Top Minneapolis Ice Cream Spots
If July has you screaming for ice cream, Minneapolis is my idea of the perfect place to be during National Ice Cream Month. Minneapolis is a city that loves its ice cream, regardless of the season, and we take it seriously. For a locally made treat that can please the pickiest of crowds and accommodate special requests for vegan or gluten-free, you can't go past ice cream! Here are four of my favorite local scoop shops. With the endless and ever-changing array of flavors available, these should keep you occupied for the summer and beyond.
Sebastian Joe’s was opened in Minneapolis in 1984 by three brothers, and to this day it remains an independent and family-run business with two locations. The shop closest to Loews Minneapolis is located in the Lowry Hill neighborhood, a 10-minute drive from downtown.
Sebastian Joe’s ice cream is made fresh daily using all natural ingredients. They have seven signature flavors always available, including local classics like Pavarotti (caramel, bananas, and chocolate chips in vanilla ice cream) and Nicollet Avenue Pothole (chocolate, caramel, chunks of Heath Bar, fudge truffles, and a fudge swirl with sea salt). Vegan, gluten-free, and kosher flavors are always available.
Sebastian Joe’s has amassed a collection of hundreds of flavors so check their live feed online before you go if you’re craving something specific or want to decide how to fill your waffle cone (made from a secret recipe!) in advance. Their seasonal flavors will keep you cool in the summer (sorbets such as Grapefruit Campari come to mind) and keep you coming back in cooler weather for fall specialties like pumpkin and winter favorites like candy cane. You can also get a great cup of coffee at Sebastian Joe’s — brewed from beans that are roasted onsite so you can indulge in both coffee and dessert.
Located in the Nokomis neighborhood, a 15-minute drive south of downtown, Pumphouse Creamery has been making “farm-to-frozen” ice cream for 15 years. Created and founded by Barb Zapalka, this tiny shop makes all ice cream onsite, using ingredients that are organic, local, and natural. Even the waffle cones are created with the best ingredients — made from scratch with locally milled organic heirloom flour, cane sugar, local butter, local eggs, and… that’s it. Pumphouse Creamery serves up 20 rotating flavors, including flavors that are dairy-free and some selections that are gluten-free.
The most popular and must-try flavor is Sea Salt Caramel with Praline Pecans, a Pumphouse Creamery classic since it was introduced in 2004. The Earl Grey and Lavender flavors are unique, refreshing, and are worth sampling. Other great flavors for summer include Fresh Banana, the newly added Bing Cherry Ice Cream with Chocolate Chips, and Fresh Rhubarb ice cream, their best-selling seasonal flavor, available for a limited time. If picking one flavor proves to be too difficult, you can try their sampler of five mini scoops, or buy a pint for the road.
Izzy’s Ice Cream
Izzy’s Ice Cream was started in St. Paul in 2000 by a husband and wife team who were both born and raised in Minnesota. The Minneapolis location in the Mill District opened in 2013 across the street from Gold Medal Park and includes an onsite ice cream kitchen where their handmade ice cream is produced.
Along with using dairy products from the Midwest, Izzy’s ice cream also features local ingredients such as Minneapolis’s Peace Coffee and Oatmeal Stout from Summit Brewery in St. Paul. Izzy’s offers non-dairy and gluten-free options in regular rotation. Some of their must-try specialty flavors include Blue Mountain Spice (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom in chai spice flavored ice cream), Hot Brown Sugar (burnt caramel and brown sugar ice cream with praline pecans cooked in cayenne pepper), and Swedish Garden Party (elderflower ice cream with pieces of ginger snap cookie and a raspberry swirl), created for the Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.
You can sign up for "Flavor Up!" to receive email notifications when your desired flavor is being served. Since they rotate through 100 flavors, I subscribe so I always know when I can get the Peppermint Oreo or when I’ll be trying something new. They also tweet within three minutes of adding a new flavor to their case, so keep your phone close at hand. If you’re torn between two flavors, a scoop of ice cream is topped with their signature and trademarked Izzy scoop, a small ¾ ounce serving added to the top.
Brothers Sameh and Saed Wadi opened Milkjam Creamery in January (as in the middle of winter January!) 2016, in the Uptown neighborhood, a 10-minute drive from downtown. Be prepared to wait, as Milkjam fans line up most nights for a scoop or two (or four) of their creative, sometimes unusual, always delicious flavors. Their ice cream is made from scratch and since co-founder Sameh is lactose-intolerant, typically half of the flavors are dairy-free. (Gluten-free selections are always available as well.)
Their eponymous Milkjam flavor (caramelized goat, cow, and condensed milks) is a must-try. If you love chocolate, the Hard Knock Life 2.0 (dark chocolate ice cream with salted chocolate fudge, whoppers, and brownies) won't disappoint. If you love Oreos, Ridin’ Duuurty is made with Oreo-flavored milk and also includes chunks of Oreo along with salted peanut butter. If neither of those tempt you, the Purple One (black currant with lavender), Cereal Killers (coriander milk with candied pebbles), and Thai Tea (black tea with condensed milk) are worthy substitutions.
If you like your ice cream with a side of donut, Milkjam’s version of an ice cream sandwich (called a Jam Bun) is made with your choice of ice cream and local Glam Doll donuts. For those who are indecisive, or willing to share, there’s the option to do a flight of any four flavors, or the “All of Them” option, which includes a scoop of each of the 16 flavors currently available. Their scoop lineup changes regularly, so visiting twice in a weekend is encouraged.
If you find yourself in Minneapolis, consider yourself lucky. You’ve hit the ice cream jackpot! Even if you miss celebrating National Ice Cream Month here this July, we’ll be here in the winter and the ice cream will taste just as delicious… if a little colder!
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