Cone or cup? Here, our top 11 spots for Chicago's best ice cream on a hot day.
When you're ready for something savory, check out our list of the best restaurants in Chicago you must try.
BLACK DOG GELATO
From espresso chip to sesame cookie dough and raspberry lychee (plus signature flavors like chocolate, mint cookie and goat cheese cashew caramel), these creative concoctions from pastry chef-turned-gelato-queen Jessica Oloroso have been wowing sweet tooths since 2010. 859 N. Damen Ave., 773.235.3116
A melding of two Chicago institutions (Lindy’s Chili has been a local favorite since 1924, Gertie’s Ice Cream since 1901) resulted in this head-scratcher of a combo, but the proof is in the pair’s success since joining forces in ’74—especially in the reliably delicious throwback ice cream menu, whose offerings include all the classics: banana splits, ice cream floats, sundaes, sodas, phosphates, and shakes and malts. Multiple locations
It all started with Top Chef star Fabio Viviani’s famous holeless bomboloni doughnuts, but now this West Loop concept is even more known for its over-the-top gelato creations, from fruity pebbles-covered gelato sandwiches to shakes and cones filled with flavors like coconut toffee, fudgesicle and lime daiquiri. 832 W. Randolph St., 312.492.7775
Renowned for its “concretes”—a blend of frozen custard and mix-ins so thick it can be served upside-down—this Lakeview spot is a favorite for families and also canines, who can enjoy a free cone along with their owners. 1658 W. Belmont Ave., 773.244.6415
JENI’S SPLENDID ICE CREAMS
Possibly Chicago’s most popular ice creamery, Jeni Britton Bauer’s dessert dynasty boasts scoop shops in 23 cities—including 11 locations here in the Windy City. A James Beard Award winner for the book Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, the brand scores with flavors like buttercream birthday cake, wildberry lavender and cold brew with coconut cream and also ships nationwide. Multiple locations
Beloved by generations, this ice cream shop and candy store has been drawing lines out the door since 1921 for homemade sundaes, shakes and banana splits. 1960 N. Western Ave., 773.384.1035; 1813 W. Montrose Ave., 773.348.0400
Long before the age of Instagram, this 95-year-old Chicago institution was serving up the ultimate post-worthy frozen treat, a signature five-layer towering concoction of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (that would be vanilla with cherries and walnuts), pistachio and orange sherbet. New for ’21? Four ice cream trucks that are wandering the streets of the city, ready to bring ice cream delight straight to you. Multiple locations
This nostalgic Edgewater sweet shop is a call back to the simple days of summer. Satisfy your sweet tooth with frozen custard served in an abundance of flavors and toppings, including custard floats made with retro soda. Or mix it up with their shakes, malts and famed concretes. Don't forget to check out their variety of vintage candies that can't be found in any other store. 6056 N. Broadway Ave., 773.274.0830; 7000 N. Western Ave., 773.293.7239
Founded in 2018 by acclaimed pastry chef Dana Cree, Pretty Cool has since become a Logan Square staple. Flavors such as frozen hot cocoa, peanut butter potato chip and piña colada can all be found on a stick, perfect for a summertime stroll. Their handmade ice cream bars and ice pops also come in vegan-friendly options. 2353 N. California Ave., 773.697.4140; 709 W. Belden Ave.
Born from a desire to make vegan ice cream outstanding, Vaca's Creamery uses quality ingredients that align with vegan values. With signature combination toppings such as Inner Child (confetti cookie dough, strawberry sauce, sprinkles) and Death By... (chocolate sauce, chocolate shell, brownie pieces) on top of vanilla or chocolate soft serve, you just can't go wrong. 2324 W. Giddings St.;1436 W. Blackhawk St.
Feel like you've been transported back to your childhood when you try one of these original animal gelato cones. From a polar bear to a giraffe to a pig, the types of animals that you can choose to transform your frozen treat into are nearly endless. And with signature flavors such as Mint-To-Be (Moroccan mint, Girl Scout Thin Mints, stracciatella) and Vanilla Sky (Madagascar vanilla bean, butterfly pea tea), your gelato will look good and taste good. 1843 W. North Ave.
Photography by: Lori Sapio Photography; Lindsey Simon; Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams; Rainbow Cone