There are few things my nearly grown children like more than my annual ice cream update.
I was thinking that the pandemic might have slowed the number of places celebrating the frozen dairy delight, but I was wrong. The past year has brought a few more Instagrammable places and a classic parlor that also serves a killer hoagie.
Here’s my 2021 list, which is not meant to be a comprehensive listing of places to get ice cream in the east metro, but rather recommendations for where to get a sweet treat. That said, if I missed your favorite spot, email firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know.
* denotes a parlor new to our list
I’m a sucker for an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, and I love a good chili dog, and this bright, cheery spot in the former Golden Thyme coffee shop space offers both! High-quality ice cream, classic malts and shakes, pie and more are on the menu at this brand-new spot on Selby Avenue. One of the sweetest things about 2 Scoops? You can donate to the “2 Scoops 4 Kids” fund, which offers free ice cream cones to neighborhood children.
921 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651-645-0227; 2scoopseatery.com
This company has been putting out high-quality ice cream in one form or another since 1936. Longtime Twin Cities residents will remember standalone Bridgeman’s Ice Cream Shoppes all over the area, but most of them closed in the 1980s. Recently, the company has risen from the ashes and opened this sweet parlor in a Woodbury strip mall. There’s a wide array of flavors, malts, sundaes and other sweet treats to sample. For those who remember, the 8-scoop La La Palooza sundae is still kicking, and if you finish it, you get your photo on the wall.
2110 Eagle Creek Lane, Woodbury; 763-971-2947; bridgemans.com
This shop in the old Lynden’s Soda Fountain in St. Paul makes its own soda syrups, and the flavors, like lemongrass and blood orange-beetroot, trend toward the exotic.
The high-quality ice cream comes from the Chocolate Shoppe in Madison, Wis. Get it in a cone, a sundae, a float or a malt. There are even a few tables outside and/or curbside pickup for you to enjoy your treat safely.
490 S. Hamline Ave., St. Paul; 651-330-7632; coldfrontmsp.com
Conny’s Creamy Cone
This sweet, nostalgic spot serves more than 24 flavors of soft serve, including mango, blueberry, Irish cream, pina colada and more.
The counter-service operation is painted bright red and white, and you can’t miss the giant ice-cream cone on the roof as you’re driving down Dale Street in St. Paul.
The place is a favorite with neighbors, so picnic tables and bench seating is at a premium.
Get your soft-serve fix in a cone, a dish or a sundae, dipped or in a malt.
There’s a menu of sandwiches and deep-fried delights, too.
1197 Dale St., St. Paul; 651-488-4150; connyscreamycone.com
Cup and Cone
In charming downtown White Bear Lake, stopping for a soft-serve cone after lunch or dinner is the thing to do, and Cup and Cone is where you do it, since the mid-1970s.
The cones here are inexpensive, cold and creamy, and they still offer dips and crunches for just a few cents extra.
They have simple subs, hot dogs and brats, too, if you want something more substantial before you hit the sweets.
2126 Fourth St., White Bear Lake; 651-426-1498; cupandconewbl.com
Grand Ole Creamery
The creamery makes its own super-creamy hard ice cream, and the flavor choices are staggering. They make 200 kinds, and 31 of them are available on any given day.
The Black Hills Gold, with its caramel base, praline pecans and Oreos, is probably the shop’s signature flavor, but there’s enough variety to fulfill any craving.
Get the goods in a cone, cup, sundae, malt or decadent ice cream sandwich. During the summer, a line down the block isn’t unusual, but service is swift and efficient, so don’t let that deter you.
The creamery has also opened a smaller counter in Potluck, the food hall in Rosedale, if you’re shopping and get a hankering. All locations are offering curbside pickup during the pandemic as well.
750 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-293-1655; 4737 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-722-2261; 1595 Minnesota 36, Roseville, 651-340-3978; grandolecreamery.com
Housed in an old Dairy Queen, this West Side neighborhood gem sells soft serve, Blizzard knock-offs, dipped cones and other frozen treats.
Also read: Top Shops for Ice Cream in Minnesota, 2022
But neighbors also know the food here is good. There are thick, juicy burgers; skinny fries; and even tacos and tamales on the menu. The breakfast burrito, served on Saturday mornings when they host a local farmers’ market in the parking lot, is one of our favorite non-sweet treats.
63 W. George St., St. Paul; 651-222-3596
La Michoacana Purépecha
Mexican ice cream shops are still hot, and this spot on St. Paul’s East Side has a menu that includes frozen treats including more than 50 natural, locally made popsicle flavors as well as over 30 ice cream varieties, fruit yogurts and shakes
It’s the third location for owners Ricardo Hernandez and Jazmin Hernández Martinez, who are aiming to re-create the authentic, original experiences of traditional La Michoacana shops in Mexico.
