Southport Avenue just got sweeter. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams has opened there, and anyone who has sampled the artisan creamery’s goods knows this is big, delicious news. It’s the first Chicago location for the Ohio-based biz known for nonpareil ice cream flavors, including a salty caramel so good you’ll do back flips.

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The ambience at Jeni’s is a treat in itself. Warm and welcoming inside, with a harvest of neutral colors, it also has a seasonal patio with seating. Kids will be drawn to a chalkboard that welcomes spontaneous doodles. But, let’s be honest: They’ll probably be ogling the ice cream case. If you’re looking for typical kiddie flavors, like bubblegum and cookie dough, you won’t find them here. Founder Jeni Briton Bauer believes kids should be treated like independent thinkers with independent tastes and, as such, she makes eating ice cream an adventure.

Choices include grapefruit-hibiscus, brown butter almond brittle, Queen City cayenne (which is like Mexican chocolate) and brambleberry crisp. If you want a real kick, order the black coffee or Kona stout. That most popular flavor is salty caramel; it has a bona fide cult following. Free rainbow sprinkles are offered as a topping for any flavor.

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Jeni burst onto the ice cream scene in 2002 when she opened her first scoop shop in Columbus, Ohio. The one-time arts major has since spread the love throughout the Midwest, maintaining a commitment to local and artisanal ingredients. Though Jeni’s products have long been available in Chicago’s gourmet grocery stores, the Southport shop opening marks an exciting new era for local fans.

Apropos that an adorable ice cream shop would be located on the most adorable street in the city, Jeni’s is accessible via the Southport Brown Line El stop. It’s also a few blocks north of the Belmont Avenue bus, and you’ll find street parking relatively easily.  We all know how sweet that is.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
3404 N. Southport Ave.
Lakeview
773-348-7139
Online: jenis.com

Are you a Jeni’s fan? Let us know in the Comments section below.

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— Matt Kirouac

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Photos: Courtesy of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams