Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Chicago Area >
Jul 17, 2014 06:46 PM

Looking for a great ice cream place in Chicago -- not a chain.

Taking my kids downtown the weekend of the 25th. Would love to go to a great ice cream place that is not part of a chain. Any suggestions?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I do not know of any non-chain ice cream parlors downtown - there is Ghiradelli Ice Cream which is great -

    Outside of downtown there is Hartigan's in Evanston

    5 Replies
    1. re: weinstein5

      To clarify, I will have a car and have no problem with a little drive.

      1. re: AwildaTorres

        Since you will have a car - for the old school Ice Cream Parlor check out Margie's Candies - I have not been in a few years but it was like stepping into a time machine -

        In addition to Hartigan;s - - check out the Chocolate Shoppe - - it is a chain but you have to love a shop that has this for their nutrional information - "Nutritional Information:
        Don't even ask. This is the best ice cream made in Wisconsin, and it tastes so good because it has gobs of rich Wisconsin cream, tons of real ingredients for boat-loads of luscious flavors. That means it's not low-fat, low-calorie or low-anything, and that's why everyone loves it.
        You want nutrition, eat carrots."

        And for another frozen custard shop - here us Andy's in Evanston - - it too is a chain but worth the visit

        1. re: weinstein5

          Chocolate Shoppe looks awesome. The nutritional information is hilarious. We've been to Andy's in Branson, Missouri, but wasn't aware it was a chain. The kids love Andy's!

          1. re: AwildaTorres

            My favorite fkavor is Fat Elvis - Sweet banana ice cream all shook up with a salty peanut butter ripple and rich liquid chocolate chips.

    2. Scooter's is great for custard and Black Dog has great gelato, but they're not downtown, they're several blocks apart on Belmont between Asland and Damen. "Downtown" is somewhat limited for ice cream.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ferret

        Black Dog is my favorite; really incredible gelato and great flavors.

        1. re: Gonzo70

          I had a root beer float by Black Dog last night at Pitchfork Music Fest!

          1. re: Gonzo70

            When I went to their web site, all I saw was exotic flavors. Do they have more mainstream ones? Not sure what I read would appeal to a 10 year old's pallet.

          2. re: ferret

            I second Scooter's! Can't get enough.

          3. With kids, you may also want to try iCream in Wicker Park. It's part of a chain but their schtick is custom ice cream on the spot using liquid nitrogen. Might be fun for the kids.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ferret

              I really love this idea -- iCream is definitely on the list!

              1. re: AwildaTorres

                Most of the above suggestions are covered in this list from Serious Eats, and I agree they are all worthy options. While Black Dog is known for it's creative flavors such as the goat cheese cashew caramel, there are always a few conventional options. Note it is cash only, only has two benches outside, and is somewhat isolated from other things you'd probably want to see. All in all, I'd say ice cream isn't one of the things Chicago does best, and there are many more donut shops than ice cream parlors downtown. For a frozen treat that feels more Chicago, I'd recommend Italian ice (my favorite is Tom and Wendee's and it is a very kid-friendly neighborhood environment) and Mario's Italian Lemonade in Little Italy. Both are mentioned in the Time Out piece.



            2. Margie's in Bucktown or Black Dog (to die for!!) in nearby Wicker Park. Andy's frozen custard in Evanston is pretty darn good also.

              1. Rainbow Cones...94th and Western Ave

                1 Reply
                1. re: Bloozmann

                  Thank you everyone for the amazing suggestions. We are super excited to try some of these spots this weekend, but you've given us great ideas for weekends to come. Many thanks!