A Guide to Some of St. Louis’ Best Spots for Ice Cream
July–in case you didn’t know–is National Ice Cream Month!
What better place to celebrate an entire month of ice cream than St. Louis?
After all, this is the destination that gave the country the waffle ice cream cone. It happened at the 1904 World’s Fair, and while accounts vary, many historians say Ernest A. Hamwi, a Syrian vendor at the fair, came up with the idea of shaping waffles into cones.
Someone–history’s hazy on who that was–plopped a scoop of ice cream in the “cone,” and a staple of summer was born.
Is it any wonder that St. Louis is bursting with great places to enjoy great ice cream–and its variants. Bella’s Frozen Yogurt Café, Fitz’s Bottling Company, FroYo: Premium Frozen Yogurt, Dr. Jazz Ice Cream Parlor & Diner, Mary’s Sweet Shoppe, and Benito’s Gelato are just a few places to chill.
In fact, there are so many incredible flavors, toppings and concoctions in St. Louis that you could try a new one each day in July–thank goodness there’s 31 of ‘em!–and not get around to trying them all.
So in the spirit of National Ice Cream month, here’s a sampling of some places to experience a chill thrill in St. Louis:
Chill Frozen Yogurts
7610 Wydown Blvd.
Chill Frozen Yogurts, a shop in Clayton that draws customers from all over the St. Louis area, is a great place to try ice cream’s newest cousin if you haven’t already. Creamier than ice cream, frozen yogurt is low fat–or in some cases non-fat so it can be easier on the waistline. It’s made with less sugar although some flavors lend additional sugar to the final product. Chill’s flavorings use natural ingredients, too. Its banana pudding yogurt, for example, is flavored with real bananas.
What’s cool? Dream up a new flavor, enter it in Chill’s contest and you could win free yogurt for a month.
What’s hot? Banana pudding, salted caramel, birthday cake (frozen yogurt flavors); cookie dough, Heath, fresh fruit, Oreos (topping flavors)
Why go? If you like fresh and local, you’ll love Chill. Arctic Dairy, a local dairy, makes all of Chill’s yogurts, including its custom flavors. “We have a dairy that makes yogurt specifically for us and only for us so there’s no one else in St. Louis or even the country can get the same quality or the same type of yogurt we have,” Egan says. “We can come up with any flavor we like, and the dairy will recreate it. That’s another thing that brings a lot of people in.”
920 Olive Street
St. Louis, Mo
Bailey’s Range known for its wonderfully juicy burgers and excellent beer selection. But it would be a tragedy to forget the ice cream, especially when the ice cream in question is homemade and includes such inventive flavors.
What’s cool? Weekly Battle of the Ice Creams where customers can vote on their favorite of two new experimental flavors. A recent battle pitted “Banana Nutella” against “Watermelon Sorbet”
What’s Hot? Baileys (as in Baileys Irish Cream), Three-Chili Chocolate, Salted Caramel
Why Go? It’s in the heart of downtown St. Louis and everything is made from scratch!
Crown Candy Kitchen
1401 St. Louis Ave.
St. Louis, MO
Crown Candy Kitchen, where the locals go, has been serving up yummy things to St. Louisans since 1913. True to its name, the eatery makes its own chocolate candies but you can also get lunch or dinner there. The place–with a massive soda fountain, juke box and displays of Coca Cola collectibles–is a step back in time. But for us, the main reason to go to Crown Candy is the unparalleled ice cream concoctions. Made on site in an antique copper candy kettle, Crown’s ice cream contains 14 percent butterfat. Crown says it’s rich and creamy – but not too sweet.
What’s cool? The Johnny Rabbit Special, a fresh banana malt with whipped cream, nuts and nutmeg.
What’s hot: Ice cream in a dozen flavors, ice cream sodas and malts and shakes–they’re 24 ounces! Feeling extra hungry? Take the Crown Candy Kitchen challenges–drink five malts in a half hour and they’re free.
Why go? If you want ice cream concoctions the way they used to be made, this is the place for you. Crown Candy is one of the few places left where you can buy our favorite, the ice cream soda.
Sure you can get a great meal at Fountain on Locust but man does not live by bread alone. Especially when there’s ice cream this good. Oh, and did we mention ice cream martinis? H-e-a-v-e-n-l-y is the only way to describe them. We recently texted a picture of our first Mississippi Mudslide to a friend with only three letters–OMG! And the desserts are just as sublime. Owner Joy Grdnic Christensen says Fountain’s ice cream, which it gets from a dairy in Wisconsin, is outstanding because it’s aged.
What’s cool? Everything served at Fountain, other than the ice cream and the marshmallow topping, is made from scratch onsite including the whipped cream. “No other ice cream shop is making whipped cream from scratch in St. Louis–that I know of,” Christianson says.
What’s hot? Coconut Almond Joy, Zanzibar chocolate, “after dinner mint,” butter pecan, black cherry.
Why go? The ice cream, the ice cream, the ice cream. And for adults, the ice cream martini!
Gelateria Del Leone
3197 S. Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, MO
Legend has it that Marco Polo brought a version of gelato, Italian ice cream, back to what is now known as Italy, from China and centuries later Catherine de Medici, a member of the powerful banking family in Florence, brought it to the rest of Europe when she married into French aristocracy. Gelato is made with whole milk so it is 7-8 percent butterfat compared to 12-20 percent butterfat in regular ice cream, Gelateria Del Leone owner Chris Sherman says . With less fat, you get more flavor. That’s why gelato flavors are more intense than ice cream’s.
What’s cool? Everything served at Gelataria Del Leone, including the toppings, is made onsite. “If you’re getting caramel from us,” we actually make it,” owner Chris Shearman says.
What’s hot? Pistachio; deep, rich chocolate, chocolate hazelnut.
