Oh, ice cream how do we love you? Let us count the ways. From cone to sundae to shake, you have us under your spell. We love everything about you. For us, you are the song of summer.
The mighty cone
Like the Statue of Liberty’s torch, the quintessential cone gives ice cream a chance to shine on its own — hard ice cream, that is. Plenty of stands scoop out local favorite Perry’s Ice Cream, which always releases its summer flavors just in time to find at stands and in stores. But for our purposes, we focused on places that make their own. The best part about these joints is each sells packed ice cream for home.
Our fave is Lake Effect Artisan Ice Cream (79 Canal St., Lockport and 1900 Hertel Ave., Buffalo). Nothing tastes better after biking the Erie Canal path than a few scoops of their ultra-creamy, flavorful concoctions. Choose from signature flavors, like Silver Cloud Vanilla, Frozen Hot Chocolate or Sponge Candy, or the exotic (when available), like Chai Black Tea. We’re partial to seasonal flavors like Ginger Peach we had last September — and can’t stop dreaming about.
Sweet Jenny’s (56 E. Spring St., Williamsville) makes ice cream, gelato, sorbets and frozen yogurt using a process that prevents air from whipping into the cream. The result? An ultra-rich ice cream. Standard flavors include Orange Chocolate and Peanut Butter. Hundreds of rotating flavors make it more difficult to choose. Dulce De Leche anyone?
While Charlaps dairy is no longer around, one of its best creations remains after 50 years. Based out of Hamburg, Nick Charlap’s (7264 Boston St. Rd and 10 Euclid Ave., Hamburg; 1203 Union Rd., West Seneca; 9049 Erie Rd. (Rt. 5), Angola) creates homemade ice cream that may not be as gourmet as Lake Effect or Sweet Jenny, but is as delicious. One of our favorite stops is at the Angola location in the way home from the beach.
Soft serve sillies
Ice cream makes us giddy, so why not parlay that into a silly place that serves soft serve, starting with De-Dee’s Dairy (8715 Niagara Falls Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY). Around for over 30 years, you can’t beat the sign’s retro charm, which features a patient cow looking down upon De-Dee’s many customers licking away. The portions are huge and the choices are many. They only accept cash, but there’s an ATM on site.
Then there’s a pink cow. At Alden’s Pink Cow (13119 Broadway, Alden) just look for the pink building with the black-and-white roof, pink, black and white picnic tables and, yes, sometimes a visit by the pink cow mascot that just makes us giggle.
Route 20 Ice Cream (2783 Southwestern Blvd., Orchard Park) makes us older folks smile as we recollect the vintage Texaco gas pumps on display. (Sky Chief was the premium, while Fire Chief was super octane.) The stand also hosts hot rod car nights. The fun continues on Friday evenings, when a magician entertains in the antique caboose. He has no compunction telling the wee ones, “I am a magician, not a clown.” Enjoy regular soft serve custards plus seasonal custards like pumpkin.
Green Acres Ice Cream (4357 Broadway, Depew) serves up playfulness, starting with “Glow In The Dark Nights” on Thursdays once school’s out — glow-in-the-dark spoons or bracelets come with each order. Free outdoor movie night and pajama parties happen after July 4 on Wednesdays. Our favorite part is licking a soft serve cone as we watch awkward teens playing miniature golf, pretending they’re not on a date.
More notable soft serve custard stands: Adrian’s Custard & Beef (2335 Grand Island Blvd., Grand Island); Anderson’s Frozen Custard; Custard Corner & Grill (211 Porter Ave., Buffalo); Fran-Ceil Custard (3411 South Park Ave., Blasdell); Hanna’s Frosty Treats (140 Tauton Pl., Buffalo); Hibbard’s Original Frozen Custard (125 Portage Rd., Lewiston); Kone King (865 Center Rd., West Seneca; 117 Hamburg St., East Aurora).
Shake it up. Shake it up.
Our hands-down favorite for shakes is Taffy’s (3261 Orchard Park Rd.). Why? Because there are a zillion flavors, shakes come in black and white patterned cow cups, and you get to hear your name on the loudspeaker when your order is ready. There is nothing more romantic than sitting on Taffy’s iconic wooden swing among blooming zinnias while traffic whizzes by along Route 20. And you can enjoy a hot dog or burger with the shake. Taffy’s has also been around for over 65 years. Do you really need another reason to go?
