We all scream for ice cream (or snow cones), especially in the wake of the summertime sun. So we’ve got the scoop on the hottest spots to cool down in North Texas this summer. We’ve rounded up the best in traditional, trendy, new and even dairy-free, whether you’re eager to sample the latest science experiment (we’re looking at you, liquid nitrogen) or you want to share snow cones at an old-school diner.
This Thai-inspired rolls out some of the best creamy confections in Dallas … literally. For an experience your kiddos can watch from start to finish, hop in line at the Deep Ellum storefront. The made-to-order treat (that means no added preservatives or stabilizers) starts as a liquid custard base poured onto the freezing metal countertop, where mix-ins like strawberries, pretzels and Oreos are added. Then, the employee will write your child’s name in chocolate or caramel sauce across the thinly spread mixture before using a spatula to pry the ice cream off the counter in rolls (think scrolls, not scoops). Yeah, it’s pretty cool.
2646 Elm St., Dallas; 469/687-6797
118 E. Rusk St., Rockwall; 469/769-1345
Don’t let the digs fool you: Cow Tipping Creamery, the bright blue food truck permanently stationed in downtown Carrollton, serves up nothing less than gourmet confections. The stacker, their version of a sundae, layers homemade toppings (we’re talking Funfetti cake chunks, caramelized bananas, brown sugar hot fudge and more) between ribbons of soft serve like a parfait. Choose your own flavor combo, or pick from tried-and-true menu items like Death by Chocolate or Gimmie S’more.
1309 S. Broadway St., Carrollton; 512/904-0033
3685 The Star Blvd., Suite 201, Frisco; 214/430-5227
Thanks to liquid nitrogen, the ice cream at iCream Café is extra-smooth; turns out, fast-freezing cream at minus 320 degrees creates smaller crystals. And it’s allergy-friendly too, made to order with regular, nonfat, soy, almond or coconut milk. After selecting a milk base, your kiddo can choose the flavor (offerings include vanilla, chocolate and cream soda), the mix-ins (Nutella is the most popular), and the color (yes, he can make purple chocolate ice cream) and then watch as the concoction is whisked together in a fog of liquid nitrogen. Flavor combos seem infinite, but if you’re looking for a suggestion, the PBOMG — vanilla with peanut butter, cream cheese and graham cracker — is the owner’s favorite.
9250 Dallas Parkway, Suite 150, Frisco; 214/618-2343
For a scoop (or two, or three) of homemade ice cream that’s also good for the community, stop by Howdy Homemade, where you’ll find a welcoming “HOWDY” sign on the wall and friendly service from employees with special needs. Classic flavors such as peanut butter chocolate, orange cream pop and nondairy sorbet come in a cone or cup with your choice of toppings. If you’re feeling adventurous, order the shop’s famous Dr Pepper Chocolate Chip. (We won’t tell you what to order, but you should know that the Dr Pepper Chocolate Chip is so beloved that it has a booth at the State Fair — high praise in the world of Dallas eats.)
4333 Lovers Lane, Dallas; 469/930-8494
Sno Gourmet uses natural ingredients to craft some of their flavors, so you don’t need to stress about synthetic dyes in your kids’ shaved ice. Select from over 50 flavors and 20 toppings ranging from chopped strawberries to Sour Patch Kids, then enjoy your treats indoors at a red vinyl booth. Need a recommendation? Your kids will love the rainbow, an explosion of colors and flavors that will definitely dye their tongues. For Mom, we like the mango chamoyada, which comes with fresh fruit and a hit of chili pepper on top — it’s the perfect balance of sweet and spicy.
10455 N. Central Expressway Suite #102, Dallas; 214/265-5550
At Curly’s Frozen Custard, an old-fashioned Fort Worth staple, take your pick from classic custard, handmade pops, specialty sundaes and concretes (think Blizzard, but extra-thick) and enjoy your sweet treats at a shady outdoor picnic table. Custard flavors are basic (chocolate, vanilla, lemon and the flavor of the month), but you can choose from a myriad of toppings, including marshmallows, Butterfinger, blueberries, granola and more. If you’re feeling indecisive, order a tried-and-true combination such as the fruity Bananarama specialty concrete or Oreo Brownie Deluxe specialty sundae. Or go dairy-free with a cherry limeade pop made from fresh fruit.
4017 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth; 817/763-8700
Head to HipPop for all-natural, fruit-based pops such as strawberry basil and milk-based flavors like toasted marshmallow — all made with filtered water, organic sugar and fruit juice. If you’re on the go, grab a mango slush for your little, and add in sweetened condensed milk or raspberry puree. And don’t worry about a sea of synthetic dyes in your child’s snow cone: In addition to traditional Hawaiian shaved ice, HipPop offers natural shaved ice flavored with real fruit puree and even ice cream add-ins — it’s everything good about summer in one bite.
