Hawaii: Uncle Clay’s House Of Pure Aloha
Shave ice is a Hawaiian specialty of very thin ice shavings drenched in syrup — it’s like a snow cone, though snow cone ice is crushed, not shaved)– and that’s what Uncle Clay’s is famous for. They make their own syrups from fresh Hawaiian fruit and fruit purées with pure cane sugar. Actual ice cream is offered, too, though, including such island-made flavors as POG (passion fruit, orange, and guava), Green Tea, and Uncle Pono’s ‘Ulu (made with breadfruit). Besides the original, there’s an Uncle Clay’s at Honolulu’s Ala Moana Center.
Idaho: The STIL
Styling itself “Boise’s own American Gelato Bistro,” the STIL brings downtown Boise not only homemade ice creams based on Idaho dairy products but also ice creams infused with wine, beer, and liquor; suggested alcohol pairings for non-infused choices; and alcoholic floats. Specialty flavors include Dejà Vu (almond ice cream with Oreo and sugar cone pieces), Cookies with Grandma (coconut milk ice cream with vegan cookie dough), and Fresh Powder (vanilla ice cream with cream cheese). There is a second location in the planned community of Harris Ranch in east Boise.
Illinois: Ava’s Italian Ice
Italian ice has more in common with sorbet than with ice cream per se, but it’s a rich Chicago tradition and the city’s own iconic form of frozen dessert. Ava’s, an Italian ice stand in the Bucktown neighborhood, is regularly hailed as one of the best purveyors of this specialty. Flavors include watermelon, mango, raspberry, banana, plum, and blood orange.
Indiana: Nicey Treat
Inspired by the paletas — frozen fruit juice on a stick — popular in Mexico, the specialties here are ice pops in such flavors as frozen hot chocolate, strawberry mint, mango ginger, and avocado. There are also Nicey Pies, icebox pies made with ice pop flavors framed with crusts made by the local 4 Birds Bakery. (There is a second location in the Fletcher Place neighborhood.)
Iowa: Over the Top
City: Pleasant Hill
A family-run ice cream parlor just outside Des Moines, Over the Top serves some 25 regular flavors, some with fanciful names. (Happy Wife Happy Life is dark chocolate ice cream with roasted almonds, Heath Bar and fudge pieces, and a caramel swirl; Over the Moon is tutti frutti ice cream with mini gummi bears.) There’s also a flavor of the month (July’s was Tropical Breeze, made with coconut, pineapple, and mango) and a few seasonal offerings.