Growing up in the second half of an earlier millennia, the lilting jingle-jangle chimes of an ice cream truck was my soundtrack to summer. The common Fudgsicle had the power to induce a Pavlovian response in any young child. Buying a red, white, and blue Bomb Pop was an act of patriotism. The chocolaty/nutty Drumstick was considered the pinnacle of atomic age engineering. But ice cream no longer comes right to our doorstep as much as it once did, so let’s point you to where you’ll find the most tempting opportunities for a hurts-so-good brain freeze treat.
– 610 N. 12th St. (inside Blatt Beer & Table)
– 8608 N. 30th St.
– 7130 N. 102nd Circle
– 1317 S. 204th St. (Elkhorn)
Generations of college baseball fans have made the pilgrimage to Omaha for the NCAA College World Series, and no sojourn to TD Ameritrade Park would be complete without a visit to the mecca that is Zesto. The seasonal location that operates from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the one so often name-dropped by ESPN announcers, is co-located with Beer Blatt & Table just a Texas League single from the ballpark, but be sure to also check out the other locations, especially the frozen-in-time, throwback shop on North 30th Street.
– 5001 Underwood Ave.
Zesto may get lots of love from ESPN, but Dundee’s eCreamery has been heralded by…well, just about everyone else. From all the big morning shows to the New York Times to Shark Tank to such celebrity clients as Oprah, Taylor Swift, and Sir Paul McCartney, eCreamery is a darling of the ice cream world. Think you have what it takes to design your own blend? Give it a shot, but just know you’ll be up against some pretty stiff competition, including flavors from their collaboration with celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse.
Neveria y Paleteria La Michoacana
– 4002 S. 24th St.
– 4924 S. 24th St.
Do monarch butterflies like ice cream? If so, they’d flock to South Omaha’s Neveria y Paleteria La Michoacana. That’s where they’d find the same sweet nectar flavors as those of their winter grounds in the Mexican state of Michoacán, the shop’s namesake. In flavors from guava to passion fruit to piña colada—even exotic tamarind—only the freshest real fruits are used in these delicacies that are also distributed through Guerrero Grocery and about 20 convenience stores across a broad southern swath of the city.
Jones Bros. Cupcakes
– Aksarben Village, 2121 S. 67th St.
– Westroads Mall, 10000 California St.
– 2615 S. 180th St.
August’s Maha Music Festival will rattle the glass of the windows across the street at Jones Bros. Cupcakes in Aksarben Village, but all will be serene inside, thanks to the calming, Zen-like powers of a scoop of ice cream floating in a Bursting Boba Tea, a popular summer selection from the folks who have made three appearances—and taken home one win—on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Or try one of their couture shakes and malts. Maybe the Salted Caramel Explosion with its combination of chocolate-covered potato chips, sweet and salty cupcake, and salted caramel brownie?
– 5914 Center St.
Petrow’s isn’t your granddad’s ice…no, wait…Petrow’s is, in fact, your grandad’s ice cream. And your great-grandad’s. While the iconic family restaurant has occupied the same plot of land on the corner of 60th and Center streets since 1950, the Petrow name is associated with a continuous stream of Nebraska ice cream history that can be traced all the way back to the Fremont Candy Kitchen, which was established in 1903. Not many places can boast a 115-year-old recipe, but maybe that’s why their famed, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink clown sundae remains popular to this day.
Eileen’s Colossal Cookies
– 1024 S. 74th Plaza
– 210 S. 16th St. (inside Brandeis Building)
One of the few places on our list that does not make its own ice cream, Eileen’s is still worthy of a mention for their amazing ice cream sandwiches. With usually something like nine flavors of ice cream and about 13 flavors of cookies from which to choose, the possibilities for tasty combinations in building your own ice cream sandwich are almost endless. (Available only at the two locations listed above.)
– Aksarben Village, 1918 S. 67th St.
Watching the crew work at Omaha’s newest ice cream place is part middle school science fair and part Japanese steakhouse acrobatics. To create their Thai rolled ice cream, a viscous glob of semi-liquid ingredients is plopped onto a frozen disc the size of a pizza pan. The mix sets up as it is chopped, kneaded, and otherwise manhandled before being smoothed out into a crepe-thin layer that freezes in a matter of moments. Using a deft hand and what looks to be a broad-bladed drywall knife, the ice cream is then gently scraped off the disc in a way that forms perfectly coiled spirals of Thai yumminess.
– Old Market, 1003 Howard St.
Dolci gets a nod for sheer ingenuity. Check out their fanciful Spaghetti and Sweet Balls sundae, where vanilla soft serve is extruded through a ricer to form a bowl of ice cream noodles. Add a few oatmeal peanut butter meatballs and a marinara of strawberry sauce topped with a grated, white chocolate topping in lieu of Parmesan cheese. Surely one of the Old Market’s funkier concoctions.
Ted & Wally’s
– Old Market, 1120 Jackson St.
– Benson, 6023 Maple St.
With a recipe that includes 20 percent butterfat, Ted & Wally’s, a local pioneer in upscale ice cream, lays claim to being the area’s only “super premium” product as defined by industry standards. And it’s all churned out in century-old White Mountain freezing machines. Both businesses operate out of equally antique, converted filling stations. The original location is an Old Market fixture, and the newer shop in the beard-and-beer borough of Benson has served to expand the reach of one of the city’s favorite brands.
Helados Santa Fe
– 4807 S. 24th St.
The only thing more colorful than the annual Cinco de Mayo parade that passes its front door is the collection of popsicles in the huge freezer case that welcomes you to Helados Santa Fe in the heart of South Omaha. In an array of hues straight out of Andy Warhol’s color palette from his Marilyn Monroe series, you’ll find such ice cream curiosities as cheese, Mexican bread, and avocado. And ice cream infused with hot chili peppers? Yeah, it’s a thing.
– Blackstone District, 3921 Farnam St.
The “Farm to Cone” tagline says it all at the shop in the resurgent, hot-hot-hot Blackstone District. Using a network of local partners from fruit and vegetable growers to dairies, coffee roasters, and locally made root beer—even the sprinkles are made in-house—Coneflower Creamery is committed to supporting local producers while delivering only the freshest of ingredients in a menu that changes with the growing seasons. A chef-driven philosophy is behind the quest for flavors not normally associated with ice cream. Basil? Saffron? Ginger? Turmeric? Yes, please!
Additional Metro Area Shops
– Dairy Chef (3223 N. 204th St., Elkhorn)
– Dairy Twist (2211 Lincoln Road, Bellevue)
– 80’s Snack Shack (4733 Giles Road, Bellevue)
– Tastee Treet (13996 Wabash Ave., Council Bluffs)
– Christy Creme (2853 N. Broadway, Council Bluffs)
– Doozies (321 Comanche St., Council Bluffs)
Have we neglected any local ice cream shops? Let us know on social media at @omahamagazine.
This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.