By Wayne Gray
Gelato, soft-serve, frozen yogurt, premium ice cream and even “boozy” Ice cream: you can find it all along University Avenue in the six short blocks between Utah St and 31st!
First, there’s Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream, winner of numerous “Best” awards. This quaint shop at 3077 University Ave offers 32 flavors of Tropical Dreams super-premium Hawaiian ice cream and sorbet, including flavors such as Apple Carmel Pie, Black Sesame, Banana Mac Nut Fudge and Guava jelly. If you can’t decide, sample several flavors when you order a Hammond flight!
Soon joining the premium ice cream category will be Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. Jeni Britton Bauer is a pioneer of the artisan ice cream movement and best-selling ice cream cookbook author. Her first shop was opened in 1955 and she founded Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in 2002. Jeni’s expansion to Southern California includes a recently announced location at 2871 University Ave, a site formally occupied by Hunt and Gather (now on Ray Street). Said to be President Biden’s favorite, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream touts a ‘uniquely smooth’ buttercream base. Jeni’s California expansion also includes a location in Carlsbad.
For those looking for soft serve, you can’t miss North Park Creamery’s brightly colored shop in the heart of North Park. A North Park resident’s passion for soft-serve inspired a decision to open a shop with a classic soft serve menu, a family-friendly vibe and affordable prices. Their Strass Organic soft serve can be dipped in home-made ‘magic shell’ dipping sauces or served-up in creamy shakes and sundaes. Need a pick-me-up? Add a Café Moto fair-trade organic espresso. Look for their latest rotating flavors and daily specials.
Frozen yogurt is also in the 3000 block across the ally from Flap Your Jacks. One of the pioneers in North Park’s revitalization, Yog-art offers frozen yogurt with a variety of available toppings as well as fruit smoothies, bubble tea and chamango drinks.
For the Gelato crowd, two restaurants each offer a variety of premium gelato flavors. First is Figaro Dessert Cafe, where your entry is greeted by a colorful display of artisan gelato. They also offer Gourmet desserts, wedding cakes, crepes, coffee and custom and all-occasions cakes. Within a block on the opposite side of the street you’ll find the narrow façade of Gelati & Peccati, a small Roman-style pizza eatery inspired by the beloved pizza stands and corner gelato shops found throughout Italy. They feature 18 flavors of gelato along with unique pizza toppings on “crispy yet airy” crust.
The most unusual offering comes from Melt Bar Creamery & Café at University Avenue and Utah Street. Melt serves southern-style food for breakfast, lunch and supper and a rotating menu of adult milkshakes, sundaes and deserts. The treats riff on popular drinks and include offerings such as a Pecan Old Fashioned with Makers Mark Bourbon, Woodford Bitters and buttered pecans. Each frozen treat includes about two ounces of booze (not enough to get you drunk!). The homemade ice cream is based on an eggy custard which mellows the alcohol. The kids and the less adventurous have their own separate non-alcoholic menu.
— Wayne Gray is a North Park resident and the founder of Harmony Blinds and Shutters.