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Jun 16, 2009 10:02 AM

Ice cream in Duluth (MN)

I just saw a mention of the Portland Malt Shoppe in this month's Budget Travel magazine, and it got me thinking - where should I go for the best ice cream in Duluth?

The Portland Malt Shoppe looks adorable, and it's got a great location - but how's the ice cream? And those eponymous malts? Of course, ya gotta factor in the scientific fact that anything tastes good when you can look at Lake Superior while you eat it.

Anywhere else I should go for good ice cream? I'll be up there in August (for the train convention!), and will be looking for some good icy treats.


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  1. I'm trying my best to think of any ice cream shop in Duluth, but Portland is the only one coming to mind. You'd think after 5 years of college there, I would have found at least one other place worth mentioning. There has to be something up the shore on 61.

    I'll try to think of one before August.

    1. Not in Duluth, but in Cloquet en route to Duluth, I like the banana shakes at Gordy's Hi-Hat. There is a decent ice cream parlor that is somehow related to Gordy's in the building next door, but I like the banana shakes.

      Um, train convention?


      1. Alas, we won't have a car when we're there, so no jaunts to Cloquet for ice cream. At least not this time.

        But that's the price ya pay when you take a train to Duluth. I'll say that again - A TRAIN TO DULUTH! It's a special for the "Steam on the Range" NRHS convention. (Google this for info.) Hubby is train-mad, and I'm travel-mad (and ice-cream-mad), so we're both looking forward to August. Oh, and we're taking a steam-train excursion to Grand Rapids, MN, where I hope to have time for some ice cream or pie before we head back to Duluth.

        Luckily, our hotel in Duluth is within walking distance to the Portland - and I'll *need* to walk if I have a malt every day!


        1. I made it to the Portland Malt Shoppe on a super-hot evening last week. (A high of 88 degrees?!?!?!?!? Duluth NEVER gets that hot!)

          These are really good malts. My mint-chocolate-chip malt was FABULOUS. Mr. Tastebud's strawberry sundae with black raspberry topping was really good, too. And I don't think it was just the location's charm, the sunset, and the hot weather - this place is really good. In fact, I'd say it's a must when visiting Duluth. But expect a line, as it's really popular and those malt machines are slow.

          To deserve all that dairy goodness, we walked there (from At Sarah's Table/Chester Creek Cafe, via the rose garden and lake walk), then down to the lift bridge afterwards. But the malts are huge, so we probably needed to walk to Two Harbors...

          We also meant to try the gelato at Va Bene, but never got there. We had some really good gelato in Grand Rapids (MN) at the Brewed Awakenings coffee shop - I recommend it if you're in the area.


          1. We were just in Duluth a few weeks ago. I finally was able to get a malt at the Portland Malt shoppe. I'd been eying it through the years but it never worked out. My whole family of 5 did not like them. Way too sugary! Even my 14 year old son who eats almost anything couldn't finish it because he hated the taste.

            3 Replies
            1. re: duluth21

              What malt flavor(s) did you try? Me, I had a chocolate malt made with mint chocolate-chip ice cream, but I had them leave off the whipped cream. Perhaps that was the key. Or maybe I was so hot that the sweetness tasted good for a change. Normally, I don't like super-sweet ice cream either.


              1. re: AnneInMpls

                I think it was just chocolate, other flavors the family had were vanilla, berry something, caramel or butterscotch. I was just bummed because I've passed it so many times and I finally got to have one... but sweetness is a matter of taste. The people working there were very nice and the setting is so gorgeous.

                1. re: duluth21

                  I went to Portland Malt Shoppe earlier this week as well after a hiatus of almost 2 decades. I split a malt (caramel with dark chocolate ice cream) with my better half. Unfortunately, sweetness was the predominant flavor - no real chocolate taste came through. Perhaps that's our fault for choosing caramel, but I was expecting a little more flavor in a $6 malt.

                  I remember it being a lot better the last time I went (1992?). Maybe my tastebuds have changed.