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The top 10 places to get ice cream in Evanston

This is a definitive list (not really).

My third-floor apartment doesn’t have air conditioning, and it’s been well over 90 degrees here in Evanston, Illinois. I’ve spent the last week wilting faster than Purdue football. To alleviate my pain, I have been eating a lot of ice cream. Northwestern has nothing on my hometown ice cream at Bellvale Farms, which is, definitively, the best ice cream in America (catch these hands if you disagree). That doesn’t stop me from doing a pointless and arbitrary ranking of Evanston’s various ice cream parlors.

What relevance does this have to sports? I’m not totally sure, but you can definitely visit these places after taking in a hot game in September.

We’re going from first to worst, because I say so. Who wants bad ice cream anyway? In true Shea Serrano fashion, I have an arbitrary rating system that I won’t explain.

1. Hartigan’s Ice Cream Shoppe

Ice Cream Quality: 9, Accessibility: 9, Value: 7.5 = 25.5 points

I spoke with two Evanston-area residents, and there was a consensus. While Andy’s is good, its status as a chain and supply of only custard downgraded it from the top spot. Instead, Hartigan’s, an ice cream shop just down the road from Ryan Field, takes the top prize with its classic homemade ice cream and sheer volume of flavors.

The store has a Northwestern connection. Marcia Hartigan, the wife of storeowner Terry Hartigan, attended Northwestern and worked full-time while getting a degree. Go ‘Cats!

I went to Hartigan’s for the first time on Thursday night, and I was mostly impressed by the sheer amount of ice cream I received. I got two gargantuan scoops of mocha almond fudge ice cream, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Other highlights include cinnamon and the Belgian waffle sundae.

2. Andy’s Frozen Custard

Ice Cream Quality: 8.5 Accessibility: 10 Value: 5 = 23.5

Andy’s is a mainstay for Northwestern students, but it only does one thing well, kinda like Nate Taphorn. However, instead of hitting threes, Andy’s is really good at making frozen custard. But because that’s all Andy’s has, it gets downgraded slightly in our rankings. The Boot Daddy concrete is my go-to here, and I highly recommend it, even if it is pricey.

3. Coldstone Creamery

Ice Cream Quality: 7 Accessibility: 5 Value: 4 = 16

Coldstone, a national chain, ranks at No. 3 on the list. Because it’s a large corporation and doesn’t resonate with millennials quite like “homemade ice cream,” Coldstone is nowhere near as popular as the other two. But seriously, Coldstone has good ice cream and a wide variety of flavors. It’s basic, but it gets the job done. Unfortunately, the location is an extra block away from campus, and you must walk past Andy’s to even reach Coldstone in an effective manner.

4. The optional ice cream at Insomnia Cookies

Ice Cream Quality: 6 Accessibility: 7 Value: 2 = 15

No one goes to the newly opened Insomnia Cookies in Evanston for ice cream. The only reason to get ice cream is if you buy a “cookie-wich,” an item which tastes very good but is very difficult to eat. Getting a straight cup of ice cream at Insomnia is like rooting for Illinois. Why would you ever do it?

I’m going to go to bat for the quality of the ice cream; it’s pretty good, and I don’t mind it. I usually go for the chocolate chip cookie with coffee ice cream to give me a morale boost during finals week, and I think it’s solid. Unfortunately, that is a quite expensive chip-wich in terms of total ice cream to dollars ratio, giving Insomnia a low score on value.

5. Taking the train to Scooter’s Frozen Custard in Belmont

Ice Cream Quality: 9.5 Accessibility: 2 Value: 3 = 14.5

We’re scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of pure ice cream options. Those top four are really the only places I can think of with decent ice cream options that don’t require a sit-down meal. If you really want to go searching for good ice cream, Scooter’s Frozen Custard is, in my opinion, a slightly better version of Andy’s, but you have to take the Purple Line El and it’s basically a 30-minute ride away.

In hindsight, it was very dumb to put Scooter’s on this list.

6. Yofresh Yogurt Cafe

Ice Cream Quality: N/A Accessibility: 7 Value: 6 = 13

Ugh, it’s not even ice cream. I do not think frozen yogurt is ice cream under usual circumstances, but these are not usual circumstances. Yofresh is a very typical self-service frozen yogurt place. Nothing special. Move along here. Good for Purdue fans, maybe.

7. Buying a pint of ice cream from a Northwestern convenience store

I stopped doing the scores because the rest don’t qualify, really.

I’m sorry, there aren’t that many ice cream places in Evanston. Buying a pint of Reese’s Pieces ice cream from the C-Store or Lisa’s is honestly a legitimate option when you’re desperate at midnight. I regret making this a top 10.

8. Making your own ice cream

“How have I labored?

How have I not labored

To bring her soul to birth,

To give these elements a name and a centre!”

- “Ortus” by Ezra Pound, lines 1-4

The poem above can describe creating ice cream or trying to name Northwestern basketball players between 1975-1990.

How many people have actually tried to make ice cream? I’ll throw down a fancy SB Nation poll.


Have you ever made your own ice cream?

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    (78 votes)
  • 31%
    (39 votes)
  • 4%
    What’s ice cream?
    (6 votes)
123 votes total Vote Now

Making ice cream is quite difficult, and because the percentage of times you get it correctly will be so low, it only comes in at No. 9 on this list.

9. Finding some ice cream in a dining hall and eating it with some regret in your eyes.

The title explains it all, really. The ice cream in the Northwestern dining halls has been there for so long that it scarcely becomes ice cream, but you eat it anyway. In all cases on this list, eating ice cream can help to alleviate pain from a heartbreaking Northwestern sporting defeat. However, the ice cream at Sargent Dining Hall might be only enough to distract you from the most expected losses.

10. The concessions at a Northwestern sporting event

Can we have a chat about how mediocre the food options are at Northwestern’s sporting events? This is a problem throughout college sports, mind you — no teams really have any gourmet Citi Field-style options at games. However, I don’t even know if you can get ice cream at Northwestern sporting events. Even if you get one, the ice cream is likely to be way overpriced and not very good anyway.

I once ordered some nachos and a Sprite from a Northwestern sporting event using a meal swipe. This was an atrocious deal! I estimate that any equivalency meal swipe can get you up to 1,000 calories in food at a dining hall with unlimited drinks. Those nachos were maybe 200 calories, and then the Sprite was just a fountain drink sprite. The worst part is that I had originally intended to get a hot dog, but they ran out after the first quarter. Seriously? I could get a hot dog in the third quarter at the Rutger(s) Athletic Center!

I hope everyone enjoyed this utterly pointless excuse for Inside NU content. Carry on and eat lots of ice cream as long as you are conscious of your health.