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