At WriteBrain we have a passion for the clients we serve and the communities we live in. We are always asking the question, “How can we use our expertise (storytelling) to better serve the city we love?” Our new blog series, Explore & Adore DSM, does just that. We will highlight some of the unique ways you can experience and appreciate Greater Des Moines.
As we start to experience some cooler temperatures and the tree colors start to change, we, the WriteBrain team, wanted to reflect on our recent summer adventure.
All of us in the WriteBrain suite are huge ice cream fans — I mean, who isn’t? — so we wanted to know: What is the best local ice cream shop in Des Moines? We scoured the internet and went off word of mouth to narrow down the list of locations to visit. Over the past few months, we paid a visit to four of the top ice cream shops, which earned raving reviews from almost everywhere.
How did they fare with us?
Here are the shops we visited, in the order we visited them.
WriteBrain Publisher Ashley Bohnenkamp insisted we visit Snookies before anywhere else, and, like always, she didn’t steer us wrong. The ice cream was delicious, and the drive-up atmosphere provided a historic, vintage feel.
Snookies was opened in 1968 by married couple Jim Graves and Marilyn Caves. Caves’ nickname was Snookie, and she became the namesake of the business. Their daughter, Brandy Proulx, now owns and operates the Beaverdale ice cream shop.
While the popular spot usually closes around September for the colder season, loyal patrons line up overnight during the spring to await the store’s opening.
Each one of Snookies’ soft-serve products comes accented with an animal cracker, providing some meaningful branding. And you all know how much we love that!
Don’t let the basic name fool you: This custard shop packs a mean punch. Each of us ordered a few scoops of custard, and that’s all it took to fill us up! The shop’s motto, “Once you lick it, you’ll love it,” certainly applied to our experience. The custard was thick, creamy and tasty — a perfect trio.
Classic Frozen Custard, which also has a location in Altoona, uses a recipe that was developed more than 30 years ago. The owners, Julie and Dustan Berns, bought the business from Julie’s uncle in 2007 and has run with it ever since.
Unlike other ice cream shops in Des Moines, Classic Frozen Custard, which has walk-up and drive-thru service, is open year-round, so you can get your fix in the dead heat of summer or in the bitter cold of winter. Either way, it’s a great treat.
This legendary shop is renowned for its old-fashioned soda fountain and for serving mouthwatering homemade ice cream. What used to be primarily a pharmacy has turned into a full-fledged restaurant, with food and frozen confections of many kinds. You may be familiar with Bauder’s famous stand at the Iowa State Fair, which regularly sees long lines and high demand.
We enjoyed the options of rotating flavors at Bauder’s, and we settled on sundaes or scoops of ice cream. The taste was impressive, as was the 1970s-eque atmosphere.
After doing some research, we discovered pharmacies started serving homemade, hand-cranked ice cream shortly after World War II. So not only did we get to enjoy some great frozen treats, we went through a history lesson as well.
One of Des Moines’ newest local ice cream shops has garnered an impressive reputation in a short amount of time. Since pastry chef Alex Wilson opened Black Cat — named after his cat, Boo Bear — in 2016, it has been named the “best ice cream shop” in Iowa by Taste of Home magazine.
It’s hard for us to disagree.
While Wilson rotates flavors every week, we decided to try Cookie Monster, a blue confection mixed with every kind of cookie and treat you can think of — brownies, chocolate chip cookie dough, peanut butter and more. Black Cat serves each cup with a tiny spoon as if to tell its customers to slow down! That may have saved us from getting stomach aches toward the end of the workday.
Needless to say: these sweet treats certainly satisfied our ice cream cravings.