Soft-serve ice cream always reminds me of road trips from Colorado to southwestern Minnesota. My family makes that journey every summer and the Frosty Drive In in Valentine, Nebraska, is a long-awaited stop. We order swirled cones or Blizzard-style treats called tornados, eat them in the hot sun, and then hop back in the car.
It was with the Frosty in mind that I stopped into the brand-new Charlie's Ice Cream Social at 44th Avenue and Lowell Boulevard. The sweet spot, located across the street from Tocabe, is owned by Matt and Rosemary Lopez who also run Taza de Café next door.
The old-fashioned ice cream parlor recalls the 1930s soda-jerk era but Charlie's flavors and combinations (and the prices) are modern-day. Choose a twister like the Nice Dream (pictured) which whirls vanilla soft-serve with sea salt, caramel, hot fudge, and Ruffles potato chips (a whole snack bag's worth of chips go into the mix) for a satisfying treat that hits all the salty, sweet, creamy, crunchy notes. Or, create your own flavor combinations from the syrups and mix-ins available.
As with any new place, there are kinks to work out. Yesterday the shop was operating on a cash-only basis until a credit card machine is installed. I also get the sense that Matt and Rosemary are still fiddling with the soft serve mix. The flavor is just this side of treacly sweet and I noticed a message on their Facebook page saying that the machine has been acting up. But once the bumps are smoothed, Charlie's has the makings of becoming a regular neighborhood stop.
3559 W. 44th Ave., 303-521-8113