To us, summertime means one thing: Ice cream. And here in the Mile High City, there are dozens of places to get a frosty fix. But for those who eschew dairy (whether due to allergy, intolerance, or preference), finding a tasty frozen treat to cool off with is more of a challenge. Here are five Denver spots that hit the mark when it comes to dairy-free sweets.
Good For: A pre-cocktail ice cream fix
Instead of traditional scoops, Thai-style ice cream is made by spreading a liquid base onto a chilled metal slate. Once frozen, the ice cream is scraped off into neat rolls, arranged in a bowl, and garnished with toppings. Chaos & Cream offers an almond milk-based version of the trendy treat. The dairy-free base can be mixed with any flavor—but we recommend the Oreo cookies and cream variety. While this small operation is typically set up inside the Source on weeknights, it also frequents local farmers’ markets. Check the website for where to find it.
The Source, 3350 Brighton Boulevard, 720-504-7655
Good for: The adventurous eater looking for something different
This south Denver spot serves up Taiwanese shaved ice—which is light, flaky-yet-smooth, creamy, and completely dairy free. The soy milk treat comes in fun flavors such as the Green Tea Mountain, topped with mochi balls, sweet adzuki beans, and condensed soy milk. If you aren’t the tea n’ beans type, choose the Banana Split Summit which is covered in cherries, mixed nuts, and chocolate drizzle, or build your own concoction with a choice of more than a dozen toppings. 4360 E. Evans Ave., 720-612-4546
Good For: A healthy(ish) choice and plenty of options
With nearly 100 varieties of ice pops in rotation, South Pearl Street’s Aikopops really does offer something for everyone. Dairy-free options range from tame choices like coconut-banana and orange-pineapple to experimental flavors such as tart-and-floral lavender lemonade, plum-cardamom, or apple-wasabi. Best of all, Aikopops uses organic ingredients and real sugar, putting most store-bought pops to shame.
1284 S. Pearl St., 303-996-6400
Good For: A date with your dairy-free significant other
If you like your ice cream with a side of Instagram, look no further than Sweet Cooie’s. This pastel-blue nostalgia bomb of a shop serves Little Man Ice Cream flavors, including a few coconut-based alternatives and fruity sorbets. We found the non-dairy ice creams to be a tad gummy, but the fun flavors (horchata and peanut butter-Oreo) more than made up for it. Besides, the romantic atmosphere at this Wes Anderson-esque soda fountain is worth a visit in itself.
3506 E. 12th Ave., 720-550-7140
Good For: If you’re craving the real thing
Sure, High Point typically only has four vegan ice creams and sorbets available at one time, but goodness, are they tasty. The coconut crème-brûlée—studded with chunks of caramelized sugar—is hands down the best dairy-free ice cream I have ever tasted. Plus, it pairs amazingly well with the lemon-lavender or grapefruit sorbet. These satisfying dairy dupes will eliminate all your ice cream envy.
215 S. Holly St., 720-420-9137