Food & Drink

Scoops of Heaven: The Chicago Ice Cream Trailblazers

Chicago is a city that's known for its love of food, and one of the most popular treats in the Windy City is ice cream.

Whether you're a resident or a visitor, there's no shortage of places to indulge in a frozen dessert. From classic flavors to unique creations, there's something for everyone in Chicago's ice cream scene.

But with so many options available, how do you know where to start? That's where this guide comes in.

We've scoured the city to find the best ice cream shops that will satisfy your sweet tooth and leave you wanting more.

In this blog post, we'll be highlighting some of the top ice cream spots in Chicago. We'll be featuring a mix of long-standing favorites and new up-and-comers that are making waves in the city's food scene.

Whether you're looking for traditional flavors or something more adventurous, we've got you covered.

So get ready to grab a cone or cup and dig in.

These ice cream shops are sure to leave you feeling satisfied and ready for more.

1. Shawn Michelle's Homemade Ice Cream

Shawn Michelle's Homemade Ice Cream
46 E 47th St, Chicago, IL 60653 (Google Maps)

Shawn Michelle's Homemade Ice Cream offers an abundance of flavors that are melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

With friendly and knowledgeable staff, this ice cream shop provides excellent customer service.

The portions are generous and reasonably priced, making it a great spot for a sweet treat. The atmosphere is welcoming and comfortable, making it perfect for families and friends to enjoy.

Shawn Michelle's Homemade Ice Cream is a must-visit for anyone in search of the perfect scoop.

2. Lickity Split Frozen Custard

Lickity Split Frozen Custard
6056 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60660 (Google Maps)

Lickity Split Frozen Custard is a vintage-style parlor serving up delicious frozen custard and retro candy.

Their locally sourced pastries and coffee are also worth trying.

While the selection of flavors is limited, the custard is top-notch and the prices are reasonable.

The friendly customer service and fun atmosphere make Lickity Split a great spot for satisfying a sweet tooth.

3. Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
3404 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 (Google Maps)

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams is a chain of ice cream and frozen yogurt shops that offers unique and inventive flavors made from local ingredients.

Their staff is friendly and helpful in pairing flavors. The ice cream is smooth and not icy, but can melt quickly.

The shop can get crowded, so seating may be limited. Prices are a bit expensive, but the quality of the ice cream is worth it.

If you're looking for delicious and creative frozen treats, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams is a great choice.

4. The Original Rainbow Cone

The Original Rainbow Cone
9233 S Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60643 (Google Maps)

The Original Rainbow Cone is a long-standing ice cream destination that serves up some seriously good frozen treats.

Their signature Rainbow Cone is a must-try, with perfectly paired flavors. The staff is friendly and professional, providing fast and efficient service.

The parlor is clean and well-maintained, with plenty of outdoor seating available. They also offer ice cream cakes and unique sliced portions of ice cream and sherbet.

The only downside is that it can get a bit pricey for the amount of ice cream you get. Despite this, it's a classic stop that's definitely worth checking out if you're in the area.

5. Scooter's Frozen Custard

Scooter's Frozen Custard
1658 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 (Google Maps)

Scooter's Frozen Custard is a great spot to satisfy your frozen custard cravings. While they may not have a wide variety of flavors, the quality of their custard is top-notch.

The texture is smooth and the flavors are delicious. What they lack in flavor variety, they make up for in toppings.

They have plenty of options to satisfy just about every taste. They also offer sorbets at times in case allergies are an issue.

The staff is friendly and the service is fast. The only downside is that they are not open year-round.

6. Legend Tasty House

Legend Tasty House
2242 S Wentworth Ave, Chicago, IL 60616 (Google Maps)

Legend Tasty House is a bustling ice cream shop that specializes in hand-rolled Thai-style ice cream with a variety of toppings.

The shop offers a wide variety of flavors to choose from, and the ice cream is prepared on a frozen platter right in front of the customers.

The servings are excellent and the prices are reasonable. The employees are fast and efficient, and the service is top-notch.

The shop gets pretty packed, but the atmosphere is vibrant and colorful. The perfect place to grab a sweet treat in the heart of the city.

7. Ava's Italian Ice

Ava's Italian Ice
1814 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Google Maps)

Ava's Italian Ice is a must-visit spot for anyone who loves refreshing summer treats. The ice cream shop specializes in making Italian ice daily with fresh, organic ingredients, resulting in fantastic flavors that are never too sweet or syrupy.

Their secret to success is using a touch of cane sugar as a binding agent, allowing the natural flavors of the ingredients to shine.

Although the flavors are always rotating due to the small-batch approach, customers can be sure they'll be treated to some of the best Italian ice they've ever tasted.

With a casual take-out window, Ava's Italian Ice is the perfect spot to grab a delicious frozen treat on the go.

8. Pretty Cool Ice Cream

Pretty Cool Ice Cream
2353 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Google Maps)

Looking for a trendy ice cream shop with unique flavors to try out this summer season, Pretty Cool Ice Cream is definitely worth a visit.

With a creative variety of flavors, including plant-based options, and a friendly staff, customers can enjoy delicious ice cream bars and popsicles in a clean and inviting space.

Although prices may be a bit steep, the quality and taste make it a great treat for a special occasion or a hot summer day.

Don't miss out on the chance to try their amazing horchata popsicle or the Dreamsicle with a blood orange and sprinkle coating.


Eiffel Waffle
955 W Webster Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 (Google Maps)

EIFFEL WAFFLE is a fantastic ice cream shop that offers creative and delicious treats.

The waffle cones are crispy and delicate, and the ice cream is fresh and flavorful. The staff is friendly and attentive, providing excellent customer service.

