The Scoop on Ice Cream

chill out at these local spots

by Kathryn Brooks and Matt Stewart

Churn knows that the tastiest and best quality ice creams are made with those same simple, fresh ingredients from years past.

We are a city with an ice cream obsession. With record temperatures stretching for months on end, who could blame us? This delicious, cold, creamy, refreshing, sweet treat has the power to cool us off and evoke fond memories of our childhood. Try these local spots for a quick fix.

Cafe ZuZu is currently featuring a strawberry shortcake-themed shake.

At Hotel Valley Ho, they shake it up a bit. The lead pastry chef, Audrey Enriquez, creates The Show Stopper, an extremely large-sized, fully decorated and utterly delicious milkshake. Made with the freshest ingredients available, the creation changes seasonally. For the month of June, there’s the strawberry shortcake-themed shake. It is loaded with all things strawberry: stewed strawberries, strawberry ice cream, fresh strawberries and a strawberry crunch ice cream topped with a white chocolate-dipped strawberry. The regulars are still talking about Enriquez’s Banana Cream Pie Shake. Cool and comforting, the frosty treat of the month will surely make your day.


Located in Chandler, Sammies raises the bar on the traditional ice cream sandwich. Peer into the shop’s open-kitchen and you’ll see ice cream and cookies being made in-house daily. Using the highest quality ingredients, the cold confection is a perfect balance of milk, sugar and cream. Placed between two warm, homemade cookies, it’s heavenly. Try their Rocky Road ice cream sandwiched between two giant, fresh from the oven Peanut Butter cookies. Chocoholics will enjoy a Brownie Bowl. Or choose a fresh Bosa donut cushioning a scoop of ice cream smothered with your favorite topping.

MacAlpine Soda Fountain is equal parts ice cream shop, restaurant and secondhand store.

Established in 1928, MacAlpine is a blast from the past. Bordering the historical Coronado District, it’s one of the last remaining soda fountains in the country that still serves up a heavy dose of quirky nostalgia. With a hodgepodge of retro garden seating out front, MacAlpine is equal parts ice cream shop, restaurant and secondhand store. There’s a long list of soda-fountain classics like malts, shakes, sundaes, cream sodas, phosphates and egg cream. All ice cream concoctions are made with Thrifty ice cream, and customers can customize their selections with one of their 99 syrup flavors. Sit at the counter and swivel on your stool with an ice cream soda, hot fudge sundae or old-fashioned lemonade. 602-262-5545


For over 20 years this humble Mexican ice cream parlor serves fruit-focused confections, cones and shakes. South of the Border-style paletas (icy fruit drinks), ice cream, licuados and raspadas (shaved ice) are the specialities. Raspados and homemade paletas can be spiced up with ingredients like lime-infused mango chili. Try the overflowing coconut raspada topped with piña colada ice cream. Or go native with a Diablito which consists of fruit, lime juice, shaved ice and hot sauce. Tamarind, watermelon, cantaloupe, coconut, mango, horchata, arroz con leche, strawberry, pecan and lime are just some of the available flavors. 602-271-4527

Snoh Ice which is a cross between traditional shaved ice and creamy ice cream.

On a small island in the South China Seas, a frozen dessert known to the locals as BaoBing (shaved snow) was invented. The popularity of this dessert quickly spread through the Asian communities of Los Angeles, and now the Valley. Ingredients such as lychee and tea extracts are used to make Snoh Ice which is a cross between traditional shaved ice and creamy ice cream. This mixture is then flash-frozen to create a velvety, snow-like texture. To top it off, premium Asian-inspired garnishes such as coconut and pineapple provide the perfect complement. Try Mountain of Dew, a combination of honeydew-flavored snoh topped with cinnamon toast crunch, mochi balls and caramel.


Owner and master roller Nino McCurley, a retired firefighter, is center stage in Glendale pouring, chopping and shaping custom ice cream flavors into four large rolls. Skillfully he smashes, chops and blends an assortment of your favorite toppings into the ice cream, ensuring that every spoonful is full of flavor. For the finale, McCurley then rolls your order into absolute perfection. “I don’t do basic,” he claims. His original creations are unique, unexpected and downright delicious.

Creamistry uses liquid nitrogen to instantly freeze each ice cream order.

Unlike regular ice cream that is typically pumped and churned with air, Creamistry uses liquid nitrogen to instantly freeze each ice cream order, resulting in a smooth, creamy taste. Brownies are baked in-house every day and waffle bowls are made-to-order, ensuring that everything will be fresh and never soggy. First patrons select a size, then a base flavor of either milk, organic milk, water-based sorbet or a non-dairy coconut base that’s vegan and gluten-free. With over 30 flavors, deciding can be difficult. Now on to the 35 toppings that range from the deliciously ordinary chocolate fudge to the outrageously unique French Toast Crunch.


For 60 years the Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Parlor and Restaurant has been dishing out scrumptious ice cream treats to devoted local and tourist customers alike in Old Town Scottsdale. For the ultimate experience, grab a stool at their authentic ‘50s soda fountain. Virtually unchanged in menu items, décor and location since their beginning, you’ll find shakes, malts, ice cream sodas, sherbets, floats, sundaes and splits as standard fare. Join in the 60th birthday celebration with a Camelback Soda, an old-fashioned soda pop confection of either marshmallow, caramel, or hot fudge sauce topping your favorite ice cream flavor.

Treat yourself to Sweet Republic’s Campfire S’More Sundae. 

This award-winning shop has been serving ice cream for over a decade and, all along, everything they offer has been handcrafted – even the ingredients that flavors their ice creams. Treat yourself to the Campfire S’More Sundae with two scoops of Belgian chocolate ice cream, roasted marshmallow, hot fudge and whipped cream served in a waffle bowl. Milkshakes, made with hand-spun milk plus whipped cream, are smooth as silk. I chose to chill out with a  Strawberry Creamsicle Milkshake, a perfect blend of strawberry sorbet and Madagascar vanilla. With flavors like Salted Butter Caramel Swirl, Almond Buttercrunch, Rhubarb Crumble and Peaberry Espresso, splurge and get a pint to go.


This shop will take you back to your first taste of fresh ice cream. It was probably on the back porch, on a lazy hot summer day, with a scoop of sweet strawberry or real vanilla. At Churn, they haven’t forgotten and know that the tastiest and best quality ice creams are made with those same simple, fresh ingredients from years past. You won’t discover anything you can’t pronounce or scary chemical additives, preservatives or stabilizers in the confections. Sundae lovers should try the Kitchen Sink, made with peanut butter ice cream, bananas, a salted caramel drizzle, whipped cream and chocolate chunks. If you just want a scoop, be sure to have it in their handmade pretzel cone.