809 E. Seventh St., St. Paul; lamichoacanapurepecha.com
My children were ecstatic to discover this bright, cheery new spot in the seen-better-days Signal Hills strip mall, which is walking distance from our house. I was ecstatic to find that in addition to high-quality hard ice cream and sorbet (with fun flavors like tequila, which of course I tried, and it’s delicious), there are also Mexican popsicles, which are beautiful and refreshing on a hot day. They also sell agua frescas and horchata, the rice-milk concoction that is refreshing on its own, but also great when mixed with a high-quality rum at home (you’re welcome).
There are several Twin Cities locations, including one on Cesar Chavez on St. Paul’s West Side.
1201 S. Robert St., West St. Paul, 651-340-2842; facebook.com/micholovemn
MN Nice Cream
MN Nice Cream started as a food truck, but in just a few years has grown to two bricks-and-mortar locations. The made-for-Instagram soft-serve cones topped with everything from berries to candy, cereal to popcorn, generally topped with a poof of edible glitter, are worth a visit.
807 Broadway St. N.E., No. 102, Minneapolis; 308 E. Chestnut St., Stillwater; mnnicecream.com
From the owners of Nelson’s in Stillwater (see below) this ice-cream-sandwich-focused shop has taken up residence in the former Izzy’s space on Marshall Avenue. As with Nelson’s, the portions are ridiculously large, but the sandwiches are made to order with some really good cookies. The whole thing is heated in a press, which is a neat trick that gives you that fresh-from-the-oven cookie taste without melting the ice cream, and then optionally rolled in chocolate chips or crushed Oreos.
If you order a cup of ice cream, which is seriously four or more scoops for the smallest one, you get a cookie with it. Whatever you do, go hungry.
2034 Marshall Ave., St. Paul; 651-645-7839; nelliesicecream.com
The Stillwater location of this shop has been open for nearly 100 years, and it’s easy to see why. The portions of high-quality ice cream (they serve Cedar Crest and Kemps) are ungodly. A child-sized serving is nearly as big as said child’s head and costs just $4.
They claim to serve the biggest portions in a five-state area, and I have no doubt that’s true.
There are plenty of flavor options to please everyone. Just remember to arrive hungry.
920 W. Olive St. W., Stillwater; 651-430-1103; 454 Snelling Ave. S., St. Paul; 651-348-8990; nelsonsicecream.biz
* Purple Ice Cream
The latest in the Instagrammable set, Purple Ice Cream took over the former Sweet Science counter (they now have a standalone location in Edina) in Keg and Case West 7th Market. They are serving Blue Bunny ice cream with one house-made flavor featured each week. The menu includes shareable sundaes (even my giant and always-hungry teen boy couldn’t finish one), adult floats, cups, cones and ice cream sandwiches. The set sundae flavors have wacky names like Willy’s Magical Ride, which is a combo of mint chocolate chip, cookie dough, cheesecake and cotton candy ice cream with drizzles of fudge and caramel, a smattering of crushed candy that my son said “looks like the bottom of the pillowcase after Halloween,” and whipped cream.
Adult floats include ingredients like peanut butter whiskey, Rumchata, champagne and red wine.
And there’s a special purple area set up with photo lighting so you can get that perfect shot.
St. Paul Corner Drug
It’s a St. Paul rite of passage to sit at the counter of this old-fashioned soda fountain. There’s also a walk-up window where you can take your malt, shake, soda, float or hard ice cream (they serve Kemps) to go.
240 S. Snelling Ave., St. Paul; 651-698-8859; stpaulcornerdrug.com
* Seventh Street Parlor
This spot, which is in the former Hot City space on West Seventh Street, is serving some seriously good hoagies along with Bridgeman’s Ice Cream. We popped in, ordered some sandwiches, and, while we waited, sampled a cup of banana buttercup, a super banana-forward ice cream with swirls of peanut butter and little chocolate-peanut butter truffles. It ruined my appetite in the best way.
1017 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-690-1893; 7thstreetparlor.com
I have to say, I was a little skeptical about the cereal-in-ice-cream gimmick, but it’s so delicious I can’t argue. Treats has a funky little machine that mixes your favorite cereal flavors into hard ice cream and shoots the treat out into tasty swirls that get topped with all kinds of goodies. These concoctions are not only delicious, but also made for Instagram, so expect to be in line with the teenage crowd, which adores this place. They’ve got hand-whisked matcha drinks and funky, cereal-topped waffles on the menu, too.
770 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-478-4385; treatsmn.com
Wonders Ice Cream
If you haven’t jumped on the Thai rolled ice cream bandwagon yet, Wonders is a great place to start. Watch as employees turn cream into colorful, flavorful rolls of ice cream on a below-freezing griddle, and don’t forget to take a photo for your social media feed.
298 W. University Ave., St. Paul, 651-493-2254; wondersicecream.com
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