Frosty’s (5500 Broadway, Lancaster; 2424 George Urban Blvd.) location on Broadway looks like a hobbit house. (It was once the historic Leibler-Rohl gas station, and has earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.) Frosty’s features 75 varieties of shakes, including ones made with real fruit like a Fizzy — a shake made with fruit and sorbet. Note: Frosty’s also sells “The One Pounder,” a whopping 14-inch tall cone that weighs in at one pound.
Get your freak on at Poutine & Cream (1448 Hertel Ave., Buffalo). Where else in the city can you wolf down a Stinger poutine with a Cookie Monster shake? Nowhere. Far be it from us to recommend Poutine & Cream as the indulge-today-after-a-long-night-before remedy. Seasonal selections are offered throughout the year, like fall’s pumpkin spice freak shake with candy corn and a donut.
Unfortunately, grocery shopping is one of the un-fun parts of life, including in summer. We say reward yourself at Whole Foods (3139 Sheridan Dr., Amherst). The Bar 1818 restaurant serves small plates, burgers, salads and shakes. Coffee & Donut, Peanut Butter Pretzel, and Grasshopper are a few. (Avoid the calorie count also printed on the menu.)
A sundae for any day
Are you sitting down? Because you need to be to enjoy a perfect sundae.
For us, Alethea’s (8301 Main St., Williamsville) tops our list for sundaes. The vintage chocolate shop has an ice cream parlor that serves up sundaes made with homemade sauces: chocolate, marshmallow, hot fudge truffle, hot butterscotch and other exclusive flavors, which are available in jars for purchase.
Running a close second is Parkside Candy Co. (3208 Main St., Buffalo). Restored to its 1927 grandeur, the only sundaes to order here are two classics: the hot fudge or, as Parkside notes, “We do a beautiful banana split.”
For a modern sundae twist, we like Churn Soft Serve of Lloyd Taco (1501 Hertel Ave.). Soothe the burn of Lloyd’s Rocket Sauce with a unique sundae that starts with grass fed cow’s milk, no artificial flavors or colors and minimal processing. Churn’s Sundae FUNday menu includes combinations like Shortie Cake, made with seasonal fresh fruit compote, and seasonal selections designed by the in-house pastry chef, like an orange-and-brown sugar spiced cake sundae with orange meringue, orange curd, cinnamon glaze and a bruléed orange slice.
Go for the gusto at King Condrell’s Ice Cream & Candy (2805 Delaware Ave., Kenmore). Home to sundaes with names like “Kitchen Sink” (16 scoops), “Maximum Brain Freeze” (10 scoops) and the “Super Bowl” (five scoops), the concoctions include loads of toppings and homemade whipped cream. Try the “#1 Banana Split” or better yet, the “Fudge + Banana,” which marries two classics: hot fudge and a banana split. Whatever you choose, it might be the closest you come to a Buffalo Super Bowl for a long time. And for the competitors out there, eat the entire Brain Freeze by yourself and the sundae is free — plus you win a T-shirt.
Novelty that never wears off
Jerk’s Soda Fountain (523 Main St., Buffalo) serves real hand-crafted sodas made with syrup and seltzers, “Cremosas,” egg creams and cows (think a float marries milkshake). We could also nominate them for the shake category with their $12 Over-The-Top Shake.
Main St. Ice Cream (35 Main St., Hamburg) makes its own ice cream and extras, like ice cream sandwiches and buster bar knock offs that are better than the DQ version. At Major Cool Off (361 Dingens, Buffalo), the kids can romp and play while you snack on a cotton candy buster bar knockoff and homemade ice cream sandwiches.
Lake Effect Artisan Ice Cream now offers ice cream bars (chocolate chip cookie dough topped with Cookie Crisps!) to go along with their sandwiches and frozen pops. Poutine & Cream’s version of an ice cream sandwich is a “creamy bun,” an ice cream sandwich made with a Freddie’s Famous Doughnut. And for those times you need a quick and easy dessert for a back yard barbecue, both Nick Charlap’s and Anderson’s (various locations for both) make outstanding ice cream sandwiches along with ice cream cakes and pies.