There’s no doubt about it – soft serve ice cream is having a moment in Calgary. A staple at chains like Dairy Queen since it was invented in the 1930s, soft serve differs from hard ice cream in that it usually has less fat, it has a light, smooth taste thanks to the presence of air and it’s made at a higher temperature (which is what gives it its “soft” form). Plus, it’s served in that signature swirl shape instead of scoops.
Lately, soft serve has been getting special treatment from old and new Calgary eateries and ice cream stands. While some are handmaking their own soft serve, others are getting creative by offering multiple flavours or combining it with slushies to make screamers. Either way, you can’t go wrong with this delicious treat.
Here are 13 places in Calgary where you can get your soft serve fix this summer.
This cafe and bakery in Eau Claire started serving soft serve in early June. Choose between vanilla marscapone, strawberry rhubarb or a twist of the two flavours. A cup of soft serve costs $4.99.
222 7 St. S.W., 403-454-0308, alforno.ca
While you can get regular soft serve ice cream at the Calgary Zoo, you can also take your ice cream craving to the next level by ordering a screamer, which is essentially soft serve and slushie in a cup. Soft serve is available at Kitamba Java in the zoo’s Kitamba Caf and at the Dairy Bar, while the screamers are available at the Dairy Bar. Ice cream, ice cream bars and tiger tail sundaes are also available at various concession stands.
210 St. George’s Dr. N.E., 403-232-9300, calgaryzoo.com
The soft serve at Frank & Mabel’s is technically Greek frozen yogurt, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious. The next time you’re at the Calgary Farmers’ Market, order some in a cone or in one of Frank & Mabel’s sundaes.
Calgary Farmers’ Market, 510 77 Ave. S.E., frankandmabels.com
Pineapple Dole Whip is usually only available in Calgary at major events like Stampede. But now, you can get it at Inglewood Drive-In as well. The casual neighbourhood eatery introduced the refreshing pineapple Dole Whip soft serve to its menu last summer and you can enjoy it in a cone or cup. The Inglewood Drive-In also serves regular vanilla soft serve.
802 12 St. S.E., 403-265-5198, inglewooddrivein.com
After a 50-year break, Luke’s Drug Mart reintroduced soft serve to its shops last summer. Luke’s Drug Mart worked with Bar Von Der Fels chef Eric Hendry to create the soft serve, which is made with D Dutchmen Dairy from Sicamous, B.C. There are generally two flavours available at a time and you can get them separate or swirled together. The flavours change monthly, but charcoal, super milk, spruce, rhubarb, burnt honey and cardamon have all been past options. Pick some up at Luke’s Drug Mart’s Bridgeland or Killarney locations.
112 4 St. N.E., 403-266-4142 and 3407 26 Ave. S.W., 403-242-1566, lukesdrugmart.com
In addition to its regular scooped ice cream, local artisanal ice cream shop Made By Marcus usually offers two different kinds of soft serve. Vanilla is usually one of the options, while the second soft serve flavour tends to be a more unique flavour like mango chili, huckleberry buttermilk or pistachio. While you can order the soft serve in a cup or cone, Made By Marcus also uses it to make inventive sundaes. There are three staple sundaes that are always on the menu (the Happy Camper, French Kicks and The Unicorn), plus a seasonal one. Last month’s seasonal sundae featured mango chili swirl soft serve, coconut lime sauce, puffed rice and fried mint.
121, 1013 17 Ave. S.W, 403-452-1692, madebymarcus.ca
Local coffee shop Monogram opened its third location in Britannia earlier this year. It’s the only location where you can get your hands on some of its coffee soft serve, which they make in collaboration with Made By Marcus. Order a regular cup of soft serve or opt for an espresso milkshake made with the soft serve.
800 49 Ave. S.W., monogramcoffee.com
Conveniently situated right beside the Eau Claire Splash Park, this ice cream stand offers tons of ways to experience soft serve ice cream. There are multiple soft serve flavours to choose from (think mocha cappuccino, black cherry and butter pecan), screamers with your choice of soft serve flavour and slush, and ice cream cups with soft serve and candy. You can even pretend you’re in London by ordering soft serve ice cream with a flake (chocolate stick) sticking out of it.
Eau Claire Plaza, 3 St. and Riverfront Ave. S.W., 403-804-1408, facebook.com/moosicecreamyyc/
This new ice cream shop is owned by the same team behind Po-ke. Specializing in decorative soft serve, Sweet Haven is all about the toppings – the tall swirls of soft serve are topped with everything from marshmallows to cookie crumbs to cereal. Try flavours like Death By Chocolate, which feature chocolate soft serve, brownie chunks, chocolate sprinkles, fudge cookie crumbs and caramel and chocolate sauce.
918 Centre St. N.E., facebook.com
Sweet Relief already offers cakes, cookies and cupcakes, and now, you can also get soft serve there. The vanilla and chocolate soft serve is available in cones, but you’ll probably be pretty tempted by one of the sundae options. Sweet Relief uses its soft serve to create feature sundaes, which have come in flavours like brownie, strawberries and cream, Nutella, cherry cheesecake, candied choco-peanut and caramel bananarama in the past.
120 13 Ave. S.W., 587-894-0822, sweetreliefpastries.com
Two Penny is one of the latest restaurants to offer soft serve. It’s available on the dessert menu for those dining in, but you can also order some soft serve to go from the host in the restaurant’s entryway. Two flavours are available individually or swirled. So far, the restaurant has offered flavours like black sesame, strawberry red bean and five spice pineapple. You can also try it as a screamer, which combines the soft serve with either lemon ginger or white soy cola slushie. Both the cups of soft serve and the screamers are $6 each.
1213 1 St. S.W., 403-474-7766, twopenny.ca
Who needs an ice cream cone when you can get your soft serve served in a chimney cake at Utca. The chimney cake, which is basically a freshly made tubular pastry, is covered in toppings like sprinkles or shredded coconut, then filled with soft serve. Add toppings like mini cookies, brownies, berries or berry drizzle on top of the soft serve and you have the ultimate summer treat. Utca offers chocolate, vanilla or vanilla and chocolate twist soft serve, which you can also get in a regular cup.
207 13 Ave. S.E., 403-819-1259, utca.ca
Uzu Taiyaki offers soft serve in rotating Asian-inspired flavours like pandan, black sesame, matcha and ube. But what really takes this soft serve to the next level is that it’s served in a sweet Japanese waffle cake in the shape of a fish known as taiyaki. While you can technically order the soft serve in a cup or waffle cone, the fish-shaped waffle cake is definitely worth trying.
1, 110 2 Ave. S.E., 403-560-5928, facebook.com