Ice cream is probably one of the top 20 foods ever. It’s amazing — not only are its flavors rich yet refreshing, but it also plays dual roles in the culinary scene.
It can be fancy if dressed up with a sprig of mint and served in glassware, but it can also be an everyman’s food when served in paper cups with plastic spoons.
Here at A&E we spent the past week getting to know the ice cream scene of St. Paul and Minneapolis a little better. It was a delicious, yet arduous task. There was so little time to experience so much great ice cream.
Below are our thoughts on some of the standouts.
Best to impress: Crema Cafe
This classy café’s commitment to making things from scratch with organic ingredients starts with its espresso bar menu, continues with its dinner and weekend brunch menus, and of course includes its bevy of exotic gelato and sorbet flavors.
Take a date here and amaze them with your sophisticated palate when you skip over the calmer flavors like strawberry banana or Crema coffee and instead opt for something like strawberry basil balsamic or olive oil.
Really trying to win someone’s heart? Order your date one of this spot’s 21-plus floats. These adult treats mix Prosecco and any gelato flavor of your choosing.
While you munch on your artisan ice cream, sit on the romantic patio that feels more like the middle of Rome than the middle of Uptown, or take a stroll around nearby Lake Calhoun.
And the Creamy goes to Crema Cafe! (3403 S. Lyndale Ave., Minneapolis)
Most classic: DQ Grill & Chill
Classics can take you back to simpler times. The simple flavors of this Midwest chain’s vanilla cone certainly brings me back to a time when all I wanted was to go get ice cream after T-ball practice and eat half of my cone while the other half slowly dripped down my chin.
Losing some of its Midwestern quaintness after shortening its name to just initials, I was worried for the home of my childhood favorite.
However, after recently sampling the vanilla cone, I can rest assured that it’s exactly the same 15 years later … and that’s the best part.
And the Creamy goes to DQ Grill & Chill! (Multiple locations)
Most variety: Izzy’s Ice Cream
This St. Paul neighborhood favorite has reached local celebrity status, not only for its kooky flavor creations, but also for its “Izzy Scoop” — the additional baby scoop you get no matter what portion of ice cream you order.
This bonus means you get to sample a new flavor every time you go without committing to a whole scoop. You also won’t have to worry about holding up the long line, which, if you go on a weekend, will most likely be there.
All made in-house, this establishment serves more than 30 flavors and introduces a limited quantity of a new sample flavor regularly.
And the Creamy goes to Izzy’s Ice Cream! (2034 Marshall Ave., St. Paul)
Creamiest: Sebastian Joe’s
Another favorite in the Uptown ice cream scene, this joint is always bustling on warm summer nights — and with good reason.
This shop provides classic flavors, homemade in small batches, like chocolate and strawberry alongside wilder selections like Mint Milano and Cappuccino Heath.
All the flavors have one thing in common — their creamy texture sets them apart. The smoothness of the frozen dessert served here is unparalleled by any of the other establishments sampled in our roundup.
And the Creamy goes to Sebastian Joe’s! (4321 S. Upton Ave. and 1007 S. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis)
Best extra treats: Amy’s Classic Confections
Ice cream is a great treat, but sometimes it just isn’t enough to satisfy that sweet tooth.
There are no better accompaniments to homemade ice cream than this store’s homemade brownies, lemon bars and fudge.
As soon as you step into this little skyway sweets shop, you’re hit with the sweet, heavy aroma of baking chocolate goodies.
The owner, who the shop is named for, is often on-site creating her concoctions.
In addition to the treats made in the store, there’s a smorgasbord of every type of sweet one could imagine. The bountiful variety of sweets are mostly made locally in the Twin Cities, but if it’s M&M’s or Jelly Bellys you crave — don’t worry, they’ve got those classics too.
The ice cream is great, but the extra delicacies really make this spot worthwhile.
And the Creamy goes to Amy’s Classic Confections! (601 Marquette Ave. # 216, Minneapolis)