In spite of temperatures that frequently crack the century mark, it is only recently that Las Vegas has started to embrace frozen treats besides Thrifty Ice Cream and Luv-It Frozen Custard. From the Strip to suburbs like Henderson and Summerlin, it seems as though new places are springing up all the time, with everything from rolled concoctions to fro-yo finding an audience. Whether served on a cone or in a bowl, as a concrete or a milkshake, what follows is a list of the six best spots in town to cool off with something sweet.
When Vegas native Chef James Trees opened his follow-up to Esther’s Kitchen inside Tivoli Village, it was with a promise of “Best Ice Cream,” and since June 1st Chef de Cuisine Dylan Jobsz has been serving precisely that alongside pizza, pasta and salad. Immediately a top destination in Summerlin, guests can already be found lining up at Ada’s for cones or cups of flavors including Peach & Ricotta or NY Blueberry Cheesecake. Those in the know, though, will quickly realize a sundae with housemade toppings is where the real magic is found. Sharable for a couple, or indulgent for one, choices including the campfire sundae with a brownie and toasted marshmallows are guaranteed to please. But the Spumoni – which utilizes homemade toppings like boozy cherries, dark chocolate fudge and a gluten-free pistachio cone – is the real standout.
Although the burgers and beer that make up two-thirds of bbD’s acronym get most of the attention, Ralph Perrazzo knows a thing or two about dessert. A former Chef at Bradley Ogden who has also spent time at the Michelin-starred Jean-Georges in Manhattan, it should come as no surprise that Perrazzo takes no shortcuts when crafting soft serve custard or scoops of ice cream at Palace Station. Using the latter as toppings to items such as housemade cinnamon rolls and bread pudding, those seeking something really special should not pass on one of Perazzo’s super creamy milkshakes. Offered with or without alcohol, both equally impressive, options change frequently. However, fans of fruit will be particularly impressed by both bananas foster or strawberry that taste as fresh as a berry straight from the field.
Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer
Taking a completely different approach to milkshakes, Black Tap at The Venetian goes all-in with their “Crazy Shakes.” Born in New York and now greeting Las Vegas visitors for nearly a year and a half, the Black Tap experience intends to overwhelm the senses. In a similar fashion, each dessert prepared at the restaurant’s center overflows its cup with candies, sprinkles, frosting and even a whole slice of cake. Cleverly concocted and often featuring specials, each shake begins with creamy soft serve before adding an array of toppings. From the Sweet N’ Salty, featuring a peanut butter base and affixed peanut butter cups, to Strawberry, complete with cotton candy and lollipops, it would be tough to decide which is most audacious. In terms of taste, however, it would be hard to say any is more delicious than the all new one offering churros, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and a Choco Taco.
CJ’s Italian Ice & Custard
A favorite of the west side since early 2012, CJ’s has only recently begun to expand its brand. Owned and operated by Ohio State alumnus Jon Goldberg, fans of the spot on South Durango will notice recent updates, both inside the store and to products themselves. Flavors such as Swedish Fish and Chamango now join classics that are offered both with and without dairy. Upping the ante with designer cones, plus a variety of unique toppings, take a gander at @cjsitalianiceandcustard on social media for specials, and be sure to visit with a sense of adventure.
Gelato di Milano
True to its name, as ownership does indeed hail from the European fashion capital, this shop on South Rainbow Boulevard is all about authenticity. Reportedly making everything (including the base) on-site, and offering about twenty flavors daily, Gelato di Milano invites anyone wanting to understand what real gelato is all about to stop in and taste the fior di latte, which is clean, milky and fresh, with only a touch of added sweetness. A bargain for such a high-quality product, with fresh ingredients found in each flavor, what is “best” really comes down to a matter of personal preference. But between the all-natural pistachio, dark chocolate sorbetto and tiramisu perfumed by cinnamon, there is not a bad choice to be found.
Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt
Another ice cream shop with Ohio roots, Handel’s brings Youngstown’s favorite brand to Las Vegas’ west side, and has had guests lining up since day one. Born in 1945, and slow-churning flavors on-site at each and every shop, patrons visiting the corner of Hualapai and Tropicana will find upwards of fifty flavors available daily at prices far lower than many others in town. Handel’s offers take-out only, and keeps crowds moving with several windows plus pleasant staff. Those looking to beat the heat will be wise to taste ice cream, yogurt, sherbet and ices prior to ordering. From cones and cups to pints and pops, savvy patrons will keep eyes peeled for specials featuring caramel, though Buckeye and Graham Central Station are signatures for a reason.