Sunday July 16th was National Ice Cream Day! How did I celebrate? By rounding up a bunch of friends and organizing a Chicago vegan ice cream crawl! When organizing the event, I considered the following criteria: Did it have a Divvy stop (Chicago bikeshare company) near by? Did it have a plant-based option? Was it somewhere that hadn’t previously been featured on an ice cream crawl? How much biking would be involved? In all, we went to 4 amazing places and had a blast!
Gordo’s Ice Cream – Edgewater
1120 W Granville Ave, Chicago IL
First stop on the ice cream crawl: Gordo’s in Edgewater. They are a gourmet paleta place, tucked under the red line stop. Paletas = popsicles in Spanish. The premise of this ice cream shop is you choose your paleta, then can get it dipped in various types of chocolate, and finally you can roll it in different toppings.
I went with a dairy-free hibiscus tea paleta dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in pistachios. HEAVENLY.
We ate our dessert creations out on their patio where Kevin had fun trying on Gordo capes (he ended up buying the purple one after much debate). The owner was very welcoming and happy to answer all of our questions. Between the unique paleta options and the cute charm, I loved this place and will definitely be back! After devouring our paleta provisions, we rode a little over 3 miles to our next ice cream destination.
Cookie Spin – Lincoln Square
4350 N Leavitt St., Chicago, IL
Cookie Spin opened up this location in Lincoln Square last November; previously they just did event catering. The idea here is you can get ice cream plain in a dish or cone, or top a cookie with scoops to create the ultimate ice cream cookie sundae bonanza!
They use Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream from Madison (Go Badgers!) and always have some soy-based options. They also have almond milk so you can make a vegan milkshake! At first I was worried because I didn’t see any vegan ice cream in the front case, but they keep the vegan option in the back freezer. I ordered cup of the Vanilla Chocolate Chip Soy-Cream.
We took over their patio area to enjoy our cookie creations. The owner even came out to say hello and snapped a picture of us for their Instagram page. Our group had grown quite a bit since the first stop!
I appreciated that they always have a vegan ice cream option on hand, and hope that they can also have a vegan baked good in the future. After successfully satisfying our soy-cream sweet tooth, we rode south for about 4.5 miles to the third stop on the crawl.
Black Dog Gelato – Wicker Park
859 N Damen, Chicago, IL
You can’t have an ice cream crawl without gelato! Black Dog Gelato is unique in that all the batches are made daily and the flavor combinations are inventive and delicious. They have interesting gelato and sorbet options.
I had the Cherry Rootbeer Sorbet and it tasted EXACTLY like rootbeer, I couldn’t believe it! I also tasted the blood orange and it was tangy and sweet.
Everyone seemed to really enjoy their gelato here. Black Dog is a small shop, with just a few benches outside. It’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it! It is cash only, so be prepared, but there’s an ATM inside in case you forget. After our gelato gluttony, we rode 3ish miles to the last stop on the tour.
Annette’s Italian Ice – Lincoln Park
924 W Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL
We ended at Annette’s Italian Ice. It’s a charming little ice cream shoppe with an adorable walk-up window in the heart of Lincoln Park. They have a variety of dairy-free Italian ices as well as ice cream and frozen yogurt. They have a white board outside where they list all the flavors of Italian ice, ice cream, froyo and toppings.
In celebration of National Ice Cream Day, they had a blueberry lemon Italian Ice. I had never tried Italian ice before; it melts in your mouth and reminds me of Sno-cones, but its way softer and tastier. The blueberry lemon was tart, tangy, and light, the perfect way to end my vegan ice cream crawl.
Our group all indulged on Italian Ice. We took over one section of their sidewalk patio and overflowed onto the street. A wonderful end to a delicious day.
Overall, I’d say that this Chicago vegan ice cream crawl was a smashing success. Each place offered a different type of ice cream: paletas, ice cream cookie sundaes, gelato and Italian ice. It was a fantastic way to spend a Sunday with friends. I had never before been to any of the shops, but I will definitely be returning! I was so happy to see so many different plant-based options. If anyone wants to do another Chicago ice cream crawl I would be happy to join!
What are your favorite Chicago ice cream spots? Let me know in the comments below!
Happy biking and vegan ice cream crawling,