Why go? If you have to ask what gelato is, it’s time you tried it. If you do know what it is, what are you waiting for?
1327 Washington Ave.
St. Louis, MO
Owners Jonathan Andrus and his wife Amanda were customers of Gelateria Tavolini when it was owned by Chris Shearman and his wife Dana. They later bought the business when the Shearmans wanted to concentrate their efforts on Gelateria Del Leone. They get all of their gelato, sorbetto (the Italian equivalent of sherbet) and toppings from the Shearmans so the quality is the same as what you’d get at Gelateria Del Leone. Although gelato is a lower fat alternative to ice cream, it’s denser and a small portion goes a long way.
What’s cool? Gelato’s flavor which is “richer, stronger, more powerful” than ice cream’s, Andrus says. And sorbetto is a fat-free, dairy-free option.
What’s hot? Chocolate gelato, which Andrus calls “the ice cream equivalent of fudge.” He sells more of it than anything else, he says. Also: banana cream pie, salted caramel, butterscotch pecan.
Why go? For the same reasons you’d go to Gelateria Del Leone. Besides, Gelateria Tavolini (which means small tables) is close to City Museum, so it’s a great stopping point before or after a fun outing there.
Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream
8130 Big Bend Blvd.
Webster Groves, MO
Your biggest problem at Serendipity, an ice cream shop in Webster, will be figuring out which flavor you want. The store makes–on site–more than 100 flavors, among them gooey butter, toasted coconut, Bordeaux cherry and Cookie Monster, a bright blue ice cream that tastes like cotton candy. Fortunately, your decision is narrowed because only 28 flavors are in the case at any given time. Serendipity draws customers from all around and sells to 100 restaurants “all over town,” owner Beckie Jacobs says.
What’s cool? Can’t decide which flavor to go with? Opt for the “Tiny Trio,” mini scoops of three flavors in a cup or cone.
What’s hot: Gold Coast Chocolate (using Velvet Freeze’s original recipe), salty carmel swirl and Cookie Monster.
Why go? Not only does Serendipity have some fantastic flavors, the shop is planning “a huge, giant National Ice Cream Day and 10th anniversary celebration” in the week leading up to National Ice Cream Day. “We’re having a huge bash that weekend,” owner Beckie Jacobs says. The celebration includes Customer Appreciation Days with free waffle cone upgrades on Monday, July 15 and free topping upgrades on Friday, July 19. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of that week Serendipity will celebrate “community give back days.” In honor of its 10th anniversary, the shop will give 10 percent of its profits to Operation Food Search on July 16, Food Outreach on July 17 and Gateway to Hope, a local organization that provides medical care to uninsured and underinsured women suffering from breast cancer on July 18.
On Saturday, July 20 there will be live music by David’s Guitar Loft and “fun stuff” that evening, Jacobs says. Activities on Sunday will include games, face painting and a ballon artist from 6-8 p.m. And, there will be hourly specials all day long.
Nothing says “summer in St. Louis” like Cardinals baseball and Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. Don’t be put off by the long lines when you drive up. The kids working inside move fast and keep things moving. Plus, the frozen custard comes in only one flavor. “It’s all vanilla,” says General Manager Travis Dillon. “That makes quick service possible for us. People don’t have to wait very long.”
frozen custard has to have at least 10 percent butter content and eggs in it. cream, milk, honey, eggs and real vanilla
Ted Drewes frozen custard has been a St. Louis tradition since 1929 years.
What’s cool? Chocolate, chocolate chip, Heath bar®, Oreo® and cookie dough concretes; hot fudge sundaes.
What’s hot? The Dutchman (chocolate, butterscotch and pecans over the frozen custard), Terra Mizzou, a special blend of chocolate and pistaccios and spumoni, the Cardinal Sin (hot fudge and tart cherries), the Hawaiian (pineapple, bananas, macadamia nuts and coconut).
Why go? It’s Ted Drewes. What other reason do you need? Besides, now you can enjoy Ted Drewes even if you’re watching your calories. The mini concrete has been a staple size on the menu for some time but a couple of years ago Ted Drewes added the “micro,” an even smaller version of the concrete. “It’s a perfect size for right after you’ve eaten and you want a few bites of a concrete,” Dylan says. “Ted wanted to make sure we have a size to fit all people.” And, if you’re short on dough, there’s the 60-cent cone so a family of five can enjoy the tasty frozen treat for just $3.
Tower Grove Creamery
3101 S. Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, MO
If you fell in love with Central Dairy ice cream when you were a student at Mizzou or on a stop in Jefferson City on your way to the lake, you’ll be happy to know you no longer have to go to central Missouri to enjoy Central Dairy products. Co-owner Beulah Ann McCreery, says some people get very excited when they learn Tower Grove Creamery serves Central Dairy Ice Cream.
The shop is located across from Tower Grove Park in the South Grand neighborhood.
What’s cool? Oreo pies and ice cream sandwiches made with Beulah Ann’s homemade cookies.
What’s hot? Tiger Tracks, Moose Tracks, Jamoca almond fudge, muddy river, pralines and cream ice cream; white and yellow cake batter and piña colata frozen yogurts.
Why go? If you want ice cream and your spouse/child/friend wants frozen yogurt, you need to go to Central Dairy, a rare establishment that serves both. And the ice cream and the frozen yogurt are both Missouri-made. The ice cream is from Jefferson City’s Central Dairy, and the frozen yogurt is from Pacific Dairy in Pacific, MO.
According to the International Dairy Foods Association, when President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day in 1984, he urged people to observe them with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
We second that and raise our malt in tribute to National Ice Cream Month, summer’s most flavorful holiday.
Guest Blogger Kathie Sutin a freelance writer from St. Louis, Missouri contributed this blog.