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Restaurant Hoppen: Cool down at the top ice cream spots in Omaha

Dairy Chef
Posted at 6:19 PM, Aug 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-05 19:19:23-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Summer has arrived in full force, and with it comes the sweltering Nebraska heat, oppressive humidity, and the insatiable desire to remain in the comfort of air conditioning as much as possible.

That is, except, to venture out and enjoy the ultimate way to counteract our state’s harsh temperatures: ice cream.

This rich creamy treat makes even the most scorching days bearable, and Omaha has several ice cream shops that not only offer cooling relief but incredible creativity and flavor. Next time you’re craving a cold dairy dessert, consider one of these five destinations.

Coneflower Creamery

Coneflower Creamery

Coneflower Creamery’s “farm to cone” ethos doesn’t just make for a great motto. While classic flavors like Vanilla and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough will almost always be present in Coneflower’s display case, most of the menu changes frequently depending on what ingredients are in season and at peak freshness. “We let the seasons write the menu,” co-owner Brian Langehn said on the Restaurant Hoppen podcast.

For example, fans flock to Coneflower for its legendary strawberry ice cream due both to its delicious flavor and limited availability. Because strawberries are only fresh for about three weeks in Nebraska each summer, that’s the only time you’ll see them on Coneflower’s menu—and why these scoops carry a wonderful sweetness, along with the slight sour you’ll find in a ripe strawberry. There are no cutting corners here, and that’s why, regardless of season or time of day, you’ll almost always see a line spilling out Coneflower’s door.

But the base ice creams, like Cookies & Cream or the beloved Butter Brickle, will almost always be present, and they’re consistent as ice cream gets. Coneflower’s base is so smooth and creamy that it’s almost velvety in texture. On a hot summer day, it’ll melt quickly, but that’s a good sign: ice creams that are slow to melt often have stabilizers that add fat and slow the melting process.

That’s not a worry at Coneflower, where fresh, real, and downright delicious is the name of the game.

Dairy Chef

Dairy Chef

At first glance, it appears Dairy Chef’s main selling point is its abundance. Its soft serve cones are as tall as an adult’s head, and its Storms contain enough candy mixed in to give one a sugar rush simply by looking at one.

While it’s true that Dairy Chef is generous with its volume, the quality of the ice cream far outweighs the quantity. With more air content and less milk fat, this soft serve has a light, fluffy texture that’s irresistible.

So don’t be turned off if you pull into this Elkhorn dive and see a long line. With two windows and a quick delivery process, the line moves quickly. And a large crowd means Dairy Chef is doing something right—a sentiment that will be confirmed upon your first bite into your dessert.

Ted & Wally’s

Ted & Wally's

Three distinct qualities set Ted & Wally’s apart from any other ice cream shop. The first is the high butterfat content (20%!), which produces a rich, creamy product with a distinct personality. The second is the parlor’s dedication to old-school techniques: Ted & Wally’s uses century-old antique White Mountain freezers with rock salt and ice to craft its confections.

But the third and most unique aspect of Ted & Wally’s is its massive roster of flavors. Its menu has included over 3,000 ice cream flavors (and counting), ranging from standard Vanilla Bean and Dutch Chocolate to wild concoctions like Cranberry Horseradish Chevre, White Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel, and Bourbon Carrot Cake. And with menus at both locations (Benson and downtown) that change, every single day, there’s no doubt you’ll be able to find something that suits your palate.

Centi

Centi

Not only does this new pints-for-order business offer some of the silkiest ice cream and gelato you’ll find in the city, but Centi showcases a masterful balance of ingredients. A former savory chef, owner Erick Landa subtly introduces notes of fruits, coffee, and alcohol into his flavors without taking away from what makes ice cream great.

His creations are obviously sweet, but they have remarkable balance. The Hardy Chip (flavored with brews from Hardy Coffee Co.) tastes like sipping a cup of creamy coffee, only with small chocolate chunks adding texture and cocoa. The Bourbon Vanilla has just a touch of smoke from the booze to balance the sweetness of the natural vanilla. Oh, and artificial flavorings can check themselves at the door; they’re not coming near a Centi creation.

Orders can be placed on Centi’s website and picked up at the downtown location of Hardy Coffee.

Countryside Cones

Countryside Cones

Looking to switch up your ice cream routine? Opt for a cup or cone of custard from Countryside Cones, the newest addition to Omaha’s frozen dessert scene. It just opened on July 23, but it’s already drawing rave reviews for its smooth, creamy custard, bright atmosphere, and exceedingly friendly service.

Both vanilla and chocolate custards are delicious inside a house-made waffle cone or when sandwiched between two homemade, chewy chocolate chip cookies. But the kicker is Countryside Cone’s filled cones: the cone is hollowed out and filled with a “core” of chocolate, peanut butter, or marshmallow sauce, giving it a fun surprise and extra blast of flavor.

Did your favorite ice cream parlor make the list? Are there any local spots for cold treats I need to hit? Send me a message on Instagram at @dan_hoppen, tweet at @danhoppen, or message Restaurant Hoppen on Facebook. I want to hear from you!

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