While ice cream proves delectable year-round, the summer months are when we crave this frozen dessert the most. Plus, with National Ice Cream Day coming up on July 17, you have one more reason (as if another reason were needed) to indulge in heaping piles of cookies and cream, mint chocolate chip or Rocky Road. Get your favorite scoop topped with hot fudge, butterscotch or sprinkles, served in a waffle cone, sugar cone or pressed between two soft cookies, and laden with whipped cream and chopped nuts. The choices are endless, much like the list of flavors. Here are the ten best ice cream parlors in Denver and Boulder, in alphabetical order — with the winner of our 2016 Best Ice Cream/Gelato Shop
award in the number-one slot.
10. Bonnie Brae Ice Cream
799 South University Boulevard
When a place has been around for 30 solid years, you can bet the owners know what they're doing. Such is the case with husband-and-wife teams Ken and Judy Simon and Cindy and Bob Pailet, who have run this South Denver shop since 1986. The quaint store proves just as classic as you could imagine: shaded benches outside, coolers filled with colorful treats, old-fashioned cones and milkshake makers lining the shelves, and a couple of well-placed tables and stools inside. Flavors, too, run toward the norm; you can't go wrong with a scoop of honey almond, caramel cashew or mint Oreo. Of course, if you're feeling a little wild, Bonnie Brae offers off-the-wall combinations such as red raspberry roll, bear claw and deep-dish apple pie, as well. One look at the epic menu and you'll understand why people have been making their way back for three decades.
9. Frozen Matter
530 East 19th Avenue
To say that this new Uptown ice cream shop caters to adults is an understatement. With ever-changing offerings such as the rich and savory rosemary caramel, the pleasing corn-based elote, and beery milk-chocolate chai stout, the flavors definitely play to a mature palate. But that doesn't mean the average ice cream eater won't find something familiar. For example, cool Corvus cold-brew coffee or strawberries and cream, which uses an exorbitant amount of real fruit. This tiny, elevated ice cream parlor came to the neighborhood in April, thanks to owners Gerry Kim and Josh Gertzen, who trained at the Penn State Berkey Creamery. These dairy nerds have even installed a pasteurizer and kitchen in their shop so that they can make all of their ice cream bases from scratch. Hence, the small-batch samplings prove as pure as the treats are creamy, making it an unequaled venue in the sea of kid-friendly sprinkle joints.
8. Heifer and the Hen
5290 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder
You may have to travel to Boulder to experience Ian Clark's new, sleek ice cream parlor, but believe us, it's worth it — and believe also that we're envious of Boulderites who can stop by for a scoop daily. For starters, Clark offers twenty rotating flavors of organic ice cream, which include mint-basil bitter chocolate, burnt honey and Vietnamese coffee. Clark also plays with booze in his treats, which you can see in the whiskey ginger and in one simply called Breakfast, an aptly named composition of whiskey and chocolate-covered espresso beans. Keep in mind that even though Clark just started this shop in the spring, he has been making frozen fun with the beers at his restaurant, Bru Handbuilt Ales and Eats
, for much longer. Thank goodness the chef loved the art enough to branch out and open Heifer and the Hen next door to his restaurant.
7. High Point Creamery
211 South Holly Street
Husband-and-wife team Erika Thomas and Chad Stutz got in the business because of a shared love of ice cream and the desire to make it. Good thing too because the Hilltop neighborhood didn't offer much else in the way of ice cream parlors when the couple opened the sunny shop in 2014. This bright and airy space boasts about fifteen flavors, ranging from brown-butter pecan to Earl Grey with shortbread to Tin Cup whiskey with pistachio brittle. The mint chip proves palate-cleansing and refreshing on a hot day, and the blueberry-lemon provides a summery kick akin to stuffing one's face with just-picked berries. Also on the menu: shakes, floats and a French Victorian-era-inspired dessert called an ice cream bombe.
Keep reading for the rest of the list...