Who knew that the Twin Cities would become the veritable capital of ice cream? We've got more than our fair share of ice cream shops--including fresh, store-made treats in unique flavors rather than chain stores rescooping tired old flavors day in and day out. The only down side is that many ice cream shops close in the dead of winter, but fear not. Our list of 10 will give you plenty of options for this month, as well as some places to look forward to visiting in the spring.
10. Cone Brothers Ice Cream Cafe
The locally owned and operated ice cream café serves ice cream from the Chocolate Shoppe, made from creamery farms in Wisconsin and Iowa. Ice cream flavors include blueberry (or strawberry) cheesecake, Turtle (vanilla ice cream with chocolate and caramel fudge swirls and pecans), mint avalanche, peanut butter cup and more. Also available are "Dr. Smoothies" made from fresh fruit, in flavors ranging from acai to peach pear apricot to smooth line. Cone Brothers also serves hot dogs and chili dogs, so you don't have to eat your ice cream on an empty stomach.Cone Brothers closes for the winter, from mid-November through the end of March.
6633 Penn Ave S., Richfield;
612.455.0452; Cone Brothers website
Owner Eric Wold opened up the Neighborhood shop at a former Baskin-Robbins location in Edina and serves 44 flavors of ice cream (including three frozen yogurts and one fat-free, sugar-free option). Also available: clown cones, custom-made decorated ice cream cakes, coffee drinks, fruit smoothies, and pizza. Neighborhood Ice Cream Shoppe even hosts birthday parties in the back of the store. The ice cream shop serves Cedar Crest Dairy ice cream from Cedarburg, Wisconsin, from the retail location--and will sometimes even cart it to a local park to sell at kids' soccer games. Neighborhood Ice Cream Shoppe is open from April through late October.
6137 Kellogg Ave., Edina
8. Scoops Ice Cream & More
Don't want to choose between brands of ice cream? Scoops just might be what the doctor ordered. Located in Bloomington, Scoops serves ice cream and frozen yogurt from five creameries: Annie's Yogurt, Cass Clay, Cedarcrest, Edy's, Kemps, and Sebastian Joe's. In addition to its regular offerings (which include eccentric flavors such as angelica, basil, and Pavorotti [that's Sebastian Joe's caramel/banana/chocolate blend), Scoops also takes special requests. Frozen yogurt flavors alternate, but Scoops will have any two of the following: banana, caramel, raspberry pomegranate, root beer, strawberry, and yellow cake batter. Scoops is the recipient of a Reader's Choice award from MinnPost.com. They are only open for half the year (early April through early October).
7700 W. Old Shakopee Rd., Bloomington
612.849.3909; Scoops website
7. Adele's Frozen Custard
It's not exactly ice cream, and it's not exactly the Twin Cities, but Adele's frozen custard stand is too good not to include. It's been described as a melding of frozen custard (complete with egg yolks, fresh ingredients, and a smooth, velvety texture) and soft-serve ice cream (with waffle cones, generous portions, and plenty of toppings.) Adele's has over 80 flavors of frozen custard but only makes a few each day. Check out the monthly "custard calendar" to see what's available when, or place a custom order if you want a gallon or more of your favorite flavor. Adele's also serves fat-free frozen yogurt daily, in addition to a selection of deli sandwiches and hot dogs. Just make sure it's open--the frozen custard shop closes for part of the winter.
Adele's Frozen Custard, 800 Excelsior Blvd., Excelsior
952.470.0035; Adele's website
6. Edina Creamery
There's a reason Gourmet Magazine called Edina Creamery the best ice cream in America--the homemade ice cream is fresh, creamy, and sweet. There are about 50 flavors offered in the Edina parlor, including caramel cookie praline, blueberry cheesecake, amaretto chocolate cherry, cinnamon, and a new flavor for the adventurous, Durian ice cream. The Edina Creamery also offers raspberry and strawberry sorbet (and raspberry sherbert) for calorie-counting ice cream eaters, and a couple caffeinated options: Espresso Love and Toffee Coffee. Order larger quantities of your favorite flavors a week in advance--and remember, they're closed Monday through Wednesday.
Edina Creamery, 5055 France Ave. S., Minneapolis
612.920.2169; Edina Creamery website
This tiny ice cream shop on Chicago Avenue is all about natural ingredients, including organic nonhomogenized cream and milk right from Crystal Ball farm in Osceola, Wisconsin. And that's not all--the creamery makes sure fruit used in its ice cream (strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, and blueberries) is harvested during their peak time and frozen, and that its vanilla and coffee are fair trade. Plus it makes its own caramel and butterscotch sauces.