The shop has a trendy ambiance and is a great place to hang out with family and friends. The portion sizes are generous, so sharing is recommended.

EIFFEL WAFFLE is a must-visit dessert spot for anyone looking for a fun and tasty experience.

10. Paulo Gelato & Chocolate

Paulo Gelato & Chocolate
1058 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (Google Maps)

Paulo Gelato & Chocolate is a hidden gem for ice cream lovers. The gelato is made with 100% real ingredients and has unique flavors like Porcini Mushroom and Burnt Butter Vanilla.

The vegan options are just as delicious as the regular flavors. The texture is light and fluffy, and the sweetness is perfectly balanced.

The chocolate gelato is especially noteworthy, with the best qualities of gelato and a fine chocolate mousse.

The atmosphere is pleasant and relaxing, making it a great spot to enjoy a cone or cup of gelato. Paulo Gelato & Chocolate is a must-visit for anyone looking for exceptional quality gelato.

11. Eli's Ark

Eli's Ark
1843 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Google Maps)

Eli's Ark is a cute ice cream shop with a unique concept. They offer a variety of flavors and allow customers to choose an animal to be created on their ice cream.

The gelato is creamy and not overly sweet. Vegan and gluten-free options are available.

The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the menu. The shop is COVID-safe with no indoor seating and masks required.

Prices are a bit expensive, but worth it for the experience. Eli's Ark is definitely worth a visit for a fun and delicious treat.

12. Vaca's Creamery

Vaca's Creamery
2324 W Giddings St, Chicago, IL 60625 (Google Maps)

Vaca's Creamery is a must-visit for anyone who loves ice cream. This shop has a great selection of both dairy and non-dairy options, including plenty of gluten-free choices.

What sets Vaca's apart from other ice cream shops is the quality of the flavors. Each one is well thought out and expertly crafted, making for a truly delicious treat.

The shop is fairly large and has plenty of seating, making it a great spot to hang out with friends or family. Prices are a bit higher than your average ice cream shop, but this is to ensure that the staff is paid a livable wage.

All in all, Vaca's Creamery is a fantastic spot for anyone looking for a tasty and unique ice cream experience.

13. Black Dog Gelato

Black Dog Gelato
859 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Google Maps)

Looking for unique and delicious gelato flavors in the city that change monthly to keep things fresh and exciting for your taste buds?

Look no further than Black Dog Gelato!

This artisanal gelato shop offers a rotating selection of flavors made fresh daily, with options like Goat Cheese Cashew Caramel and Mexican Hot Chocolate.

The service is prompt and friendly, and the prices are fair.

Don't miss out on this speciality ice cream shop!

14. Paleteria Arco Iris

Paleteria Arco Iris
2950 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60618 (Google Maps)

Paleteria Arco Iris is a hidden gem for ice cream lovers. This family-owned shop offers unique and delicious flavors of paletas and ice cream bars.

Their natural desserts are a must-try. The prices are low and the service is great.

The shop is clean and well-maintained. It's a perfect spot to stop by for a quick snack.

Don't miss their Chamoyada and coconut de leche pop. Paleteria Arco Iris is definitely worth a visit.

15. La Costena Ice Cream Shop & Food

La Costena Ice Cream Shop & Food
2517 W 51st St, Chicago, IL 60632 (Google Maps)

La Costena Ice Cream Shop & Food is a must-visit for ice cream lovers.

They offer a wide selection of ice cream, milkshakes, smoothies and snacks. The owners are friendly and provide great customer service.

The food is delicious and the portions are generous. The strawberry cheesecake ice cream and yogurts are highly recommended.

The atmosphere is family-friendly and welcoming. It's easy to see why this place is a favorite among locals.

16. Annette's Italian Ice

Annette's Italian Ice
2009 N Bissell St, Chicago, IL 60614 (Google Maps)

Annette's Italian Ice is a small walk-up ice cream store that serves homemade Italian ice and ice cream. They have a big selection of flavors that will make a lot of palettes happy.

The ice cream is rich and delicious, and they have 20+ flavors of ice cream, including vanilla, chocolate, and peanut butter soft serve frozen yogurt.

They also offer shakes, malts, sundaes, and more. The Dragonfruit-Pear Italian Fro-Yo and the Blackberry Lime Italian Fro-Yo are highly recommended.

The shop is cash-only, and it's open from March to mid-November. Annette's Italian Ice is perfect for those who want a quick, delicious treat on a hot day.

17. Banana Cream Ice Cream LLC

Banana Cream Ice Cream Llc
6305 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60660 (Google Maps)

Banana Cream Ice Cream LLC is a local ice cream shop that offers delicious, locally made ice cream from Capannari. They have a variety of flavors, including vegan options, and the scoops are huge.

The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming, making it a great spot to study, play board games, or enjoy a summer treat with family and friends.

The staff is friendly and provides excellent customer service, even going so far as to open a new container for a customer's request.

Though slightly on the pricey side, the high quality of the ice cream is definitely worth the indulgence. If you're a fan of chocolate chip ice cream with rich chocolate shards, this place is a must-visit.

18. Neveria El Sabor de Mexico

Neveria El Sabor De Mexico
1639 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608 (Google Maps)

Neveria El Sabor de Mexico is a must-visit ice cream shop for anyone who loves authentic Mexican flavors. They have a huge variety of refreshing paletas and aguas frescas, all made in-house at reasonable prices.

This cozy and welcoming place also serves tortas, hot dogs, nachos, and tamales, making it a great spot for a quick bite.

The staff is friendly and always ready to help you choose from their big selection of flavors.

Don't miss out on their yogurt and milkshakes, which are blended with their delicious ice cream. This small ice cream parlor is definitely worth a visit!