One of the best parts of summer is a trip to the ice cream parlor. It’s a joy that spans generations.
As a kid, I always walked up to the counter with great anticipation, studying the long list of flavors intently even though I always picked mint chocolate chip in a sugar cone topped with chocolate jimmies (what you call sprinkles in Philadelphia). I tried to quickly devour the treat before I dropped it (which I often did) or dripped it all over (which I also did).
One lick of ice cream and those sweet memories come back, even now.
Most of us don’t need an excuse to devour a chocolate malt or banana split, but if you want one, July is National Ice Cream Month, designated by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
It’s easy to relive the ice cream delights of your childhood in Tallahassee because there are so many choices, with longtime favorites and a few newcomers. At least three spots have opened in 2018 — Magda’s, N2Sweets and Sugar Rush Bar, with sweetFrog frozen yogurt shop moving soon to Bannerman Crossing.
The basic flavors still rule — including my favorite mint chocolate chip — but we have so many options. You can splurge on ice cream frozen with liquid nitrogen, slurp milkshakes topped with a slice of cheesecake or pig out on more than two dozen scoops served in a kitchen sink. Gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan alternatives are also available.
To help you scope out the best scoops in the city, here’s our guide to really cool destinations for ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt and snowballs. Now that’s sweet.
Barb’s Gourmet Brittles: For 17 years, Barbara McGarrah has been selling her carefully crafted homemade ice cream in a quaint cottage in Lake Ella. The crowning touch: Most flavors are spiked with pieces of McGarrah’s own brittle. Flavors include blueberry pralines ‘n cream, made with bits of pecan praline pieces, bubble gum with pieces of bubble gum or what she dubs chocolate “virgin” brittle because it has no nuts. You might want to grab a bag of of Barb’s brittle before you leave for a really sweet treat. The Cottages of Lake Ella, 1671 N. Monroe St.; 850-385-9839.
Big Easy Snowballs: Here’s a place where you can find snowballs on a 90-degree day. These New Orleans-style frozen treats are available in more than 98 flavors from amaretto to white chocolate, plus sugar-free varieties and seasonal picks like sangria, honey melon and horchata. One specialty is a “stuffed” snowball – any flavor with a scoop of French vanilla soft-serve ice cream in the middle. Lake Ella, 1621 N Monroe St.; 850-329-6010.
Bruster’s Real Ice Cream: To mark National Ice Cream Month, Bruster’s is serving two new flavors — cold brew coffee ice cream spiked with chocolate flakes and Cookie Craze with blue vanilla ice cream and Oreos. The shops offers 24 rotating flavors, yogurt and sorbet, with ice cream cakes and pies on the long menu. Bring your own banana to Bruster’s on Thursdays and get a banana split for half-price ($3 instead of $6). 2475 Apalachee Pkwy., 850-309-0712; 1709 W. Tharpe St., 850-383-9782.
Cold Stone Creamery: Pick your ice cream flavor, choice of mix-ins and it’s all melded together using two spades on a frozen granite stone, for a made-to-order confection. Cold Stone also serves yogurt and sorbet, with gluten-free and low-fat options, plus ice cream sandwiches, cakes and pies. Centre of Tallahassee (inside, by AMC Tallahassee 20), 2415 N Monroe St., 850-553-4560; 1444 W. Tennessee St., 850-425-1150.
Dairy Queen: The three Dairy Queen shops offer classic chocolate and vanilla soft-serve and Blizzards plus burgers, grilled chicken and sides. 2227 N. Monroe St., 850-386-3326 (open until 2 a.m. on weekends); 1725 Capital Circle NW, 850-210-1493; 1319 Capital Circle SE, 850-402-0424.
