It takes more than a single scoop of ice cream to handle summer in Charlotte, people. In summer, you need to reach for the really cool ice cream creations.
Hum a few bars of Louis Prima’s classic “Banana Split For My Baby” and consider this cold truth: A great ice cream creation is good even when it starts to melt.
Using your suggestions and a few of our own, we searched out a dozen great ice cream creations:
Tony’s Ice Cream, Gastonia
A classic since 1947, right down to the red vinyl booths and tables. With its own ice cream plant across the street, the long list of flavors makes it had to pick. Here’s what we’d do:
1. Banana Split. A pile of banana slices on the bottom, large scoops of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream, a landslide of candied walnuts and pineapple sauce, chocolate syrup, whipped cream and a cherry. Even as it melts, it forms a soup of sweet flavor. $5.25.
2. Milkshakes. The pro move: They blend milk and ice cream in a tall cup, then top it with a final scoop. For flavors, consider two that are hard to find elsewhere. Vivid black cherry has chunks of cherries, and black walnut is an old-time Southern flavor that has almost disappeared. Black walnuts have a creamy flavor that’s amazing in a milkshake. $4.25.
In a small strip mall on North Tryon near the bakery Panaderia Odalys (there’s also a location at 6300 South Blvd.), look for windows covered with brightly colored ice cream pictures. The flavor selection includes tropical fruits like mamey, guanabana, nance and mango and traditional flavors like cajeta (goat’s milk caramel) and gansito (chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, based on a snack cake that’s Mexico’s answer to the Twinkie). Our picks:
3. Las Tres Marias. Three scoops of ice cream (may we suggest cajeta, rum raisin and nuez, or nut) in a waffle-cone bowl, topped with chocolate-shell coating, whipped cream, sprinkles, strawberry wedges and a cherry. Definitely a two-spoon job. $8.50.
4. Mangonada. Not for the timid, but we’re addicted: A cup of dense, frozen mango layered with dark red chamoy, a pickled fruit sauce that’s sweet and salty, and sprinkled with chile powder. The first bite is tart enough to make your eyelids flutter, but it grows on you: hot and cold, sweet and salty, tart and fruity. $5.50.
Pike’s Old-Fashioned Soda Shop
The ice cream classic capital of Charlotte, with a menu of things like phosphates, floats and sundaes.
5. Black Cow. Why has this almost disappeared? Scoops of vanilla ice cream layered with root beer syrup and topped with soda water. It’s fizzy, creamy and very root beery. $4.75.
Waxhaw: Rippington’s and Waxhaw Creamery
Waxhaw’s little downtown along the railroad tracks is built for strolling. Two stops for when you need to cool off:
6. Hot fudge sundae at Waxhaw Creamery. It only has three ingredients, but they make all three count: Vanilla ice cream that’s so vanilla, it’s tan. Hot fudge just warm enough to melt it a little. And real-cream whipped cream. $4.75.
7. Ice cream pie. Rippington’s single slice is massive, on a plate decorated with loops of butterscotch and chocolate sauces. Reading from bottom to top: crushed Oreo crust, a slab of chocolate ice cream, fudge, a slab of mocha ice cream, fudge, a slab of vanilla ice cream and drizzles of mocha whipped icing. Forget two forks – get four. It takes two hands to tackle it. $7.95.
Sticks & Cones
Ice cream food trucks are popping up. Find Sticks & Cones at Plaza-Midwood’s Food Truck Fridays, on Central Avenue near The Plaza. It has plenty of soft-serve swirl for the kiddies and unusual sundaes for more mature tastes.
8. Aladdin’s Delight. Soft-serve vanilla drizzled with tart pomegranate molasses and a big handful of shelled pistachios. Sweet, crunchy, tart and just a hint of salty. $5.75.
Ten Park Lanes
Montford Drive fans know the bowling alley has a menu of fun food, much of it in mason jars.
9. The Lane Buster. A mason jar rolled in chocolate sauce and chopped peanuts (yes, on the outside). On the inside: Layers of warm brownie, chocolate syrup and ice cream, topped with whipped topping and more chocolate syrup. Definitely for digging in. $6.
Good Food On Montford
The small-plates menu is sophisticated, but there’s a child-like wonder when you get to dessert.
10. Brownie and Biscoff Ice Cream. The crispy Belgian cookies (technically called speculoos) found a cult following on Delta Airlines. This plate rolls in Biscoff love: a chocolate outline sprinkled with crumbled Biscoff cookies, a smear of Biscoff spread (like peanut butter without the peanuts), a ball of Biscoff ice cream and a warm brownie. Did we mention that the brownie is studded with chocolate chips? $7.
Two more, because we couldn’t stop:
Trio’s Almond Basket: A lacy tuile cup of almonds and sesame seeds, filled with mocha pecan ice cream, on a spiderweb of sauces (creme anglaise, chocolate and butterscotch). $4.75.
204 North’s Sorghum Sticky Bun With Rye Whiskey Ice Cream: Have it with a short pour of Alberta Rye and toddle off to bed. $9.
Where they are
- Tony’s Ice Cream, 604 E. Franklin Blvd., Gastonia, 704-867-7085. 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily, 10 a.m-10 p.m. Sunday.
- La Michoacana Palateria, 6301 N. Tryon St., 704-503-9493. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
- Pike’s Old-Fashioned Soda Shop, 1930 Camden Road, 704-372-0092. 11 a.m.-9 or 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday.
- Waxhaw Creamery, 201 W. South Main St., Waxhaw, 704-843-7927. Noon-9 or 10 p.m. daily.
- Rippington’s, 109 W. South Main St., Waxhaw, 704-843-4806. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. Sunday.
- Sticks & Cones, www.sticksandconesicecream.com. Locations vary.
- Ten Park Lanes, 1700 Montford Drive, 704-523-7633. 9 a.m.-12 a.m. or 2 a.m. daily, noon-12 a.m. Sunday.
- Good Food on Montford, 1701 Montford Drive, 704-525-0881. 5:30-10 or 11 p.m. Monday-Saturday, closed Sunday.
- Trio, 10709 McMullen Creek Parkway, 704-541-8000. 11 a.m.-9 or 10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
- 204 North, 204 N. Tryon St., 704-333-3747. 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Saturday, 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Sunday.