There's no place like cone

What’s happening to the local ice cream scene?

It’s positively exploding with color, creativity, innovation, multi-cultural influences and increasing indulgence, too.

Today in the Twin Cities you can find ice cream that’s rolled (Thai style), scooped into a house-made tie-dye cone, presented in flights, sprinkled with edible glitter and/or served in a warm bubble waffle (see below).

And all this is to say nothing of all the mind-blowing base flavors you can find at the many shops in town, including vegan options to boot.

Parents, load up the kids: This is your ultimate summer ice cream bucket list.


Roll with it

Where: Wonders Ice Cream (Maple Grove, St. Paul and Blaine — and coming soon to Burnsville and Minneapolis)

What to order: Rolled ice cream — a popular Thai treat that’s made its way stateside — has arrived in Minnesota. This local purveyor’s most popular flavors are Oreo Oreo, Strawberry Smashed and Sour Tang. 

Bonus: You get to watch as ice cream crafters mix and mash ingredients on a super-cold hibachi (20 below zero), spread it thin to flash freeze it and methodically scrape it up with a special knife to create amazing little rolls, which are then nestled into a bowl and sprinkled with toppings, whipped cream and garnishes like Pocky and gummy worms.

ALSO TRY

Sota Hot & Cold (about three blocks west of the St. Paul Wonders location) also offers rolled ice cream and coffee, while Loulou Sweet & Savory is rocking a food truck and an uptown location at 2839 Emerson Ave. S., Minneapolis, with rolled ice cream, coffee and New Orleans-style beignets!


Crazy for caramel

Where: Cold Front, 490 Hamline Ave. S., St. Paul (next door to the iconic burger joint, The Nook)

What to order: Yes, there’s actually a flavor called This $&@! Just Got Serious (salted caramel ice cream with sea salt fudge and salted cashews), and it’s even better than it sounds (and it sounded pretty good to us).

Bonus: Not ready to commit to one flavor? Get a flight of this shop’s most popular tastes — the aforementioned This $&@! Just Got Serious; Exhausted Parent (bourbon-spiked espresso ice cream with bittersweet chocolate chunks); Zanzibar (three kinds of cocoa for a fudgy-brownie flavor); and (for your kid) Superman (colorful fruity swirled ice cream).

Pro tip: Cold Front serves Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, a hugely popular national brand from Madison, Wisconsin. See chocolateshoppeicecream.com for a map of other locations across the state (and the country) that offer this good stuff.

ALSO TRY

Salted Caramel with an Izzy scoop of Graham Cracker at Izzy’s (Minneapolis and St. Paul); Carmel Collision (caramel ice cream with a caramel swirl and chocolate-coated caramel pieces) at Scoops Ice Cream and More (Bloomington).


Death by chocolate

Where: Milkjam Creamery, 2743 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis

What to order: This hot spot is famous for its long lines — and its 16-scoop mega-platter ($58). But you don’t need all that. Just get one scoop of Ridin’ Duuurty (Oreo milk with Oreo chunks and salted peanut butter) topped with a scoop of Black (“a darkest cocoa”). Don’t worry, both you and the kids will dig this killer-choco combo. The flavor Black is amazingly vegan, sweet and somehow not too dark. See also Hard Knock Life 2.0.

ALSO TRY

Nicollet Avenue Pot Holes (fudge, truffles, chunks of Heath bar and sea salt) and Raspberry Chocolate Chip at Sebastian Joe’s (Minneapolis); Mexican Chocolate Fiesta at Izzy’s (Minneapolis and St. Paul); Chocolate from Sweet Science (sold seasonally at the Como Lakeside Pavilion in St. Paul and at grocers); Chocolate Gold (chocolate and caramel) from Honey & Mackie’s Ice Cream & Fresh Fries (Plymouth). See also: Salted Caramel With Peanuts (below).


Tropical dream

Where: Sonny’s Ice Cream, 3403 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis

What to order: If you love coconut, you need to try the Toasted Coconut ice cream. This place (you might have heard it called Crema in the past) makes 1,000 flavors of ice cream, gelato and sorbet in any given year. Plus, Sonny’s is a café with family-friendly food and a charming patio, too, ideal for a date-night dessert.

ALSO TRY

Coconut Explosion or Key Lime Pie at The Social Ice Cream Parlor (Victoria).


Dairy free (veg)an

Where: The Wedge Community Co-op, 2105 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis

What to order: Sorbet and/or Italian ice are always good bets for kids (and adults) who can’t eat dairy. But why not try something a little different — and creamy without the cream — with Wedgemade Coconut Milk Soft Serve, which comes in vanilla, chocolate or twist. Yes, it’s vegan and gluten free, too.

ALSO TRY

Licks Unlimited (Excelsior) — Raspberry Lemon Sorbet (sweet raspberry and tart lemon Italian ices swirled together) from Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream. Also, go to luvicecream.com to find stores that sell local, vegan LUV Ice Cream.


Minty goodness

Where: Licks Unlimited, 31 Water St., Excelsior

What to order: Mint Avalanche. This mint ice cream from Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream is studded with Andes candies, Grasshopper cookies and a fudge swirl. We recommend ordering this in Licks’ amazing chocolate-dipped waffle cone (above) for pure decadence.

ALSO TRY

Thin Mint/Mint Oreo (one scoop of each) at Big Dipper Creamery (Blaine and North Oaks).


Wannabe banana

Where: It’s a tie — between two of the hottest new ice cream shops in Minneapolis.

What to order: Bananutella (traditional vanilla ice cream, fresh slices of banana, a Nutella drizzle and whipped cream in a freshly made egg-custard bubble waffle, served with a color-changing spoon, below) at the spacious Waffle Bar Desserts & Tea, 2758 Lyndale Ave. S. (across the street from Milkjam); Gone Bananaz (soft serve topped with bananas, puppy chow, fudge, nuts and edible glitter) at Minnesota Nice Cream, 807 Broadway St. NE (home of the tie-dye cone).