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A layered ice cream cone with different flavors and colors.
A Rainbow Cone is made of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (vanilla, cherry, walnuts), pistachio, and orange sherbet.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

The 20 Essential Ice Cream Shops in Chicago

Cool down with a sweet, creamy treat

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A Rainbow Cone is made of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (vanilla, cherry, walnuts), pistachio, and orange sherbet.
| Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Almost everyone likes ice cream. If that weren't the case, why does dairy-free ice cream exist? From old-fashioned ice cream and soft serve to custard and gelato and Thai rolled ice cream, there’s a wide variety of rich and indulgent options to try. These 20 spots provide the best scoops and cones around Chicago, no matter the season. New cool entries on the 2022 map are CTA-themed Sundae Stop (complete with replica train) near the Belmont Red Line station; Eli’s Ark in Wicker Park, which serves its scoops of gelato decorated to look like adorable animals; and newish dessert destination Banana Cream Ice Cream in Edgewater.

For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Banana Cream Ice Cream

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Edgewater’s newish dessert destination Banana Cream Ice Cream launched in late 2021 with a plethora of sugary treats. Stop in the lime green-painted space for indulgent milkshakes, banana splits, doughnut ice cream sandwiches, hot cinnamon waffle rolls, and more.

Lickity Split

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Decadent, rich custard powers Lickity Split’s sundaes and concretes, and the signature banana splits are sure to brighten anyone’s day. The shop has an additional outpost in West Ridge; in addition to custard, both sell a selection of unusual candy and other sugary treats.

Sundae Stop

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This Chicago Transit Authority-system themed scoop shop offers something for everyone, from dairy and vegan ice cream to specialty waffle cones (plain and ube) to crepes, sundaes, and banana splits. There’s also a shimmery replica CTA train for an extra serving of fun.

Scooter's Frozen Custard

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Considered by many to be Chicago's finest custard, Scooter's brings the favorite dessert of America's Dairyland, aka Wisconsin, down south. Rotating flavors are made daily, and folks can customize their concretes and sundaes with an assortment of mix-ins.

Taiyaki Chicago

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This Lincoln Park establishment is one of the few places in Chicago that serve this unique Japanese dessert that’s shaped like a fish. Customers start by choosing a filling (red bean, Nutella, or peanut butter) for their taiyaki cakes. Soft serve ice cream and toppings are then added in to complete the hot-and-cold, Instagram-friendly delights.

Pretty Cool Ice Cream

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Dana Salls Cree, the former pastry chef of the Publican, joined forces with Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits owner Michael Ciapciak to open this charming Logan Square shop in 2018.

Instead of cones, Pretty Cool’s lineup consists mainly of ice cream bars on sticks. Items range from custard bars and vegan ice pops to icicle pie pops dipped in graham cracker shells. A second location is expected to open in Lincoln Park this summer.

Margie's Candies

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Bust out the letterman jackets because Margie's is straight out of the 1950s. Have a malt or turtle sundae and pretend to be Richie Cunningham waiting for the Fonz. Happy Days, indeed. For the daring, there’s a massive sundae featuring 15 scoops of ice cream, sauces, and toppings. A second Margie’s outpost is located near the CTA Montrose Brown Line station in Ravenswood.

The Freeze

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Take a trip back in time at this vintage ice cream stand. The Freeze, formerly known as Tastee-Freez, has been dishing out nostalgic desserts since the ‘50s. Snag dipped soft serve cones, sundaes, malts, milkshakes, and more from the walk-up window.

Eli’s Ark

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There are plenty of fun, colorful ice creams found around Chicago, but the menu items at Eli’s Ark are arguably the cutest of the bunch. A mom-and-pop gelato shop that opened in 2018, Eli’s squee-worthy scoops are shaped like animals — think, pigs with pink marshmallow snouts and pandas with miniature Oreo ears.

Vaca’s Creamery

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Chicago’s first all-vegan ice cream parlor arrived in 2021 in West Town. Vaca’s Creamery features soft serve, sundaes, and milkshakes made without dairy. Guests can top their orders with extras like confetti cookie dough, Mexican cinnamon cookie crumble, and toasted marshmallows. Egg-free waffle cones are also available.

Black Dog Gelato

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Black Dog puts gourmet touches on a childhood treat. How else would one explain a Turkish coffee float or a strawberry lemonade gelato pie? There are locations in Ukrainian Village, the West Loop, and Logan Square.

BomboBar

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Instagram-famous dessert spot BomboBar, the walk-up window in the West Loop outside Bar Siena, has revamped its facade and menu, but still features a dozen varieties of gelato and gelato shakes alongside bomboloni — traditional hole-less Italian doughnuts — in six flavors including peanut butter and jelly, cookies and cream, and lemon pistachio. In an Earth-friendly move, the team has ditched the plastic mini squeeze bottles of filling that used come with the bomboloni, and cut back on the over-the-top decorations and garnishes.

