With the official start of summer here, and Nashville temperatures rising, we’ve been on the hunt for delicious desserts that cool you down. Get out and enjoy some of Nashville’s best ice cream and other cool desserts to beat the heat, whether you’re heading out on Broadway or cozying up in a dive bar.
Top-notch Nashville ice cream treats and cool-down desserts
Ol’ Fashioned Milkshakes and Malts
In 2019, Elliston Place Soda Shop celebrates 80 years of serving the Nashville community out of the same storefront, earning the title of oldest continually operating restaurant in town. The classic aesthetic of the shop harkens back to a time when it seemed like everything could be solved with ice cream, so wash your summer blues away with a homemade milkshake or malt, served up in an old-fashioned soda fountain glass. Or, you can take your milkshake to go, and stroll around nearby Centennial Park with your cold treat in hand.
Cookie Dough Milkshake
NoBaked splashed onto the Nashville dessert scene in 2017, opening two shops within its first year, and locals and visitors alike can’t seem to get enough. Specializing in cookie dough specifically designed to be eaten raw, local Belmont University graduate Megan Feeman created a salmonella-safe alternative to traditional raw cookie dough by using heat-treated flour and leaving out the eggs. For a cool summer treat, venture beyond plain scooped dough and try a Cookie Dough Milkshake. Choose any flavor of cookie dough, and either chocolate or vanilla ice cream, and enjoy!
Can’t go wrong with any paleta
An anchor in the 12 South neighborhood for over a decade, Las Paletas has been wowing Nashvillians with frozen treats made using only the freshest ingredients. Far from your average popsicle, a paleta is a traditional Mexican ice pop made using fresh fruits, nuts or vegetables, and usually a cream or water base. Founders/sisters Norma and Irma Paz wanted to bring a piece of their Mexican heritage to their Nashville home, and their shop serves authentic paletas like you’d find south of the border. Irma learned the art from a traditional paletero (paleta maker) in a rural town in Western Mexico. Hot chocolate with chili, watermelon, and pineapple with chili are perennial favorites, but check @laspaletasmenu on Instagram to see the daily offerings; the menu is continually updated with fresh flavors, showcasing the season’s best produce.
All Hail Starscream Float
The Soda Parlor, owned by husband-and-wife team Olan and Rachel Rogers, has been slinging soda and shakes since 2014, setting into its East Nashville home back in 2016. Olan embodies Nashville’s creative entrepreneurial spirit, successfully launching to YouTube fame in 2008, before creating animated comedy series Final Space. (He executive produces and voices the main character, Gary; season two premieres on Adult Swim Monday, June 24, 2019 at 10:30 p.m. Central.) At the Parlor in Five Points, you’ll find nods to the couple’s eclectic style, plus free arcade games and gluten- and dairy-free dessert options. We recommend trying the All Hail Starscream Float, made with Mike’s Vanilla Ice Cream and Maine Root Mexicane Cola; it’s a refreshingly creamy treat, perfect for a hot day.
Little Mosko’s Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich
Dino’s isn’t just East Nashville’s oldest (and coolest) dive bar, hidden behind an unassuming facade. It serves undeniably great bar food as well. This summer, Dino’s teamed up with local bake shop Little Mosko’s to sling ice cream sandwiches made with Lauren Moskovitz’s famed gluten-free chocolate chunk cookies. Every bit classic with a little less guilt, Little Mosko’s recipe has been converting gluten-lovers all over town, ever since the first batch emerged from the Nashville Entrepreneur Center three years ago. If you’re in search of a casual spot to escape the summer heat, saunter over to Dino’s to play a game of darts and treat yourself to an ice cream sandwich and a cold one. (Their beer, sadly, isn’t gluten-free.)
Coco’s Italian Market has been a staple of the Sylvan Park dining scene since 2010, offering locals a place to indulge in an authentic Italian experience. For a summer treat that will transport you to Tuscany, try an affogato. Meaning “drowned in coffee” in Italian, an affogato is simply espresso poured over gelato, served in a coffee cup. For the unfamiliar, gelato — a classic Italian dessert — is slowly churned into ice cream’s thicker, creamier cousin. Choose two scoops from up to a dozen flavors of freshly homemade gelato, then sit back and enjoy this classic Italian after-meal indulgence. Be sure to stick around to play a round of Bocce on the courts outside the restaurant.
Nashville Hot Ice Cream
One of the few celebrity-backed bars on Broadway that doesn’t tout its alliance on a neon marquee, Nashville Underground is co-owned by brothers Joey and Gavin DeGraw, and boasts four stories of downtown reveling space, plus the highest rooftop on Broadway, complete with a green roof and lawn games. The menu features a variety of “Nashville Hot” dishes, but we’d be remiss not to point you toward a spicy yet spectacularly refreshing dessert concoction that hints at one of Nashville’s iconic tastes. The Nashville Hot Ice Cream dessert (pictured up at the very top, photo: @nashville_underground on Instagram) features a warm Belgian waffle topped with vanilla ice cream, NU’s signature Nashville Hot sauce, candied pecans and crumbled crispy bacon. Bonus: Nashville Underground also serves the coldest draft beer on Broadway, poured at 29 degrees, to help you cool off even if you aren’t in a dessert mood.
Honky Tonk Blonde Sundae
The first-ever combination candy bar, Goo Goo Clusters — a delectable mix of caramel, marshmallow nougat and roasted peanuts covered in milk chocolate — have captivated Nashvillians since 1912. The original candy is mass-produced at a nearby production facility, but inside the Goo Goo Shop just south of Broadway, visitors can watch confectioners create premium Goo Goos, and order specialty treats not available anywhere else. One of our favorites is the Honky Tonk Blonde Sundae: a brown-butter blondie topped with ice cream, salted caramel drizzle, fresh whipped cream and a cherry. The blondie alone is divine, but top it with a little ice cream and it becomes the perfect summer treat.
Looking for a way to explore the best food in Nashville? Walk Eat Nashville walking food tours make it easy — covering East Nashville, Midtown and SoBro/Downtown, each tour includes tastings at multiple restaurants/shops and behind-the-scenes interactions with chefs and owners. Learn more about Walk Eat Nashville food tours.