The warm weather has us constantly craving ice cream, and yesterday, we listed our five best Denver parlors. While those are the places we're most likely to go for a double-scoop cone, ice cream parlors aren't the only places in town that turn out the dessert we crave: there are quite a few Denver restaurants that deliver a worthy scoop.
And so, as a follow up to yesterday's list, here, in no particular order, are our five favorite scoops of ice cream and gelato that come from restaurants.
Spuntino, 2639 West 32nd Avenue Like any good neighborhood Italian cafe, Spuntino features a case full of house-spun gelati and sorbetti, and we can't get enough. Ethereally light and decadently creamy, the rotating flavors are made with seasonal ingredients and good chocolate. We love the amaretto, which is buttery smooth and lightly almond-y. We swoon over the chocolate orange, a perfect match of bitter and sweet. And we'd go out of our way for the tart raspberry sorbet on any warm afternoon. But the sea salt chocolate caramel is one of the best things we've ever put in our mouths, period: a sweet, milky caramel base topped with a thin layer of soft dark chocolate and sprinkled with flaky sea salt. Each bite is a decadent explosion of sweet, salty and bitter, and by the time we scrape our tiny silver dishes clean, we only want more.
Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar, 1512 Curtis Street While we make obsessive trips to ice cream parlors around town when we're craving a frozen scoop, there are certain ice cream cravings that send us, instead, to Le Grand. The restaurant doesn't exactly tout its ice cream prowess -- in fact, scoops are just served on the side of another dessert. But it shouldn't be overlooked: Le Grand turns out delicious flavors like basil buttermilk and orange caramel. One of our favorites is the walnut-praline ice cream, served in the colder months: sweet and creamy, lightly caramel-y and studded with crispy, sugared nuts, we eat a vat of it.
Jax Fish House, 1539 17th Street We're not scoop purists when it comes to ice cream; we'll take our frozen treat in just about any fashion you care to serve it, including a la mode, in a sandwich or blended into a shake. Or in a root beer float -- we love the root beer float. And the best root beer float we've ever had comes from Jax Fish House, where a frosty mug comes with two scoops of, say, salted caramel ice cream topped off with the spot's house made root beer. Please pass the straw. And quickly.
Frasca Food and Wine and Pizzeria Locale, 1738 Pearl Street, Boulder These restaurants specialize in specific parts of Italy, and while most attention is focused on Friulano entrees or Napolitano pizzas, the gelati and sorbetti on the dessert lists at Frasca and Pizzeria Locale are worth a stop. And that's whether or not you're planning on eating an entire dinner. The restaurants make a run of simple flavors -- vanilla bean, dark chocolate, coconut and raspberry -- that are all ethereally smooth and dense with flavor. We just wish Caffè would pack the treats into takeaway pints.
TAG, 1441 Larimer Street This Larimer Square restaurant has a menu full of flashy food, dishes that combine flavor elements that shouldn't work together, but somehow do. This wizardry extends to desserts: In addition to a number of pastries, TAG collaborates with the ice cream geniuses at Ice Cream Alchemy to serve up ten or so wacky ice cream flavors that include an incredible salted caramel, nostalgic cereal blends (like Lucky Charms and Cocoa Puffs) and some truly weird stuff, like lobster and uni. Silky and light, a scoop is a perfect way to end dinner -- or a good reason just to stop in at the end of the evening.
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An honorable mention goes to Sam's No. 3, which has its own ice cream counter.
Know of another great scoop? Tell us about it below.