Cone Gourmet Ice Cream

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There's an obsession in preserving childhood for adults, and Cone does this with Irish-inspired creations. The “Banshee” sundae features ice cream covered in Lucky Charms. It’s magically delicious.

Get ready for cones in surprising colors, edible gold or silver leaves, boba ice cream bars, melon pan buns stuffed with ice cream, and soft serve flavors like taro at Japanese-style spot Kurimu in Little Italy. There’s a second location open in Wicker Park, and a suburban outpost coming in June to Schaumburg.

A hand holds up a red cone with a swirl of pink soft serve inside.
In 2022, Kurimu is leaning into pop-up collaborations with pop-culture icons like Care Bears.
Kim Kovacik/Eater Chicago

La Michoacana Premium

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For a seemingly endless array of options, Pilsen’s Mexican creamery can’t be beat. Ice creams run the gamut from cucumber to Mexican Twinkie while the vibrant paleta selection is even more eclectic, boasting dozens and dozens of flavors. It can be an overwhelming experience but don’t fret; just jump right in and then come back (again and again) to try more things.

Legend Tasty House

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This Chinatown spot was among the first in Chicago to offer Thai ice cream. Workers roll the ice cream by hand in front of customers and finish it off with mix-ins such as fresh fruits, Oreos, and chocolate chip cookies.

Scoops Ice Cream

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Waffles are ice cream's best friend, and Scoops knows this. Its waffle cones and bowls are made in house and come in a number of different flavors. The candy toppings are top-notch as well.

Shawn Michelle's

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Taste a variety of homemade flavors at this shop in Bronzeville’s historic Rosenwald Courts Apartments. Inspired by his memories as a kid, owner Yahya Muhammad has been perfecting recipes since college and moved his business back to the South Side after previously scooping cones in Lakeview. The inventive selection includes Muhammad’s signature honey cinnamon graham cracker, Jamaican rum raisin, and butter cookie, as well as a vegan menu. The ice creams can be enjoyed with freshly baked cobblers too. There’s a second outpost inside Time Out Market Chicago in Fulton Market.

Original Rainbow Cone

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Rainbow Cone fans will come find anyone who says anything negative about their favorite iconic treat. For more than nine decades, the South Side institution has been stacking up colorful slices of orange sherbet, chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (vanilla with walnuts and cherries), and pistachio ice creams. It’s a must-try for locals and visitors alike. Additional outposts can be found at Navy Pier, Lombard, Darien, and, in a truly historic recent move, Skokie, the first-ever Rainbow Cone location north of downtown.

An ice cream cone composed of five layered flavors.
Rainbow Cone is a summer staple in Chicago.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Richard's Super Premium Ice Cream

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Located in Pullman, Richard’s produces quality flavors by the pint. Enjoy intriguing options like banana pudding, peach cobbler, pineapple vodka, sweet potato pie, Key lime pie, and more. The ice creams are also available in sundaes.

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Banana Cream Ice Cream

Edgewater’s newish dessert destination Banana Cream Ice Cream launched in late 2021 with a plethora of sugary treats. Stop in the lime green-painted space for indulgent milkshakes, banana splits, doughnut ice cream sandwiches, hot cinnamon waffle rolls, and more.

Lickity Split

Decadent, rich custard powers Lickity Split’s sundaes and concretes, and the signature banana splits are sure to brighten anyone’s day. The shop has an additional outpost in West Ridge; in addition to custard, both sell a selection of unusual candy and other sugary treats.

Sundae Stop

This Chicago Transit Authority-system themed scoop shop offers something for everyone, from dairy and vegan ice cream to specialty waffle cones (plain and ube) to crepes, sundaes, and banana splits. There’s also a shimmery replica CTA train for an extra serving of fun.

Scooter's Frozen Custard

Considered by many to be Chicago's finest custard, Scooter's brings the favorite dessert of America's Dairyland, aka Wisconsin, down south. Rotating flavors are made daily, and folks can customize their concretes and sundaes with an assortment of mix-ins.

Taiyaki Chicago

This Lincoln Park establishment is one of the few places in Chicago that serve this unique Japanese dessert that’s shaped like a fish. Customers start by choosing a filling (red bean, Nutella, or peanut butter) for their taiyaki cakes. Soft serve ice cream and toppings are then added in to complete the hot-and-cold, Instagram-friendly delights.

Pretty Cool Ice Cream

Dana Salls Cree, the former pastry chef of the Publican, joined forces with Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits owner Michael Ciapciak to open this charming Logan Square shop in 2018.

Instead of cones, Pretty Cool’s lineup consists mainly of ice cream bars on sticks. Items range from custard bars and vegan ice pops to icicle pie pops dipped in graham cracker shells. A second location is expected to open in Lincoln Park this summer.

Margie's Candies

Bust out the letterman jackets because Margie's is straight out of the 1950s. Have a malt or turtle sundae and pretend to be Richie Cunningham waiting for the Fonz. Happy Days, indeed. For the daring, there’s a massive sundae featuring 15 scoops of ice cream, sauces, and toppings. A second Margie’s outpost is located near the CTA Montrose Brown Line station in Ravenswood.

