Last week, we rounded up the scoop, putting together our list of the top ten ice cream parlors in town. But there are more opportunities to get a good brain gel than just ice cream, especially here in Denver, where endless sunny days make for creative and fresh desserts. Here, listed in alphabetical order, are the five best places for frozen treats that aren’t ice cream, from dairy-free treats to superfood candies.
1284 Pearl Street South
You probably gave up popsicles some time before entering high school, realizing that sticky frozen popsicles were nothing but sugar and food coloring. But Aikopops makes flavors for adults, going way beyond the standard cherry, grape, and orange. New flavors appear faster than Pokémon Go characters, but past favorites have included Orange-Wasabi, Cucumber-Sesame, and Coconut-Nutella. Find the cart at special events around town or head to the South Pearl Street shop for a well-made sandwich before indulging in an ice pop with real pop.
Ba-Nom-a-Nom’s creamy, smooth desserts get their richness from frozen bananas, not heavy cream. So go ahead and indulge in founder Sarah Ladley’s healthy blends, with tropical flavors like mango or pineapple, fruity blackberry or rich chocolate-banana, all with no added sugar. If bananas aren’t your thing, try the watermelon base instead for a real taste of summer.
681 East Louisiana Avenue
Berriegood’s frozen bowls and smoothies aren’t technically desserts; they are more like meal replacements in a cold, fruity form. Acai berry or dragon fruit (also known as pitaya) form the frozen base, and toppings range from toasted coconut to cocoa nibs. For a burst of flavor bursts and a dose of antioxidants, try the Snap Dragon Bowl, made with day-glo dragon fruit tossed with banana, strawberries, pineapple and coconut milk, then topped with granola with hemp seeds, coconut flakes, honey and more banana. Indulging has never been so healthy.
3. The Invention Room
2020 Laurent Street
The Inventing Room started out as an ice cream parlor, but chef Ian Kleinman doesn’t just serve boring flavors in cardboard cups. Instead, each scoop is made to order, frozen to a creamy consistency in a bath of liquid nitrogen in seconds. But this is only the beginning. All sorts of sweet and savory snacks are cold-processed, from caramel corn (often offered as free treats to online guests) to the aptly named Really, Really Cold Cheetos. For a trip back to childhood, order the Peanut Butter Glazed Mousse, a cylinder of creamy goodness sprinkled with chocolate and topped with a cloud of grape cotton candy. It’s like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the form of a frozen dessert.
4360 Evans Avenue East
Snowlab serves a style of shaved ice that originated in Taiwan but has become popular on the West Coast. The base is made with soy milk frozen in a wheel and spun on a sort of dessert lathe to produce a sweet, creamy ribbon of confectionery that lays down in a cup. Other fun textures and fruity flavors are added to create a unique treat far from other frozen desserts. One of the weirdest – and best – is the Avocado Mountain, with shaved ice tinted a pale avocado green and topped with “dragon’s eyes” (it’s really a tropical fruit called a longan ), mango boba and condensed milk. The funky flavors and smooth sweetness prove more refreshing than sweeter, heavier desserts, and the boba — which aren’t the firm, chewy tapioca balls found in Vietnamese smoothies — pops in your mouth. for a juicy explosion. But there are plenty of other exotic choices on the rotating menu: green tea is always popular, but keep an eye out for black sesame, coffee or black rice.