Pumphouse Creamery serves sweet and tangy flavors aplenty. There's lemon ice cream with crystallized ginger, grapefruit, and a combination of passion fruit and mango. If you're craving a taste of the exotic, Kuifi is a traditional Indian ice cream with rosewater, cardamom, and ground pistachios. As if that weren't enough, Pumphouse Creamery offers three different chocolate flavors--that's our kind of ice cream shop. Also available is a home-brewed soda, served on tap--root beer is available all year round, and rhubarb soda is available in the summer. Pumphouse Creamery's most popular flavors-- Sea Salt and Caramel with Praline Pecans and Vanilla (made using two varieties of fair trade vanilla--bourbon and Tahitian) are available in quarts at Kowalski's.
Pumphouse Creamery, 4754 Chicago Ave., Minneapolis
612.825.2021, Pumphouse Creamery website
Crema Cafe isn't just an ice cream parlor. It's a charming, if small, café serving serving everything from scrambles to oatmeal to pancakes for breakfast, and soups, salads, paninis, and pizza for lunch and dinner--all made from scratch using local and organic ingredients. But the big draw, of course, is that Crema Café has been making and serving Sonny's ice cream and sorbet since 1945.
A local favorite is the olive oil ice cream, complete with sea salt, a flavor not everyone could pull off. The ice cream is so good we'll even tolerate some of Crema Café's quirks, such as the strange hours and prolonged winter break. Sonny's ice cream cart visits the Mill City Market on Saturdays, the Kingfield Market on Sundays, and the 8th and Nicollet Mall during weekdays (weather permitting). You can also purchase pints at Lunds, Byerlys, Kowalskis, Twin City co-ops and various restaurants.
Crema Café, 3403 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
612.824.3868; Crema Cafe
The Grand Ole Creamery is the place to go for a friendly atmosphere. The ice cream--which is free of chemical additives--includes specialty flavors, such as Orange Dreamside, Chocolate Malt Banana, Sweet Cream, Black Hill Gold, and Cotton Candy. But the tried and true old-fashioned favorites (vanilla, strawberry, pistachio) hit the spot every time.
The ice cream is freshly made, buttery, and rich. The hand-rolled malted waffle cones are magical: large and bountiful; thick and cakey; still warm from the iron ... there's even a Whopper on the bottom of each one. And then there's the mocha bar on a stick, a State Fair favorite. Grand Ole Creamery's Grand location in St. Paul also serves New York style pizza. There's also a second location near Lake Nokomis.
Grand Ole Creamery, 750 Grand Ave., St. Paul
4737 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis
612.722.2261; Grand Ole Creamery website
Sebastian Joe's has been offering homemade ice cream for almost three decades. Popular flavors include raspberry, Oreo, Pavarotti (a combination of banana, caramel and chocolate chips), and the aptly named Nicollet Avenue Pot Hole, chocolate ice cream blended with fudge, truffles, Heath bars, and sea salt.
In addition to ice creams and sorbets (many of which are Kosher), Sebastian Joe's also offers ice cream sandwiches, Oreo and Turtle ice cream pies, and Brr Bars--Oreo ice cream dipped in Swiss chocolate. And don't forget to try the homemade dipped cones--coconut, almond, Butterfinger, Heath Bar, and chocolate are all available. Ice cream flavor selections change daily. Sebastian Joe's has two Minneapolis locations, one in Uptown and one in Linden Hills.
4321 Upton Ave. S, Minneapolis
1007 Franklin Ave. S, Minneapolis
612.870.0065; Sebastian Joe's website
1. Izzy's Ice Cream Cafe Izzy's Ice Cream Café is one of St. Paul's treasures. The retail store offers more than 30 flavors a day, all updated by the minute on its website. Izzy's does traditional flavors exceptionally well: The vanilla ice cream is made with Neilsen Massey's pure bourbon vanilla extract, the chocolate is dark and rich, and the mint chocolate chip boasts both peppermint oil and peppermint extract. Other tried-and-true flavors include cookies and cream made with real Oreos, strawberries, chocolate chip, cinnamon, and Guatemalan coffee (steeped in dark roast coffee beans from Peace Coffee). Seasonal and specialty flavors, such as pumpkin, tiramisu, and cotton candy, are served alongside the more traditional flavors. Each order of ice cream comes with an Izzy Scoop, a small taste of a flavor of your choice, so the mildly adventurous can pick their usual favorite while getting a ¾-ounce scoop of something completely different.
Izzy's has a fun ice cream parlor vibe and hosts fun events, such as their annual People's Flavor Awards, where customers submit new flavor ideas. Some are created and voted on, and one lucky flavor finds its way into Izzy's ice cream rotation. ("Hot Brown Sugar" was the 2006 winner, which Izzy's owner Jeff Sommers used to beat celebrity chef Bobby Flay on Flay's Food Network show Throwdown. The ice cream shop is innovative in other ways: Check out the solar panels on the roof. Can't make it to the retail location? Selected pints of Izzy's Ice Cream are available at Kowalski's, Mississippi Market, and Coborns Delivers, and the popular shop looks to expand to Minneapolis in 2012.
2034 Marshall Ave., St. Paul;
651.603.1458, Izzy's website