Our 6 Favorite St. Louis Ice Cream Shops
Now that it’s
warm HOT, I’ve got ice cream on my brain at least 17 times more than usual. Luckily I was able to do plenty of reconnaissance while pregnant, Ethan was in special-treat heaven as I waddled around giving in to every craving. His usual inquiry, “Mom, what’s my after school treat?” was all the encouragement I needed to pick something awesome. Don’t make the mistake of bribing your pre-schooler into taking a nap at school by promising a treat at pick-up—they will hold you to it for the rest of your life.
Pregnant mommy didn’t mind, my solution was ice cream. Like once a week. Minimum.
We have some favorite places I’m about to share, and they aren’t just good. They are INCREDIBLE. Like make you want to take a pint home. Not that I never did that. (wink)
These are not in any specific order because honestly, there’s no way I could pick a #1. And the pictures are pretty shabby, tough to hold cones and wrangle kids while taking selfies. Just trust us, these are the places you want to go:
In all honesty, I’d kind of forgotten about this cute little place in Webster Grove’s Old Orchard until my friend Sara told me about their Monday night special, balloon animals by Silly Jilly. The husbands were out of town so we took the kids to dinner at Tei Too (dinner with four kids = anything but relaxing) then headed next door to Serendipity for some well deserved (for the moms anyway) dessert. Sara and I went a little crazy and each got the signature Drumstick—a GIANT ball (as big as your head) of vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate and pecans. It was heavenly. Ethan couldn’t resist the blue Cookie Monster flavor and was happy to help with my indulgence as well. We sat in the little parlor and watched Silly Jilly make amazing things out of balloons, probably the most impressive being Ethan’s request for a “fighter jet”. She nailed it. She’ll be there at 6pm every Monday this summer (it’s on the calendar!), so it’s perfect excuse for an after dinner treat. I love the small-town feel of this neighborhood shop.
BRAND spankin new, we just made our first trip to Jeni’s this week. Filling a constantly rotating storefront in the Central West End just North of Left Bank Books, Jeni’s will surely be the dessert destination for diners of the excellent neighboring restaurants. It’s really a perfect addition. My friend over at Third Story(ies) is a skilled ice cream maker and swears by the Jeni’s cookbook, has been following the author for years. Trying the delectable and unique flavors, there’s no doubt this has to be some of the best ice cream I’ve ever tried. Just the Sun-Popped Corn alone…incredible. Thick, creamy texture with intense flavor. We each got the Two Half Scoop cones (the perfect size, in my opinion), Ethan going with Darkest Chocolate and Red Raspberry Sorbet, I tried the Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso and Ndali Estate Vanilla Bean—all incredible. The menu is impressive yet simple, the shop trendy yet comfortable. I loved that we were encouraged to sample many flavors and told lots of details about what goes into making this ice cream. Welcome to St. Louis Jeni’s!
Another BRAND new St. Louis food scene addition, Clementine’s has been on my radar for a while. I’ve seen it teased and taunted through Instagram and local magazines, so we headed right over to the Lafayette Square shop the week after the opening. They are known for their “naughty” flavors saturated with libations. We were the only ones there, at a weird time like 3:45pm, and the guy behind the counter encouraged us to try everything. So we did! We split the three scoop option—Ethan landed on Kickass Chocolate (or Chocolate, as far as he’s concerned) and I got Coconut Chocolate Fudge and Maple Bourbon, which had so much booze it could barely be frozen. The flavors were totally intense and atmosphere very hip. I had to fight Ethan off my cone until the boozey stuff was gone, and there were many comments made about my lack of “sharing skills.”
Starting with a newish place just across the park in Shaw, this place is totally outstanding and completely different than anything I’ve ever had anywhere. You aren’t going to Ices for a scoop, you are going for a Nitro Ice. The menu changes often but I promise, it’s all amazing. Once you’ve picked your poison, say Berries and Cream, the artists behind the counter actually make your ice cream. Liquid nitrogen and an ice cream base come together in a Kitchenaid Mixer, smoke wafting into the air to the delight of the kids (and adults). There are infusions and mix-ins…all kinds of tricks resulting in delectable treats in a totally sharable size (aka huge). The ‘Smores Nitro Ice came with a lid that, when removed, released campfire smoke. The result made me feel like I was on the fanciest camping trip ever, just as if I’d made a marshmallow over the fire. When it’s busy, don’t expect this trip to be quick, everyone’s order gets the same special treatment and that takes a bit of time. Plan on people watching and relaxing on the corner patio, I promise it’s worth it.
This was probably my most frequent pregnancy craving. I often dreamed about the After Dinner Mint and Black Cherry ice cream flavors, so rich and classic, especially when eaten in the precious art deco parlor setting. The ice cream comes from Wisconsin and is aged to let the flavors develop—it’s either that process or the pin-up girl murals and hex floor tiles that make the Fountain’s cold treats so good. This is a perfect date night stop, the signature ice cream martinis are delicious and the sundaes…yum. It’s also a great place to grab lunch or dinner…just be ready to stay for dessert. For a tiny treat try the World’s Smallest Ice Cream Cone. Oh, and don’t forget to visit the restroom, it was voted “Best In St. Louis”.
6. Ted Drewes
You can’t make a St. Louis food list without Ted Drewes. It’s iconic, it’s historic, it’s tradition. And man, it is damn fine ice cream—custard really. The creamiest custard in the world. We love our Ted Drewes, the signature caution-yellow cups are recognizable at every event throughout the city, but the best place to grab a “concrete” is at the Chippewa location. A mere walk-up shack, just 20 yards from the busy road. Standing in one of the many lines, among the families and groups, scanning the myriad options on the menu board, then giving your order to once of the kids working the counter, listening to them shout your order and calculate your total in a split second. Your concrete is delivered upside-down, always. Standing on the roadside or parking lot is the norm—there’s no seating—but our favorite spot is the back of my SUV. All part of the Ted Drewes experience. Great people watching. Growing up I would beg for Ted Drewes whenever we visited our St. Louis family. I love how Ethan loves it too.
So that’s our list! We no longer make weekly trips but when we get ice cream, we get the good stuff.
What did we miss? Where do you go for ice cream in STL?