The Good Berry: Here’s a place where you can find toppings like bee pollen and chia seeds instead of sprinkles and candy bars. The Good Berry specializes in sorbet made from South America’s sweet-tart berry, açaí. Owners Joan-Manuel Pouparina and Ariel Sonnino, both recent Florida State University grads, serve açaí bowls along with smoothies and avocado toast. If you’re hunting for trendy blue spirulina, which is derived from an algae powder, you can add it to your Green Glow smoothie at the new Good Berry College Town location. 1325 Thomasville Rd., 850-778-5167; 631 W. Madison St. (by the Catalyst apartments).
Isabella Pizza: Along with Neapolitan pizza and salads, Isabella’s offers six rotating flavors of house-made gelato, many with a taste of Italy. Current choices include peanut butter, tiramisu, strawberry cheesecake, nutella and stracciatella in cups or waffle cones. College Town, 799 W. Gaines St.; 850-558-6379.
Lofty Pursuits: Tallahassee’s best-known ice cream shop, owned by Gregory Cohen, features cones, floats, rickeys, malts, freezes and yips (blended seltzer with syrup and ice cream) plus nearly three dozen sundaes. The big challenge here: the 26-scoop sundae, with every topping, served in a replica of a stainless steel kitchen sink. Lofty Pursuits rotates more than 200 flavors, including vegan choices. The shop is also known for its Victorian-style candy, called Public Displays of Confection, made in-house on equipment from the late 1800s. Lofty Pursuits serves brunch daily so you can even have pancakes or waffles with ice cream at 7 a.m.. Check out retro toys and games any time of day. 1355 Market St.; 850-521-0091.
Magda’s: Open since February, Magda’s is one of the newest ventures from the team behind For the Table Hospitality (Madison Social, Township Tallahassee, Centrale Pizza Parm & Bar). The College Town sweets shop offers a Lucky Goat latte made with cereal milk, which tastes like the milk left from a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, a craze that hit big cities like Miami and Manhattan. Flavors include the basics, birthday cake and salted pretzel served in a retro, Miami-inspired setting. FYI, Magda’s gets its name from the eccentric neighbor in Something About Mary. 815 W Madison St.; 850-321-8272.
Nuberri Frozen Yogurt: The shop, with two sites, is known for its self-serve frozen yogurt (with low-fat and no-fat options) plus gelato, custard, sorbet and Italian ices with dozens of toppings. 101 N. Blair Stone Rd., 850-222-2374; 2910 Kerry Forest Pkwy., 850-727-5257.
Peterbrooke Chocolatier: You can get a free scoop of gelato or sorbet every Wednesday in July at this shop known for its hand-dipped chocolates. Peterbrooke offers 16 rotating flavors of gelato or sorbet, including cappuccino, roasted coconut and mango served in cones, cups or by the pint. 1817 Thomasville Rd. (by Whole Foods); 850-577-3111.
Sprinkles Paradise Treats: Scott Flowers and his family have opened a new ice cream parlor called Sprinkles Paradise Treats on Mahan Drive where you can literally chill with ice cream cones and cups, elaborate sundaes and shakes or grab some Lucky Goat coffee, doughnuts, hot dogs and old-fashioned chili dogs. 1373 Mahan Dr.
Sugar Rush Bar: Open since January, Sugar Rush is one of the hottest spots in town for over-the-top cool confections. Milkshakes have names like the Cereal Killer (with Fruity Pebbles and Cap’n Crunch), Cookie Monster (with a jumbo Oreo sandwich) and Unicorn (with an ice cream cone for a horn) plus you can order a shake garnished with a slice of cheese cake or birthday cake. If you prefer the basics, get your favorite flavor in a cup or cone, plus there are bins of candy. Sugar Rush, owned by Juan Severini, started out as Shake Shop in Donut Kingdom but it’s definitely evolved. Specialties are decorated to order so be prepared for a wait. Fans would say: Worth it. 414 All Saints St.; 850-778-9227; Bannerman Crossings, 6668 Thomasville Rd.; 850-727-5790.
Rochelle Koff writes about food and dining at TallahasseeTable.com. Reach her at [email protected]