Please assign a menu to the primary menu location under menu

Best Grub in Chicago’s Wicker Park Neighborhood

According to

Jeni’s Opens Her Splendid Wicker Park Ice Cream World:

WICKER PARK — Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, the much-anticipatedartisanal ice cream from Jeni Britton Bauer — an Ohio-based chef known mostly by her first name — opens Tuesday and yes, there will be free scoops.

Set for 7-10 p.m. Tuesday at 1505 N. Milwaukee Ave., the festivities will include free ceramic mugs featuring the colors of the shop’s ice cream flavors, given away to the first 50 folks in line.

During a preview party on Monday, Umberto Castaneda, a DJ at theCrocodile, 1540 N. Milwaukee Ave., was holding two cones, one for him and the other for his girlfriend, Merideth Olson.

Castenada’s waffle cone was packed with Buckeye state, a blend of salted peanut butter and dark chocolate, while Olson had the black cat espresso, a collaboration between Jeni’s and Chicago-based Intelligensia, using ground espresso beans steeped in cream.

Olson, a clerk at Plenty, a specialty grocery at 2036 W. Division St., said that pints of Jeni’s are among Plenty’s best-sellers.

“It is so popular. I am super glad they are opening a shop here,” Olson said.

Most pints at Jeni’s are $12, and only one flavor is available now — Queen City Cayenne. Scoops of ice cream start at $5 for two flavors.

The cozy shop — with orange chairs and patterned gray tiles —  offers Jeni’s signature flavors, including brambleberry crisp, pistachio and honey.

Five limited-edition flavors (lemon buttermilk tart frozen yogurt; Bangkok peanut, etc.) and four ice cream sandwiches (oatmeal cream, salty caramel with smoked almonds) round out the menu.

Britton Bauer, an art school dropout, said she once thought if she made it to the five-year mark making artisan ice cream she would somehow “be professional.”

“Then it was a 10-year mark and now 20,” Britton Bauer said.

When asked if her children will one day take over the business, Britton Bauer said that is hard to say but whether they are inspired by making ice cream or not, she would want them to run their own businesses.

“Being an entrepreneur is like forming your own world. You get to make up your own rules, surround yourself with awesome people and be inspired every day,” she said.

Though she lives in Ohio, the 41-year-old entrepreneur said she spent her early years in Peoria, where her family was from before they moved to Ohio in the 1980s.

Britton Bauer said that she chose to open her second Chicago shop and 21st nationwide in Wicker Park because it is a neighborhood where you can spend the whole day, going to the park to brunch to shopping and eventually eating ice cream.

Britton Bauer is flying back to Columbus Wednesday after the new shop’s first full day. She plans to visit often.

“I’m just a 45-minute flight away,” Britton Bauer said.

Tim Padavic