Ten Hot Spots for Cool Treats in YQG
By: Jen Brignall-Strong from Tailgate Takeout
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! National Ice Cream Day is July 17th but if you’re anything like me, you celebrate all summer long. Whether you prefer it in a cup, cone, or even a taco shell, there’s no shortage of places to enjoy your favourite cool confections here in Windsor-Essex.
My go-to order is vanilla soft serve dipped in chocolate and nuts, but I always love trying new tastes and toppings; especially when it involves different flavour combinations or unique serving choices that make you think outside the cone.
Looking to satisfy your sweet tooth? From gelato to fro-yo and every scoop in between, here are ten of my favourite spots across the region offering cool classics and creative concoctions.
The first sign of spring in Windsor-Essex? When Dairy Freez opens. Winner of the 2022 Best of Windsor Essex Award for “Best Ice Cream”, this iconic, family-run drive-in restaurant and ice cream stop is a must visit. No matter where you live in YQG, it’s well worth the drive.
We love taking the family for a ride out to the county to enjoy lunch or dinner and of course, dessert. Dairy Freez specializes in good old fashioned soft serve ice cream, available in a cup or cone, in a milkshake, or in one of their specialty sundaes.
During our last visit, we decided on two of their summer feature sundaes: the Brownie Extreme with hot fudge, caramel, brownie, and Skor bits, and the Strawberry Heaven with angel food cake and fresh local strawberries. They’ll be available for the rest of the season, and I’ll definitely be back for seconds.
While you can have your meal and treats brought right to your car, I suggest taking your food out back and enjoying the peaceful picnic area.
If you’re looking for the perfect post-dinner dessert spot, this is it. The popular Lasalle shop offers a wide selection of hard and soft ice cream, smoothies, and milkshakes, plus The Cheesecake Factory cheesecakes.
They’re known for their delicious sundaes as well, with over 30 different toppings to “build your own” or choose from one of their specialty options. Their most popular specialty is The Turtle Club: your choice of soft serve topped with a milk chocolate shell then drizzled with caramel and toasted pecans. All my favourite food groups…how could I resist? Probably one of the best sundaes I’ve had.
Really need a sugar fix? Check out their “Sugarito:” your choice of ice cream (3 scoops) garnished with your favourite toppings and wrapped in a cotton candy burrito. My teeth hurt just thinking about it, but it’s very popular with the little ones (I suggest splitting with a friend or three.)
Growing up near Tecumseh, I have many fond memories of biking down Riverside Drive and making a pit stop at Slinky’s for a scoop of my favourite ice cream. The nostalgia hits me every time I visit.
Slinky’s has been scooping a wide variety of ice cream for 40 years, but I always seem to find something new to enjoy when I’m there. In addition to the traditional hard and soft serve ice cream, they also offer smoothies, vegan options, sundaes, floats, and even Dole Whip (if you know, you know.)
If you love tacos as much as you love ice cream, I recommend the taco sundae: a waffle cone taco shell filled with two scoops of your favourite hard or soft ice cream, plus whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry on top. I added Skor bits and M&Ms to mine; they have a huge variety of toppings to choose from.
Be sure to check out their weekly specials, including their “Taco Tuesday” deal: buy one ice cream taco, get one half off.
How do you make ice cream even better? You serve it in a chimney cone. Walkerville Chill has taken Windsor’s dessert game to the next level.
While they offer regular waffle and sugar cones, this busy shop is one of the only places in the province that specializes in chimney cones: pint-size versions of chimney cakes, a traditional Hungarian dessert. The best way to describe it is like serving you ice cream in a cinnamon sugar donut cone. Are you drooling yet?
Their most popular specialty chimneys are the Nutella, the Cinnamon Bun with cream cheese frosting and cinnamon syrup, and my new obsession: the Peanut Butter with soft serve ice cream, crushed Reese’s Pieces, and chocolate and peanut butter drizzle. Decadence at its finest.
There’s nothing else to say other than stop what you’re doing and get yourself one of these chimney cones stat! Pro tip: wear your stretchiest stretchy pants.
An Amherstburg staple since 1979, Waterfront Ice Cream specializes in the classic hard ice cream we all know and love. We’re not just talking your basic vanilla though; they feature over 52 flavours to choose from, including dairy-free and sugar-free options.
They also offer soft serve, frozen yogurt, sorbet, and gelato, as well as classic sundaes, banana splits, and milkshakes.
