Where to go for special treats this summer

CHICAGO – There’s no shortage of ice cream options in the entire city of Chicago, so how do you choose where to indulge? One way to narrow it down is to seek out some of the more unique cream creations.

WGN has compiled a dozen of these shops through the collective effort of reader suggestions, digital team experiments, and old-school research. We’ve organized them into four categories of uniqueness: presentation, combination, ingredients, and flavor(s).

Use the following to choose your experience for the day, or perhaps plan a full ice cream exploration.

Single presentation

Eli’s Ark

This Wicker Park ice cream shop opened in the summer of 2018 and is known for making cute cones.

Eli’s Ark’s cool creatures can help you beat the heat and are a hit with kids and adults alike.

Address: 1843 W. North Avenue, Chicago
Hours (varies throughout the year): Tue-Fri 3pm-8pm | Sat 1pm-9pm | Sun 1pm-8pm
Website: Eli’s Ark Chicago is on Instagram

JoJo’s ShakeBar

Be prepared when ordering a Biggie Shake at JoJo’s ShakeBAR. These extravagant creations are more than just a mix of milk and ice cream in a cup. Between the candy-crusted rim, full-sized cookie, whipped cream, and extra toppings, this cup can be a complete meal.

For those in an alcoholic mood, the restaurant offers an alcoholic option for their creamy creations. They also have decorated ice cream bars for easier grabbing.

Address: Locations in River North, Water Tower Place, Time Out Market and Naperville
Hours: Varies by location. Links to each above.
Website: JoJo’s ShakeBar

to like

Find real European ice cream in downtown Chicago at Amorino. The company’s first store opened in 2002 in the heart of Paris and opened its Chicago location in April 2015.

Each cone comes in the shape of a gelato rose, and customers can choose a different flavor for each icy petal.

Address: 38 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
Hours: Sun-Thu 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. | Fri-Sat 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Website: Chicago location

Single combination

Churros Lounge

Take a traditional homemade churro, turn it well, fry two, mash ice cream in between, top with a variety of candies and sauces, and you have a Churro-Wich.

Churro Parlor offers three pre-made “wiches” to delight your taste buds.

Address: Chicago locations: 1604 W. Roscoe St. 9707 N. Milwaukee Ave. (also located in Glenview)
Hours: Tue-Thu 4pm-10pm | Fri-Sat 12pm-10pm | Sun 12pm-9pm
Website: Churros Lounge

Artisan donuts

Firecakes is known for its, you guessed it, donuts, but did you know they also have “homemade ice cream?” They create a combination for a summer donut delight.

They offer a “build your own” donut ice cream sandwich. Select your donut, then your ice cream, choose a sauce and add some toppings. Yum.

Address: Four locations in Chicago, one in Oak Park, one in Naperville – Full list here.
Hours: Varies by location – see link above.
Website: Artisan donuts

Margie’s Candy

This unique combination is coupled with a story of quantity. Gather all your extended family, cousins ​​and all, and order the Royal George at Margie’s Candies. mix and match 25 scoops of ice cream, top with whipped cream, various syrups, nuts, cherries and a few sugar cones for good measure.

As you fill your stomach, learn about the history of Margie’s, which has been in business since 1921 and remains a family business (now in its fourth generation).

Address: 1813 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago -or- 1960 N. Western Ave., Chicago
Hours: Montrose, Sun-Sat 10am-10pm — Western, Mon-Thu 10am-11pm | Fri-Sun 10 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.

Unique ingredients

Vaca’s Vegan Creamery

You don’t need cow’s cream to make a delicious frozen treat and Vaca’s Vegan Creamery is ready to prove it to you. The owners opened their first store in Chicago in May 2021 and have since opened a second location. In addition to their vegan menu, Vaca’s is also committed to socially responsible sourcing for its ingredients.

Speaking of which, you wonder how they do without cow’s milk? The answer: mostly oat milk, but some flavors use soy milk.

Address: 2324 W. Giddings St., Chicago -or- 1436 W. Blackhawk St., Chicago
Hours (may be extended in summer): Giddings, Mon-Wed 3pm-9.30pm — Thu-Sun 10.30am-9.30pm | Blackhawk, Wed-Sun 3pm-9pm
Website: Vaca’s Vegan Creamery

Eiffel waffle

Two words: bubble – waffle. A little air makes a surprisingly big difference in how one experiences frozen treats at Eiffle Waffle. Hot and crispy outside with a soft and chewy inside, then top with a full ice cream sundae. Divine.

Learn how the unique ‘cone’ is made on WGN Morning News’ 2022 Around Town tour.

Address: Three locations in Chicago, one in Bolingbrook, one in Downers Grove – Full list here
Hours: Varies by location.
Website: Eiffel waffle on Facebook

milk and wood

Design and build your own ice cream bar to enjoy with a side of…crab? Milk and Wood may be spent on dressing desserts, but they can be found inside the Viet-Cajun seafood house The Crab Pad.

“Exotic flavors and quirky toppings” rotate regularly for those who like to experiment with their creamy combinations.

Address: 2529 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
Hours: Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri 5pm-10pm | Sat 3pm-10pm | Sun 3pm-9pm (closed Wednesday)
Website: Milk and Wood

Unique flavor(s)


Asian inspiration best describes some of the flavors available at Kurimu. Flavors such as purple yam, lychee pearl, Thai iced tea, sweet corn, avocado, durian, black sesame and pandan appeal to those looking for something different in their ice cream.

Served in a colorful cone with one or two additional toppings, the options span the spectrum of sweetness to please the most discerning palettes.

Address: Two locations in Chicago, one in Schaumburg – Full list here.
Hours: Varies by location, see link above.
Website: Kurimu

rainbow cone

No list of unique Chicago frozen treats would be complete without The Original Rainbow Cone. Historically a South Sider treat, a recent partnership with Buona is bringing this five-slice ice cream flavor experience to new customers across Chicago and the country.

New to the Rainbow? From top to bottom it’s: orange sorbet, pistachio, homemade palmer (vanilla with cherries and walnuts), strawberry and chocolate.

Address: Over a Dozen Locations and Growing | Original at 9233 S. Western Ave. Chicago
Hours: Varies by location.
Website: rainbow cone

Caption Tasty House

Legend Tasty House’s ice cream not only has unique options, but it’s also made in true Thai style. Choose from flavors such as passion fruit, green tea, taro, and dragon fruit, then watch it brew in front of you.

The cream base is mixed, poured onto a sub-freezing surface, then rolled by hand into cylindrical ice cream segments. Customers can stop there or turn the stack into a sundae complete with toppings such as pocky sticks, s’more marshmallows and mochi.

Address: 2242 S. Wentworth Ave, Chicago
Hours: Sun-Thu 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. | Fri-Sat 11 a.m. – 11:45 p.m.
Website: Caption Tasty House

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