Spot: Shawn Michelle's Old Fashioned Ice Cream
Here's the scoop: We give Shawn's cred for creativity; instead of ho-hum 'nilla names, look for choices like Melanin Magic (chocolate) and Caribbean Sunbeam Supreme (mango). Did we mention they taste as good as they sound?
Lick pick: Rainbow Coalition ($5.75), a waffle cone loaded with chocolate, cherry, lemon, mango and strawberry ice creams.
Spot: Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream
Here's the scoop: Reala.k.a. 14-percent butterfatice cream from the Madison, Wisc.-based Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Company. Other stores around town serve the Chocolate Shoppe brand, but this parlor on the far northwestern edge of the city is the only Chocolate Shoppe store you'll find from here until well past the state line.
Lick pick: Fat Elvis ($2.39 for a single scoop), banana ice cream rippled with peanut butter and chocolate chunks.
Spot: Treats Frozen Desserts
Here's the scoop: We all have enough things things to feel guilty about. Eat here, however, and ice cream ain't one of 'em. This place bills itself as "the healthy alternative to ice cream" -- it uses skim milk instead of butterfat. It serves a daily rotation of 6 flavors (from 70 recipes!) of 99-percent fat free and 100-percent cholesterol free ice cream; a small cup's just 90 calories.
Lick pick: Julia's Mess ($4.35 small), chocolate-dipped ice cream loaded with Reese's peanut butter cup and banana chunks for those who insist on a little guilt in their lives.
Here's the scoop: This newbie offers a plethora of ice cream flavors and concoctions like a chocolate chip ice cream sandwich ($4) and brownie delight ($5.95). Added perk: Wi-fi.
Lick pick: Strawberry Shortcake Explosion ($4.75), a berrylicious treat of pound cake, vanilla ice cream, strawberry wafers, strawberry topping and whipped cream.
Spot: Petersen's Restaurant, Ice Cream Parlour and Sweet Shoppe
Here's the scoop: We love the charm of this suburban staple--they've been serving up the sweets since 1919--but we're psyched they're adding a liquor license soon so we can double-up on our vices. We can't wait to dig into alcohol-laden bananas Foster ($8.50) and specials like baked Alaska ($8.50). Bonus: free dinner theater; staffers will prep these treats tableside.
Lick pick: The Schooner ($12.95), a gargantuan goblet stuffed with five flavors of ice cream, bananas, burgundy-soaked cherries and more.
Spot: Yummy Yummy Custard Shop
Here's the scoop: What's not to love about a double-dose of yummy? The lineup includes Italian ice and soft-serve, plus lactose-laden libations like the Boston shake: a 24-ouncer topped with soft-serve and whipped cream ($3.85).
Lick pick: The Upside Down Banana Split, layered in a cup for minimal-mess portability ($4.50-$5.50).
Gage Park and Berwyn
Here's the scoop: We had a hard time deciding here; there are 68 flavors of ice cream and Italian ice (the bigger Berwyn spot has more than 100), with quirky choices like mamey, avocado and horchata.
Lick pick: Coconut-pineapple ice cream with bits of coconut in every bite ($1.45-$6.50).
Spot: Scooter's Frozen Custard
Here's the scoop: What's so special about custard, you ask? It's the Al Green of frozen dairy desserts - super smooth. This always-jammed corner spot serves up vanilla, chocolate and a flavor of the day such as strawberry cheesecake.
Lick pick: Our own crazy creation, the Fluffernutter ($5.72 for large), blended with marshmallow and peanut butter.
Here's the scoop: This retro diner offers classics like shakes, floats and multi-scoop sundaes. Over-the-top offerings like Frankenstein's Monster (a three-scoop banana split, $5.59) and the 10-scoop War of the Worlds ($11.99) up the fantasy factor.
Lick pick: French-fried ice cream ($3.79) wrapped in crunchy pastry and topped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
Spot: New Rebozo Mexican Restaurant
Here's the scoop: Don't skip dessert at this South-of-the-Border staple, where seasonal dishes are as enthusiastic as owner Francisco "Paco" Lopez.
Lick pick: Chocolate-jalapeno ice cream ($6.95). Lopez mixes jalapeno juices into a chocolate ice cream base for a frozen treat with a surprisingly spicy finish. Try it with a guava or tamarind margarita ($9.95).
Spot: The Original Rainbow Cone
Here's the scoop: This 80-year-old institution is best-known for the five-layers-of-tongue-fun "rainbow cone," with orange sherbet and Palmer House (cherry-walnut blend), chocolate, pistachio and strawberry ice creams ($2.50-$3.50), but did you know they have goodies like a made-in-Chicago Filbert's root beer float ($3.95-$4.95)?
Lick pick: Old-fashioned banana split ($5.25), a trio of ice creams with hot fudge, strawberry and pineapple sauces and whipped cream.
Lincoln Square and Andersonville
Spot: Sweet Occasions and More
Here's the scoop: This candy shop for dense, Wis.-made Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream in an ever-changing array of flavors. If you're lucky, the 20 or so options on offer might include candy aisle-inspired Tootsie Pop and Three Musketeers ice creams.
Lick pick: A single scoop of zin-ful Zanzibar dark chocolate ($2.85 in cup or cake cone, $3.25 for sugar or waffle cone).
Spot: Homer's Ice Cream
Here's the scoop: Super-rich ice cream made from a family recipe first dished out in the 1930s. If you're on the North Shore, you can't beat the original for classic licks. Fortunately for the rest of us, several city spots also serve Homer's flavors, including South Side favorite Papa Smiles' Ice Cream (see Cold School)
Lick pick: Fresh Peach, a seasonal showstopper ($2.25 for a single scoop). Get it while you can.
[Chris LaMorte, Terri Mooney, M. Kathleen Pratt and Heidi Moore contributed to this article].