The Freeze

Take a trip back in time at this vintage ice cream stand. The Freeze, formerly known as Tastee-Freez, has been dishing out nostalgic desserts since the ‘50s. Snag dipped soft serve cones, sundaes, malts, milkshakes, and more from the walk-up window.

Eli’s Ark

There are plenty of fun, colorful ice creams found around Chicago, but the menu items at Eli’s Ark are arguably the cutest of the bunch. A mom-and-pop gelato shop that opened in 2018, Eli’s squee-worthy scoops are shaped like animals — think, pigs with pink marshmallow snouts and pandas with miniature Oreo ears.

Vaca’s Creamery

Chicago’s first all-vegan ice cream parlor arrived in 2021 in West Town. Vaca’s Creamery features soft serve, sundaes, and milkshakes made without dairy. Guests can top their orders with extras like confetti cookie dough, Mexican cinnamon cookie crumble, and toasted marshmallows. Egg-free waffle cones are also available.

Black Dog Gelato

Black Dog puts gourmet touches on a childhood treat. How else would one explain a Turkish coffee float or a strawberry lemonade gelato pie? There are locations in Ukrainian Village, the West Loop, and Logan Square.

BomboBar

Instagram-famous dessert spot BomboBar, the walk-up window in the West Loop outside Bar Siena, has revamped its facade and menu, but still features a dozen varieties of gelato and gelato shakes alongside bomboloni — traditional hole-less Italian doughnuts — in six flavors including peanut butter and jelly, cookies and cream, and lemon pistachio. In an Earth-friendly move, the team has ditched the plastic mini squeeze bottles of filling that used come with the bomboloni, and cut back on the over-the-top decorations and garnishes.

Cone Gourmet Ice Cream

There's an obsession in preserving childhood for adults, and Cone does this with Irish-inspired creations. The “Banshee” sundae features ice cream covered in Lucky Charms. It’s magically delicious.

Kurimu

A hand holds up a red cone with a swirl of pink soft serve inside.
In 2022, Kurimu is leaning into pop-up collaborations with pop-culture icons like Care Bears.
Kim Kovacik/Eater Chicago

Get ready for cones in surprising colors, edible gold or silver leaves, boba ice cream bars, melon pan buns stuffed with ice cream, and soft serve flavors like taro at Japanese-style spot Kurimu in Little Italy. There’s a second location open in Wicker Park, and a suburban outpost coming in June to Schaumburg.

A hand holds up a red cone with a swirl of pink soft serve inside.
In 2022, Kurimu is leaning into pop-up collaborations with pop-culture icons like Care Bears.
Kim Kovacik/Eater Chicago

La Michoacana Premium

For a seemingly endless array of options, Pilsen’s Mexican creamery can’t be beat. Ice creams run the gamut from cucumber to Mexican Twinkie while the vibrant paleta selection is even more eclectic, boasting dozens and dozens of flavors. It can be an overwhelming experience but don’t fret; just jump right in and then come back (again and again) to try more things.

Related Maps

Legend Tasty House

This Chinatown spot was among the first in Chicago to offer Thai ice cream. Workers roll the ice cream by hand in front of customers and finish it off with mix-ins such as fresh fruits, Oreos, and chocolate chip cookies.

Scoops Ice Cream

Waffles are ice cream's best friend, and Scoops knows this. Its waffle cones and bowls are made in house and come in a number of different flavors. The candy toppings are top-notch as well.

Shawn Michelle's

Taste a variety of homemade flavors at this shop in Bronzeville’s historic Rosenwald Courts Apartments. Inspired by his memories as a kid, owner Yahya Muhammad has been perfecting recipes since college and moved his business back to the South Side after previously scooping cones in Lakeview. The inventive selection includes Muhammad’s signature honey cinnamon graham cracker, Jamaican rum raisin, and butter cookie, as well as a vegan menu. The ice creams can be enjoyed with freshly baked cobblers too. There’s a second outpost inside Time Out Market Chicago in Fulton Market.

Original Rainbow Cone

An ice cream cone composed of five layered flavors.
Rainbow Cone is a summer staple in Chicago.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Rainbow Cone fans will come find anyone who says anything negative about their favorite iconic treat. For more than nine decades, the South Side institution has been stacking up colorful slices of orange sherbet, chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (vanilla with walnuts and cherries), and pistachio ice creams. It’s a must-try for locals and visitors alike. Additional outposts can be found at Navy Pier, Lombard, Darien, and, in a truly historic recent move, Skokie, the first-ever Rainbow Cone location north of downtown.

An ice cream cone composed of five layered flavors.
Rainbow Cone is a summer staple in Chicago.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Richard's Super Premium Ice Cream

Located in Pullman, Richard’s produces quality flavors by the pint. Enjoy intriguing options like banana pudding, peach cobbler, pineapple vodka, sweet potato pie, Key lime pie, and more. The ice creams are also available in sundaes.

Related Maps