called Chocolate Shoppe in Madison (http://www.chocolateshoppeicecream.co...) . The coffee shop is a great, kid-friendly spot with cheery employees.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: Lionel Hutz

                                              We stopped at Brewberry's a couple of weeks ago (we had the "Fat Elvis" peanut butter+ banana flavor" as part of our "Let's pretend we're in Vegas" weekend.) http://www.chow.com/topics/414036?que... You're right, the ice cream is nowhere near as good as Izzy's or Grand Ole Creamery's, but the wait was short and if you're in the neighborhood it's not a terrible choice. The waffle cones, though, were dreadful: soggy and stale. I don't think they have a way to store them properly in the heat. Plus, no malt ball at the end. You're better off getting a sugar cone (inoffensive) or just having your ice cream in a cup.

                                              I tried the soy mint chip "ice cream" --it was super heavy on the mint, but surprisingly refreshing and creamy--it really hit the spot on a super hot day.

                                              Brewberry's is also pet friendly, if you wanted to sit outside with your pup.


                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                Liberty Custard is also Pet Friendly - they even sell Frosty Paws so your pooch can chow down with you.

                                                Oh, and here's some places:

                                                Grand Ole Creamery
                                                750 Grand Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

                                                Crema Cafe
                                                3403 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                                                Pumphouse Creamery
                                                4754 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                                                Izzy's Ice Cream Production - DUPLICATE
                                                2034 Marshall Ave, St Paul, MN 55104

                                                Liberty Frozen Custard
                                                5401 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55419

                                                Adele's Frozen Custard
                                                800 Excelsior Blvd, Excelsior, MN 55331

                                                Brewberry's-The Coffee Place
                                                475 Fairview Ave S, St Paul, MN 55105

                                                1. re: Danny

                                                  Forgot a couple of Places (do we need places for the "only open 2 hours a week" meat and cheese shops too?

                                                  Connys Creamy Cone
                                                  1197 Dale St N, Saint Paul, MN 55117

                                                  Dairy-Ette Drive In [SEE DARI-ETTE DRIVE IN]
                                                  1440 Minnehaha Ave E, Saint Paul, MN 55106

                                                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  I have only been to Izzy's once, and I really enjoyed it. I heard about it when I was watching Bobby Flay's throwdown and saw that he was challenging the owner of Izzy's. I loved the coconut and soy peanut butter flavors, and the whole concept of the izzy is just great! I got to try so many different flavors because my little brother and sister kept asking for more.

                                                  If you want to try some good gelato for a reasonable price, I suggest going to a recently opened cafe and creamery in Eagan called Ring Mountain. Its got a very large variety of ice creams, sorbets and gelatos.

                                                  1. re: David_Minh

                                                    David, I seem to remember driving past Ring Mountain at some point but I can't quite put my finger on it. Where is that? I live in Burnsville and work in Eagan.

                                                    1. re: MSPD

                                                      It is right across from the cub foods in Eagan right next to a pond. Ring Mountain is the first store to open in a new miniature sized strip mall.

                                                      But for specifics, here is the websites map.


                                                      1. re: David_Minh

                                                        Yes...that's it! We were coming out of the Cub store. Thank you for refreshing my memory...I'll be sure to check it out and report.

                                              2. Let's just all remember, however, that Ted Drewes in St. Louis (on Rt. 66) is the best frozen custard.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: MSPD


                                                  I went to Izzy's - inspired by Rick Nelson's column, and all the talk online. I haven't been there in a while. I was really bummed that their selection today was somewhat boring. No marshmellow, no salted caramel, no peanut butter, no chocolate zin.

                                                  I did enjoy a scoop of cherries jubilee and a scoop of chocolate, though.

                                                  What's with the hating on Sebastian Joe's? The ice cream is great there. I can't see someone disliking it. Plus, they consistently have exotic flavors. :)

                                                  Seriously, though - why do some dislike? I can't see the problem with it, in a literal sense.

