The frozen food aisle is stocked with plenty of great ice cream options, but summertime calls for an after-dinner trip with the family to get an ice cream, whether it's to a cart on the corner or a neighborhood soda fountain.
My childhood was spent swimming in the pool all day followed by a trip to the Dairy Queen. What seemed like the entire neighborhood would pile into my dad's wood-paneled station wagon and we'd head into town for soft-serve ice creams. I can't think of anything better than a vanilla dipped in chocolate ice cream cone. There are only three DQ's in the greater Charleston area, but there are plenty of locally made treats that will hit that summertime spot.
Ice cream soda at Pitt Street Pharmacy ($3)
111 Pitt St., Mount Pleasant
You won't find any old-fashioned soda jerk uniforms behind the counter at this Old Village favorite. Instead, bright-eyed teenagers in jeans and cut-off T-shirts busily scoop ice cream and make egg salad sandwiches for a steady stream of neighbors, many of whom arrive on their bikes still clad in wet bathing suits. Such is how it should be for a soda fountain that's been here for decades. They scoop locally made Wholly Cow ice cream and offer custom ice cream sodas. Opt for a Fanta orange with vanilla or go for an old-fashioned root beer float and get a dose of nostalgia with your egg salad sandwich.
Gelato Sundae at Beardcat's Sweet Shop ($8.50)
2063 Middle St., Sullivan's Island
Had I seen the sugar cookie and strawberry gelato sandwich in the freezer before ordering the sundae, I might've opted for that instead. But the sundae here doesn't disappoint, even if they're out of whipped cream like they were the day we wandered in for a treat. You can customize your sundae with three flavors of your choice. We opted for strawberry, latte and vanilla gelato, drizzled with both caramel and hot fudge. I spent most of my time digging around the bottom for a full spoon of fudge, but the smooth gelato was as close to soft serve as you can get. According to the menu online, it is also supposed to have a cookie bar or brownie at the bottom, but I admit that I didn't even miss it.
Chocolate milkshake at Betty's Eatery ($8)
915 Houston Northcutt Blvd., Mount Pleasant
Kelly Chu of Red Orchids and Betty's launched her ice cream company Cirsea a few years back, and it's become well-loved for creative flavors like strawberry-and-goat cheese and black sesame. Over at Betty's, she's put her ice cream to work in over-the-top milkshakes. The banana pudding is amazing, as is the strawberry, but when you need some Hershey's chocolate syrup in your life, you should opt for the chocolate shake, which is drizzled with said syrup and topped with a singed marshmallow and salty pretzel.
Not Fried Chicken from Life Raft Treats ($5)
Roving food cart. Find them via Instagram.com/life.raft.treats
It's absurd really. A chicken leg that's really a delicious ice cream concoction. But it's so much fun to eat a chicken leg that's really a delicious ice cream concoction. Take it from me, the first time I ordered this for dessert at Chubby Fish, a new downtown restaurant that carries Life Raft Treats, my tablemates gobbled it up before I even got a bite. The second time I ordered it, I made sure I got the first go at it. The exterior is sweet breading that looks like fried chicken skin. Inside is luscious ice cream and a chocolate chicken bone that's really just a Cadbury Finger milk chocolate cookie. It's reminiscent of that last bite in the bottom of a Drumstick cone. Cute.
Blueberry Cheri sandwich from Wich Cream
Roving food cart. Find them via Instagram.com/wichcream
Wich Cream specializes in ice cream sandwiches with seasonal flavors. This summer, the ice cream cart, which sets up at different locations and events, is featuring a sandwich named for Cheri Ward of Blue Pearl Farms. Blonde wafers made with Carolina Gourdseed cornmeal hold a center of roasted blueberry and chamomile ice cream. Wich Cream’s cream pops can be found at Boxcar Betty’s, too.
Rick and Morty Matcha Lemonade Popsicle from King of Pops ($2.72)
Crooked Crown and other locations, 21 Spring St. Downtown Charleston
There's lots to love about King of Pops, including the fact that its mobile cart seems to be there right when you need it, such as when you and the family are sweating it out at the latest festival. The original hand-crafted ice pop outfit has seasonal pops that are either fruit- or cream-based, along with a few boozy pops for the adults. At Crooked Crown, the King of Pops' cocktail bar downtown, stop in and choose from the chalkboard. I had to try the Rick and Morty pop made from matcha and lemonade. Tart and refreshing, it hits the spot on a hot day when a full-blown ice cream might feel like too much.
Thai Mania at Ice & Pan
567 King St. Downtown Charleston
At Charleston's first rolled ice cream shop, a liquid cream base is poured onto a cold slab and scraped for three minutes with metal spackling knives. Then the ice cream is spread thin and rolled into little cigars nestled together and topped with your choice of toppings. I had a devil of a time deciding, so I opted for Thai Mania, which is Thai tea and lychee flavored ice cream; I topped it with Froot Loops, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. There are probably better flavor combinations, so I leave it to you to come up with something more exciting than I did.
One scoop or two at Park Circle Creamery
If you're looking for a classic ice cream experience, the Park Circle Creamery is the quintessential neighborhood scoop shop. Choose from maple bacon, Mex vanilla and a chalkboard of other creative house-made flavors, put it in a waffle cone, and you have a summertime treat that's hard to beat.