520 S. Main St., Suite 2015, Grapevine; 817/527-4383
For made-from-scratch, melt-in-your-mouth scoops (including dairy-free flavors), hit up Melt Ice Creams, which just celebrated its third birthday in April. The black-and-white striped shop serves up everyday favorites such as Chocolate-Chocolate and Velvet Vegan, plus flavors like peach and coffee from a rotating menu that changes every six weeks. Plan a visit for Taco Tuesdays to get two scoops of ice cream nestled in a taco-shaped waffle cone and topped with whipped cream or housemade chocolate and caramel sauce. Don’t leave without snapping an Instagram-worthy shot of your sticky (but adorable) kiddos in front of the yellow accent wall.
405 North Bishop Ave., Dallas; 214/432-0183
1201 W. Magnolia Ave., Suite 115, Fort Worth; 817/886-8365
The Southlake location of Steel City Pops boasts a mural of the Southlake skyline, plus the all-natural gourmet pops we’ve come to love. Pop in for a handmade blackberry or peanut butter pop, sans artificial colors or flavors, and for an extra dose of deliciousness, dip, drizzle or drench your pop in a variety of nuts, crumbs, sauces and spices — your littles will love creating their own custom combos. With 20-plus rotating flavors, you can’t go wrong, but be sure to try June’s pop of the month: strawberry milkshake.
1151 E. Southlake Blvd., Suite 370, Southlake; 817/631-7339
9440 Garland Rd., #138, Dallas; 972/503-4130
2012 Greenville Ave., Dallas; 972/525-7359
6025 Royal Lane, Suite 105, Dallas; 972/556-5292
908 Currie St., Ft. Worth; 817/381-7791
337 Coneflower Drive, Garland; 972/503-4228
An enormous tank of liquid nitrogen greets you when you walk in to SubZero, where your littles craft their own ice cream and watch it flash-freeze at minus 321 degrees. Let the kiddos take the reins as they choose their cream (vegan and nondairy are available for special diets), their flavor (strawberry, cinnamon, chocolate and more) and their mix-ins like peanut butter cups and raspberries before their concoctions turn super creamy beneath a fog of liquid nitrogen. Flavor combos seem infinite, but if you need a suggestion, try the founder’s favorite, Confetti Surprise: cake batter ice cream mixed with M&M’s, drizzled with caramel and served in a confetti waffle bowl.
9986 Grapevine Highway, Suite C, Hurst; 817/849-5509
3721 Justin Road, Flower Mound; 214/285-2773
Sample the new summer-inspired flavors at Beth Marie’s, where ice cream is churned out of a machine dating back to 1927. The Denton Square staple boasts checkered floors, wooden tables, cast-iron chairs and servers wearing bow ties and paper hats. You can’t go wrong with any choice from the massive ice cream flavor board — 50–60 flavors are rotated daily — but spring for the summery new cherry limeade sorbet or watermelon sorbet. Then sit at the bar, lick to your liking, and watch as the staff assembles banana splits, cherry tree phosphates and coffee floats.
1020 W. Main St., Carrollton; 469/892-6677
117 W. Hickory St., Denton; 940/384-1818
2900 Wind River Lane, Denton; 940/590-1010
What makes this Flower Mound establishment epic, you ask? Obviously the signature Donato — a gourmet doughnut filled with gelato, heated to ooey-gooey perfection and finished with Oreo pieces, chocolate sauce or another topping of your choice. But you can also opt for kid-size cups of housemade flavors such as hazelnut, toasted marshmallow and white chocolate fudge, as well as dairy-free offerings like peach, mango and sour cherry. Grab yourself an affogato (double espresso poured over gelato) and join your kiddos at the bar or a table in the sleek, modern space.
2400 Lakeside Parkway, Suite 100, Flower Mound; 972/874-5678
What Frosty Drive-In lacks in glamor, it makes up for in taste and old-school fun. Head to the 1950s dive (it’s been in operation since 1954) on the way home from the pool for jukebox tunes and cool treats: killer chocolate milkshakes, root beer floats made with homemade root beer and served in a frosted mug, or chocolate and vanilla swirl soft-serve in a cone. Order up front, then enjoy your frozen treats at a table outside.
1002 Fort Worth Drive, Denton; 940/387-5449
This article was originally published in 2017, with updates made on July 1, 2019.