                                                  1. re: pgokey

                                                    Adding the other two Izzy's Places links. (There are 3 - and each seems to come up with different variations of searching. (All around St. Paul/St Paul/Saint Paul)

                                                    Izzy's Ice Cream Cafe
                                                    2034 Marshall Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55104

                                                    1. re: pgokey

                                                      I agree with you on Sebastian Joe's. In the past week, I had some banana coconut from Joe's at Sea Salt, then some malt vanilla chocolate from Pump House.

                                                      Joe's was good straightahead ice cream, a decent mix of flavors, good mouth feel, strong but not overpowering flavor, just the right sweet, and no icky smell of adjunct thickeners like at Baskin-Robins or Ben & Jerry's or any of the other big chains.

                                                      As for Pump House - either it was an off night, or I picked the wrong flavor, or something, but Pump House has to be some of the worst ice cream I've had since New Jersey, where the butterfat content laws are very lax. My chowspouse threw her chocolate cocoa bean out after a few bites. The flavor was good, and the level of sweetness was just right, but the texture distressingly thin and grainy, like old-fashioned ice milk. If I lived near it, I might try it again, but coming from downtown it's not worth the drive. I would rather go back to Sebastian Joe's.

                                                      I need to try Crema and Liberty soon.

                                                      1. re: pgokey

                                                        Joe's has been resting on its laurels for too long, if you ask me. I think it was innovative 15 years ago, but think you will almost always have a better ice cream experience at either Crema or Izzy's. I also think that they have pulled back from the "exotic" flavors -- the most exotic one these days seems to be Pavarotti.

                                                        1. re: stpaulbreadman

                                                          seriously? maybe i've been lucky but the last two times i stopped at sebastian joe's they were featuring some pretty crazy (and crazy delicious) sorbets: roasted plum and black pepper, and lime with thai basil. of course, i couldn't enjoy more than a taste of either of those because pavarotti is so damn good, and the last visit i made they had their version of B&J's chubby hubby (chocolate covered, pb filled pretzel balls) which may top GOC's black hills gold as my favorite twin cities ice cream (despite my appreciation of the weird and tasty sorbets, im realy not a fruity ice cream/sorbet guy).

                                                          as for pumphouse, i admire the creativity and the local/organic sourcing, but ill agree with others that there is a notable lack of intensity in some of their flavors, but i really like the five scoop sampler if you have a crowd (ok, or if there are two of you, or if your really into ice cream)

                                                          crema is tasty, but are they seriously charging 10 dollars for hand packed pints? even my favorite, ridiculously spendy gelato place in north beach (SF) would have to put on ski masks to charge that much.

                                                          the bottom line for me is that, as a temporary (summer) resident of the cities, i appreciate immensely the combined effect of our dairy heritage and summer heat: there is a lot of really good ice cream around here, freakishly so, one might say (i believe i just did).

                                                      2. I have not met a custard flavor that I don't like at Adele's in Excelsior, MN but my culinary heart belongs to the Chocolate Raspberry truffle flavor offered every other Sunday. My husband would echo that sentiment. The atmosphere is also a great reason to visit. The quaint building near Lake Minnetonka draws people from all over, by the numbers of visitors even on a rainy day it appears they have a cult following. While the inside is small, the outdoor seating area is a great place to sit and enjoy your custard treat. Even when there are large numbers of people there it never seems too loud or overwhelming, probably because everyone is too busy eating their custard to do much conversing! There is a drive through is well.

                                                        1. We have tried Izzy's and Sebastian Joe's. Both were very mediocre at best. The flavors were for the most part flavorless, and both were way overpriced for the mediocre product they served. There was no cream taste at all with any of the flavors that we tried at each. The texture at each was not very good either. Bluebell ice cream at the grocery store is many times better than what is served at these two places.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: MIKELOCK34

                                                            I'm craving blueberry ice cream with real blueberries in it - any sightings of the like at any of these places lately?