Arizona has made it through June and July but the summer heat has a bit longer until it lets us go (October I see you). The dog days of summer in Phoenix are the perfect excuse for cold, creamy, dripping-down-the-sides-of-a-cone ice cream. It brings out the child in each of us and just crossing paths with an ice cream shop can send taste buds dancing in anticipation. During these last hot days, head to one of these local shops that I love for some yummy cool treats!
Wimpy’s Paradise, Chandler
Wimpy’s Paradise is one of downtown Chandler’s favorite spots—and the perfect place to get a cool cone of ice cream, a hot fudge sundae or even a malt.
Owner Randy Walters opened Wimpy’s Paradise in honor of his father and Mr. Walters would be proud. Randy serves Thrifty ice cream at Wimpy’s and tops it with homemade toppings. The hot fudge is creamy and oh-so-chocolately. There is a buttermilk caramel sauce to die for. The vanilla malts have just the right amount of malt—and happen to be a particular source of craving for WanderWithWonder.com's Susan Lanier-Graham.
Of course, if you arrive at Wimpy’s with a big appetite, you can order a burger or one of the famous Pittsburgh Willy’s Gourmet Hot Dogs.
What’s better than a hot dog, vanilla malt and a sundae on a hot summer night?
48 S. San Marcos Place, Chandler
Mary Coyle has been a Phoenix institution since 1951 and generations of Phoenicians have grown up eating this home-churned ice cream. Recently moved from its original location, you can still find this Phoenix tradition while cruising down 7th Street (just south of Bethany Home Road).
Mary Coyle’s has the traditional ice cream flavors served up in a cone or a waffle bowl (think vanilla, chocolate, rocky road, cookies ‘n cream and mint chocolate chip) with an assortment of toppings. They also offer seasonal favorites (you have to try the fresh peach available during July and August).
However, locals will tell you about their favorite concoctions that the establishment is famous for, like Almond Joy “Some Like a Nut” with ice cream, marshmallow topping, chocolate syrup and almonds. For the truly adventurous go for “The Hill” with four full pounds of ice cream and all the toppings or “The Grand Canyon” with eleven pounds of ice cream, six toppings, nuts and whipped cream. I don't recommend ordering these by yourself, but they've been perfect for our family when we head out for an ice cream night with the grandparents.
5823 N 7th St, Phoenix
For anyone who’s ever visited Old Town Scottsdale—at least since 1958—Sugar Bowl is an icon. You can’t miss the pink building on Scottsdale Road, or the lovely aroma that beckons from a good block away.
For those old enough to remember Bil Keane’s Family Circus cartoon strip, Sugar Bowl was featured many times over the years by the local cartoonist. The ice cream is creamy and cold and there’s something special about the pink chairs and checkerboard floor. You can almost smell the sugar and cream when you walk in the door. Also, be on the lookout for local celebrities!
4005 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Churn, on Central Avenue just north of Camelback Road, is not just about great ice cream, but also about family. Churn, a retro-fun eatery, has assorted drinks, housemade pastries and cookies, a selection of throwback candies, milkshakes, floats—and most importantly ice cream.
Of course, Churn has its own version of the basics, including Madagascar vanilla, double chocolate, butter pecan, Vietnamese coffee, and banana, but they also have a selection of whimsical options. How about whiskey toffee almond, peanut butter & jelly or grape bubblegum? And be sure to check out the floats and sundaes. How about the Oh My! Affogato with coffee and vanilla ice cream, double shot espresso and Mexican Coca-Cola. Oh my is right.
Churn doesn’t use any chemical additives, preservatives or fillers; everything is all natural and made fresh. I recommend the homemade ice cream cookie sandwich. You pick your favorite ice cream and sandwich it between two cookies of your choice, such as chocolate crinkle, coconut macaroon, red velvet, snickerdoodle—or of course, chocolate chip.
Churn always has something new happening with its flavor of the month. Be prepared for a line but remember the line is there because Churn is worth the wait! After picking up your treat, walk to the back patio to enjoy some laughter and don’t forget to check out the wall of cassettes!
5223 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix
What’s the difference?
Ice cream? Sorbet? Gelato? Custard? Yogurt? Before heading off to the local ice cream parlor, it’s important to know what you want—and what to expect.
- Ice cream is frozen milk and cream that can contain fruits, flavorings and sugar. Ice cream is mixed and then stirred slowly while it cools to eliminate the formation of large ice crystals. Ice cream has a smooth texture with rich flavor.
- Frozen custard is a dense Coney Island dessert creation from 1919, created by adding egg yolks to ice cream. Frozen custard is colder and smoother than ice cream.
- Frozen yogurt (or frozen yoghurt) is a frozen treat made from yogurt and milk—not cream. It is a tart treat and lower in fat than regular ice cream.
- Sorbet, which is not Italian ice—nor is it the same as sherbet—may contain alcohol. The frozen treat doesn’t have air whipped in, creating a denser product. Sorbet usually has little or no fat.
- Sherbet is an American frozen dessert that is similar to sorbet but with a small amount of milk fat.
- Italian ice is similar to sorbet, made with fruit juices or purées, but does not contain dairy or egg yolks. Popular flavors include blue raspberry, lemon, and watermelon.
- Gelato is Italian for ice cream and dates back to ancient Rome. It has a richer taste than American ice cream. Gelato varies widely, especially when recreated in the U.S. It usually has 16 to 24% sugar (compared to 12 to 16% sugar in ice cream). There is a stabilizer, such as egg yolks and non-fat milk solids. A bit stricter than in the U.S., Italy requires gelato to have least 3.5% butterfat, with no upper limit.