There are few things more satisfying than a cool, creamy ice cream on a hot, humid day in Chicago. So, when any old scoop just won’t do, head to one of the Windy City’s top spots for gourmet, chef-driven treats.
The Langham, Chicago
Possibly the most sophisticated (and easily the most grown-up) ice cream sundaes in all of Chicago can be found inside this hotel’s stunning lobby on the Chicago River. From 6 to 10 p.m. daily, the lobby transforms into Parlour at the Pavilion, an adults-only ice cream spot serving spiked floats, sundaes and housemade sorbets. Staff is dressed in vintage-inspired uniforms and the space takes on the feel of a retro-chic sweets shop. Menu items include decadent treats with buzz-inducing ingredients — The Aviator sundae, for example, is made with gin, crème de violette, Luxardo Maraschino, lemon sorbet, burgundy cherry ice cream, violet ice cream, candied violet petals, amarena cherries, candied lemon peel and whipped cream.
Black Dog Gelato
Gelato is made fresh daily in small batches at this indie shop’s two locations, one in Ukrainian Village and the other in Roscoe Village. It may be a bit off the beaten tourist path, but this cult favorite is worth an Uber ride to experience (or have it delivered to your hotel room). Unique artisan flavors like goat cheese cashew caramel, blackberry French toast, and cucumber rosewater sorbet are available on a rotating basis.
Park Hyatt Chicago
On the seventh floor of this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel sits NoMI Kitchen, a relaxed but elegant restaurant serving up refined American fare with a side of stellar views of Michigan Avenue and beyond. While starters and entrées are a delight here, it’s the last course that really stands out. Ice cream is an especially sophisticated, beautifully plated affair. Housemade ice cream flavors include salted pistachio and triple vanilla goat milk; rich in-house sorbets come in the form of shiso, blackberry lemonade and huckleberry. Insider tip: Order a bowl in the lounge area, so you can curl up on the comfy sofas and enjoy the vistas below.
David Burke’s Primehouse
You’ll never settle for a simple root beer float again. An ice-cream pop-up at this restaurant inside The James Chicago serves artisan ice cream floats every Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. Pastry chef Amanda Warren is always conceiving new flavors, but previous iterations have included the Orange Creamsicle, made with candied orange ice cream, orange cream soda, whipped cream and a garnish of candied orange; and the Red, White and Blueberry, a tasty number made with lemon granité, blueberry compote, strawberry sorbet, berry lemonade soda and strawberry whipped cream. Bonus: This River North hot spot is in an ideal location to take a breather from the incredible (but often exhausting) shopping around the Magnificent Mile sitting just a couple of blocks away.