Brain freeze: Dishing on Syracuse hot spots for cold treats
A student can only chase the ice cream truck up and down Euclid Avenue so many times before he or she realizes there must be a better option. But ask anyone on campus where to find a decent ice cream cone, and you’ll be met with a blank stare, quickly followed by a shrug of the shoulders. Sure, you could head over to Kimmel Food Court for some Haagen Dazs, but nothing beats slurping up a cold cone outside on a hot day. Outdoor ice cream joints may not be a hot commodity right off campus, but Syracuse has plenty of places to enjoy the essential warm-weather treat. And as we’ve seen over the past week, even though classes may have started, summer is hardly over. Give the 100-meter-ice-cream-truck dash a break and try out some of Syracuse’s local creameries instead.
Arctic Island Ice Cream
Where: 210 W Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse
Distance from campus: 2.7 miles
The Scoop: All year long
With a giant plastic ice cream cone standing tall on the roof, Arctic Island Ice Cream is, in itself, a landmark to the East Colvin area. ‘We’ve been here forever,’ said Elizabeth Quesinberry, an Artic Island employee who lives in DeWitt. Arctic Island boasts a lengthy menu that ranges from dog treat sundaes to giant ice cream cookie sandwiches. Before you deviate from the norm right off the bat, it might be better to kick it old school with some classic hard serve ice cream.
‘We’re the only place in the valley area that makes homemade ice cream,’ Quesinberry said.
Featuring homemade, exotic flavors like Burgundy Cherry, Bavarian Raspberry Chip and ‘Dirt,’ a chocolate ice cream with crumbled Oreo cookies, Arctic Circle’s hard serve is a pedigree above the competition. For such quality, the hard serve is set at bargain prices, too. Their ‘kiddie’ cones, priced at $1.65, are just about as big as any other place’s small. Not to leave the health-conscious customer out to melt, a generous amount of dietary options are offered, too. Sugar-free, low-calorie, dairy-free and yes, even gluten-free options can be scooped onto your cone.
Although the outdoor benches encourage you to stick around in the summer months, these delicious flavors can also be enjoyed all year long. The outdoor section of the shop closes in early November, but no snowstorm is going to get between you and your ice cream, even if the treat is 20 degrees warmer than the temperature outside. To keep patrons warm, there’s an indoor café attached to the building as well. Beyond being a great breakaway from ho-hum coffee shops, Arctic Island conveniently packs their ice cream in pints to go.
Big Dip Ice Cream
Where: 216 North Main Street, North Syracuse, NY
Distance from campus: 9.2 miles
The Scoop: Historic
Although the Big Dip may require a car ride up I-81, with season flavors like their pumpkin spice soft serve, it just might be worth it. Big Dip has a limited but quality menu, and is known for its soft serve twists such as chocolate-peanut butter and pumpkin spice-vanilla. In addition, the Big Dip knows what it’s doing when it comes to ice cream. After all, they’ve been around for decades.
‘Not a lot of people have heard about us, but we’ve been around for over 50 years,’ said Maggie Dennis, a sophomore wildlife science major in the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and a four-year employee of Big Dip. ‘There’s a lot of good history around here.’
The Big Dip purchases its ice cream from Byrne Dairy, a staple in the Syracuse area. Although it isn’t homemade, they have a variety of sundaes that definitely make the ice cream one-of-a-kind. With choices like a cotton candy confetti sundae and a pumpkin pecan caramel sundae, you’re sure to find something you haven’t tried before.
One of the benefits of heading all the way out to North Syracuse is the prices. With four sizes, ranging from the perfect snack size kiddie cone for $1.50 to the large, which still rings in at a bargain with a price of $2.90, it’s worth the gas money to get there.
And once you head out there, you’re sure to enjoy yourself. Have a seat at in the sun on the grass field next to the Big Dip, or maybe sit under an umbrella at one of their picnic tables and soak it all up.
‘It’s a good atmosphere,’ Dennis said. ‘All the people are really friendly and engaging.’
A-La-Mode Ice Cream & Sandwich
Where: 331 Nottingham Rd., Syracuse
Distance from Campus: 1.8 miles
The Scoop: Easy Access
Though it prides itself on being a sandwich shop, A-La-Mode isn’t too shabby when it comes to ice cream. The fact that it’s less than 10 minutes (by car) from campus doesn’t hurt its appeal, either. It’s still early in the semester, so you probably still have some extra time on your hands. What better way to kill it than by strolling down East Colvin Street for quality ice cream? Featuring an Akron, N.Y.-based company, Perry’s Ice Cream, you get some local flavor without having to travel too far off campus. Their Maple Walnut flavor is rich, but offers enough of a sweet twinge to mimic the taste of pure maple syrup. Their other top flavor, ‘Piece of Cake,’ pretty much says it all. Since A-La-Mode is, first and foremost, a sandwich shop, the setting obviously differs from a traditional ice cream stand. The frozen pickings are limited to just 10 hard serve flavors. No worries though — the walk back to campus is plenty of time to enjoy every one of them. The prices are reasonable, so don’t hesitate to make an entire meal out of the trip. Once you put away one of their generously portioned sandwiches, pack your dairy treat in an extra big cone for a snack that will keep you cool the entire way back. With this summer heat of late, you’re going to need it.
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