FARGO - For the last few years, downtown Fargo has become home to upscale restaurants, trendy bars and cute boutiques. But you probably wouldn't say it was the best place in the world to get an ice cream cone.
Cupcakes, yes. Pastries, sure. Cookies, you betcha. But not much in the way of delicious dairy treats. That all changed this spring when three new ice cream businesses opened within a few blocks of each other on or near Broadway.
When you're downtown now and scream for ice cream, clearly, someone is listening.
But how do you know which place to choose? We decided to go on a downtown ice cream taste test to help you navigate the perfect frozen dairy destination. (It's a tough job, but someone had to do it.).
T & Crepe Cafe - Thai Ice Cream Roll
72 Broadway N.
T & Crepe Cafe was already a popular choice in Grand Forks when the owners decided to open a shop in Fargo this spring. Since then, crowds have been steady for the tea, crepes and especially the ice cream rolls, which are made by pouring a liquid ice cream mixture on a cold metal plate.
"It's probably between 20 or 25 degrees below zero. Almost as cold as some North Dakota winter days," Owner and Manager Tian Lu says with a smile.
Once the mixture is poured onto the plate and starts to freeze, it's combined with candy, nuts, fruits or other fixings, then spread out into a large rectangle on the plate. From there, it's rolled into cylinders, placed vertically into serving cups and topped with more toppings or syrups.
"I think one thing that sets us apart is the ice cream is created right in front of the customer and they seem to enjoy it," says Lu.
Popular choices: Lu says the Panda Panda, a creation featuring Oreos, has been their bestseller. A close second is the Bumblebee, featuring banana and Nutella. If you want something a little different, try the Purple Haze made with taro, which Lu describes as similar to a sweet potato. It sounds weird, but our taste testers found it to be delicious.
Silver Lining Creamery
123 Broadway N.
This is Michelle Pulling's second Silver Lining Creamery store. She opened the first in Rapid City, S.D., in 2014. She says the business name reflects her view on life and the role ice cream can have in helping people through both the highs and lows.
"You eat ice cream when you're bummed; you eat ice cream when you're happy. You use it as a celebratory thing," she told The Forum when it opened. "Everyone needs a little silver lining in life."
She says their 18 premium ice cream flavors rotate every couple of weeks and are made seven days a week in their Fargo store. They'll always have classic flavors like vanilla, salted caramel and chocolate. But Silver Lining draws the most attention for its unusual flavors, such as lavender honey, sage, lemongrass and huckleberry.
"We tried a ranch flavor once, but it was horrible!" Pulling says with a laugh. "We won't be doing that again."
But she says their natural, almost earthy flavors seem to satisfy a niche.
"The nice thing is in downtown Fargo, there are a lot of foodies who are looking for ice cream that isn't so sugary-sweet," she says.
However, options abound for those with a sweet tooth, including the Teddy's Birthday Party, which they made for a TEDx event in Fargo.
If you can't decide which flavor to get, Pulling recommends a flight of ice cream with samples of a few, instead of a scoop of one. Or she says you can get a "cloud."
"You might have a scoop of coffee ice cream, but then top if with a smaller scoop or cloud of a different flavor like hazelnut," she says.
Popular Choices: This month, Pulling says the Oreo cheesecake has been a top seller. But if you'd like something a little different, the blueberry basil crumble is a delicious option - not too sweet, but out-of-this-world good.
Scoop N Dough Candy Co.
206 Roberts Alley
Scoop N Dough is an answer to the prayers of anyone who misses the days when Mom let you lick the beaters after she made a batch of cookie dough. Health officials put the kibosh on that because the raw eggs and dry flour in the batter can cause salmonella and E. coli.
"Our cookie dough has no eggs in it and is made with heat-treated flour, so it's perfectly safe to eat," says Manager Morgan Tiani. "Our owner's mom helped perfect the recipes, and everyone who comes in seems to be a big fan of it."
In all, Scoop N Dough offers eight cookie doughs and 16 hard-served ice creams as well as several specialty popcorns.
You can either order just cookie dough or just ice cream, but Tiani says most customers order both together. We found the creamy ice cream cut the sweetness of the cookie dough and made for a fantastic bite.
Even though it's located off Broadway, business has been brisk and they've served at outside events like Happy Harry's RibFest and the Downtown Fargo Street Fair.
Popular choices: Big muddy ice cream (a dark chocolate, brownie-filled ice cream) served with peanut butter cup cookie dough is a decadent and rich choice. Pirate's bounty ice cream (caramel ice cream with M&M's and Oreos) pairs well with s'mores cookie dough.
We're not just being North Dakota or Minnesota nice here: All of these places are fabulous.
They offer creamy, delicious, affordable ice cream treats, each with different options. You can't lose no matter who you choose.Try all three if you'd like - just don't forget to wear an elastic waistband.