Denver's five best spots for ice cream
The Memorial Day weekend is upon us, which means that many of you are firing up the grills and planning to hit the parks for a weekend of frolicking in the sunshine. As for us, we're getting ready to celebrate the holiday -- and what feels like the beginning of summer -- with a cold, sweet treat.
While frozen yogurt shops are plentiful in this town, there are really only a handful of places where you can scoop up great ice cream. Here are Denver's five best:
These aren't traditional traditional ice cream shops, but the gelati and sorbetti on Frasca's dessert list are worth a stop, whether or not you're planning on eating an entire dinner. The Friulian restaurant makes a run of simple flavors -- vanilla bean, dark chocolate, coconut and raspberry -- that are all ethereally smooth and dense with flavor. And since Pizzeria Locale is now serving this stuff, too, you don't have to nab a seat at Frasca's bar just to order three scoops of ice cream.
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 serves 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.
It's hard to miss the big silver milk jug at the edge of Highland; besides being architecturally interesting, it's always swarming with people. They come for cones and cups of creamy banana-flavored ice cream studded with chocolate chips, or sweet and spicy ginger gelato, or tangy mint-lime sorbet. The treats, made in small batches and by hand, are so decadent that you might want to buy an entire pint.
While several shops on the Front Range make their own ice cream, none do it as creatively as Sweet Action. The place is inventive with flavors, supplementing the typical chocolate and vanilla variations with treats made from beer, baklava, a honey and chile blend, and Cadbury Creme Egg. Today the dessert-monger is offering up vanilla rose, oatmeal raisin, chocolate toffee and mint chip -- and there's no telling what it'll come up with for tomorrow.
1. Sweet Cow
This Louisville-based store is a micro-batch-focused shop that starts with cream, sugar and natural flavorings and creates a lineup of indulgences that are close-your-eyes good: thick and velvety, bursting with gooey swirls and crunchy accoutrements, and so creamy they're practically buttery. We're into the apple pie, the robust Ozo coffee and the sweet corn, but we'll basically eat a scoop of anything that comes from Sweet Cow. That's why it landed our Best Ice Cream award in theBest of Denver 2011.
Honorable mentions go to Bonnie Brae Ice Cream, a Denver institution that features a good convivial vibe; Glacier Ice Cream, which serves up great pints and cones in Boulder; and Spuntino, which doesn't have ice cream, per se, but has kick-ass popsicles.
Have another favorite? Tell us about it below.
More Best of Denver Lists:
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.