With so many options, it’s so hard to choose! On my last visit, I opted for one of their newer, most popular flavours: coconut caramel crunch. Of course, I just had to have it on one of their waffle cones dipped in chocolate and nuts, made fresh in-house.
Enjoy your treat inside or out, with an adorable dining area and spacious patio. I also love taking my cone across the street to King’s Navy Yard Park and walking the waterfront.
Nuccelli’s Frozen Yogurt
I’ve never felt more “healthy” eating dessert than when I grab a frozen yogurt from Nuccelli’s. It’s probably because this beloved Amherstburg fixture uses real fruit in their frozen creations; from strawberries and blueberries to kiwi and bananas. You can mix up to three different fruits in your frozen yogurt, so pick your favourite combination and watch the magic happen right before your eyes.
My top pick is peach raspberry in a waffle cone. So refreshing…it just tastes like summer! If you’re looking for something with extra sweetness, you can also choose from mix-ins like Oreo, M&Ms, Skittles, peanut butter, and cream cheese.
For the traditionalist, Nuccelli’s even offers a selection of regular ice cream, as well as milk shakes, sundaes, and parfaits.
Devour your favourite creation on the front patio, the scenic back patio, or take a stroll through King’s Navy Yard Park. Don’t forget; you can also stock up and take your fro-yo to go! Check out their website and order ice cream cakes or a pack of 12 or 24 “to go” cups.
A & J Snack Shack
Head to beautiful Belle River On The Lake for a tasty treat from A&J Snack Shack. Located on Belle River’s West Beach and open daily from 11am to 9:30pm it is the perfect spot to stop into while you’re enjoying a beach day or an evening stroll along the boardwalk or through the marina. Serving up soft serve ice cream, hand scooped ice cream, dessert waffles, smoothies, banana splits, milkshakes and pop slushies – everyone will find their favourite tasty scoop of deliciousness! If you need something a bit more filling before dessert they also offer fries, hotdogs and burgers, poutines and nachos! Be sure to check out their weekly specials too!
Pelee Island Coneheads
After a long day of biking across Pelee Island, there’s no better way to chill than with a scoop of your favourite ice cream. Located just steps away from the western ferry docks, Conehead’s is a favourite among islanders and visitors alike.
I just recently discovered the island (what took me so long?) and ended my day with a sweet treat from this popular stand. They offer a great selection of hard ice cream flavours including Heavenly Hash, Cookies & Cream, and Super Kid, as well as classic milkshakes and floats. Looking to grab a quick snack before hopping on the ferry back to the mainland? Enjoy a freshly made hot dog before your dessert; the perfect summer combo.
Cindy’s in Kingsville is so much more than a garden centre; it’s also a foodie paradise! If you’ve ever checked out the front building on the property, Cindy’s Too, you know they have an amazing assortment of London Ice Cream Co. hard ice cream and new this year, Dippin’ Dots. Um, yes please.
They’re one of the only spots in the area to carry Dippin’ Dots; a treat you usually only find at festivals and fairs. If you’ve never had them it’s hard to explain why they’re so delicious. They’re like mini little ice cream balls that melt in your mouth, with flavours like cookies n’ cream, strawberry cheesecake, and cotton candy. I tried the rainbow ice and really enjoyed the light, fruity flavour; almost like frozen Fruity Pebbles!
Opting for a traditional scoop of ice cream? Psst…I’ll let you in on a secret menu hack. Take a trip around back and visit their on-site T-Jay’s Cookery food truck. Order some funnel cake fries, then bring your dessert up to the ice cream counter and have them top it with a scoop of your favourite flavour (and some chocolate and caramel sauce too.) You’ve just created one of the most delicious desserts known to man: the ice cream poutine.
Every time I order pizza from Oven 360 in Leamington, I can’t help but grab an order of gelato for the ride home. Who says you can’t have dessert before dinner?
Gelato is an Italian dessert very similar to ice cream, but has a lower butterfat content and is served at a slightly higher temperature, making it less likely to numb your mouth when you eat it (and less likely to give you brain freeze.) Don’t tell anyone, but I think I actually prefer it over regular ice cream. It’s just so good!
Oven 360 makes a variety of traditional flavours including pistachio, tiramisu, sour cherry, and stracciatella, as well as bubble gum and my son’s favourite, birthday cake. They even have a ‘create your own’ cannoli bar, where they fill a cannoli shell with your choice of gelato flavour and toppings.
The pistachio is probably my favourite, but I gotta say that tiramisu flavour in a cannoli shell is a close second.