Ice Cream Tour of Chicago Neighborhoods

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Mmmmmm....Ice cream.  Ouch, brainfreezeWith a few weeks of (potentially) warm weather, here's my favorite way to check out neighborhoods.  Locally-owned shops carry the flavor of the community.  Hanging outside you see a cross-section of the city get a cup or a cone.

A Nostalgic Evocation:
On a warm summer evening, I walk over to the Penguin - a mom and pop Argentine gelato shop on Lawrence, between a dry cleaners and a Korean restaurant.  I mean mom and pop - mom is running the register, with baby in the stroller behind the counter.  Pop is scooping; the grandfather makes deliveries. Yes, deliveries.  His popeye forearms tell a lifetime of hand-cranking tubs of chocolate, grapefruit, or sambayon (wine).  The Penguin is gone, unfortunately - but there's plenty of tasty, unique frozen spots all over town.

On the subject of tours, sign up for the South Side History Bike Tour - email to register.

The List
The parlors below are my favorites - and will take you all over town.  Warning: Space out your visits to avoid the potential for massive weight-gain and crippling brainfreeze.

  • Mario's Italian Lemonade - 1068 W. Taylor in University Village Little Italy.  That's Italian Ice for the uninitiated - not just lemon, but fresh fruit flavors like cantaloupe, watermelon.  A small pocket of Little Italy being overrun by 'University Village' by UIC. Note: Mario's is only open until Sep 15, so you gotta wait.  In the meantime check out: Freddie's on 31st St. in Bridgeport or Miko's in Logan Square.
  • Susie's Drive-In - 4126 W Montrose Ave. Albany Park- more than four dozen flavors of shakes, open late, late into the night.  If you can't find something you like here, you must be lactose intolerant.
  • Petersen's Ice Cream - 1100 Chicago Avenue, Oak Park.  The ice cream of my childhood (along with Valpo Velvet).  Artery-clogging 18% butterfat.
  • Village Creamery - 4558 Oakton St, Skokie. Filipino treasure in the near north suburbs. Purple yam, jackfruit, mangosteen, cantaloupe, and whiskey flavors. Also has location in Niles.
  • Paletas - Catch a paletero - guys with hand-pushed ice cream carts in Latino neighborhoods like Little Village, Humboldt Park, or Logan Square, or Pilsen (thanks to Mary King).  They bring the ice cream to you.  I dig arroz (kinda like horchata on a stick) or pina colada (comes with an embedded maraschino cherry); chile w/ lime is little much for me. Can't beat the price: only a buck or a buck and a quarter.



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UCBert said:

Good list. As someone who likes ice cream too much, I'd add:

Gertie's (like the UofC, a South Side institution)
7600 S. Pulaski
Gertie's is also available at Lindy's Chili
3689 S. Archer (Lindy's chili has a well-deserved reputation)

Bobtail Ice Cream (Jeff Wilcoxin and Chris Hill developed the concept at the business school)
2951 N. Broadway and two locations in Grant Park

Shelly's Freez (get a zebra cone)
5119 N. Lincoln

Dairy Star (kosher and right next to the Bunny Hutch, another retro treasure)
3472 W. Devon

Mr. R said:

In Lincoln Square (2207 W. Montrose Ave) there's a place called Sweet Treats, which serves Sherman Dairy ice cream.

For the uninitiated, Sherman Dairy has made home-style ice cream from a farm east of South Haven, Michigan for more than a half-century.

Up and down the coast, summer visitors to SW Michigan stand in lines for Sherman Dairy ice cream.

Their ice cream is not over-sugared and has a characteristic flavor.

They are known for inventing odd flavors (Blue Moon being a case in point), but they are justly famous (mostly in SW Michigan)for Mackinac Island Fudge, Cramel, and New York Cherry.

Mary said:

Great website. Please add the Pilsen neighborhood to your list of neighborhoods where you can find a paletero.
Mary King

UC said:

Mooville Dairy (routes 79 and 66 on the outskirts of Nasville, Michigan) is a bit out of the way, but it you're in the neighborhood of South Haven, Michigan, it's worth the trip.

Their milk is not homogenized (thus the name, Cream Line milk, from the cream line that real milk leaves in a glass) and the ice cream is the big beneficiary.

Erin said:

Paleteria Monarca is my favorite-- it's on Clark & Morse in Rogers Park. I've seen their paleta carts as far south as Roscoe, but if you get a chance to stop in the store, you get amazing homemade paletas for 75 cents. They've also got ice cream cones and other junk food, too. Almost all of the signage inside is in Spanish, but the staff is helpful if you can't remember that guayaba means "delicious delicious guava paleta."

Susie said:

Valpo Velvet makes an ice cream for Chicago, called Swiss Gourmet, try it, it is awesome!

Nabin said:

Ice Cream Yummy.

Great List! I am an Ice cream Lover..Thanks

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filipino said:

Weeeeeeeeeee.......Great post and soooo yummy!!!!!!
Filipino loves to eat ice cream. Always hot in the Phils. lol.

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