Google’s home page has made most of us gape at the number of holidays in existence, and more than once we’ve asked “why in the world did someone make a holiday for that?” One holiday we can all agree on, however, is National Ice Cream Day. It happens every year on the third Sunday in July, during the peak of the South’s most oppressive summer heat. Middle Tennesseans know that heat well, and they’ve got the perfect ice cream shops to remedy it. If you’re in the area for National Ice Cream Day, head to one of these places to get your cool, creamy fix.
Paletas la Desi – Murfreesboro
Gear up your taste buds for the saucier side of ice cream with frozen treats from Murfreesboro’s Paletas la Desi. In case you’re wondering, paletas are Mexican popsicles, and they knock the socks off any popsicles you can buy in the freezer aisle. Located on Middle Tennessee Boulevard in Murfreesboro, Paletas la Desi offers more than 30 different kinds of house-made paletas, ranging from milk-based creations like strawberry and banana-Nutella to fruity flavors like pineapple and mango with real pieces of fruit inside. They even have an avocado paleta! If you’re not in the mood for a popsicle, grab a chocolate-dipped banana instead or hit up their vast selection of ice cream, sorbets, and yogurt. They’ve got any traditional flavor you’d like, along with intense citrus and exotic fruit flavors that Latin American ice cream shops are known for. To top it all off, they offer several flavors of aguas frescas, or “fresh waters,” made with real fruit to quench any thirst and craving on a hot summer day. They also make a mean mangonada if you want to literally spice up your National Ice Cream Day celebration.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – 3 Locations in Nashville
Ask almost any Nashvillian where they get their ice cream, and they’re probably going to say Jeni’s. Founder Jeni Britton Bauer is a former art student with a hobby for mixing essential oils and perfume. Her background shows through in over 30 made-from-scratch ice creams, with unheard of flavors like Osmanthus & Blackberry Crackle and Wildberry Lavender. Jeni’s sorbets aren’t lacking in originality, either, with flavors like Riesling Poached Pear and Blackcurrant Lambic. All their frozen yogurts are made with buttermilk, giving them a dense, smooth texture that machine frozen yogurts can’t compete with. This popular shop locally sources as many ingredients as possible, and they never use any synthetic mixes or dyes, so all their ice creams are as fresh and happy as you’d expect a Nashville treat to be.
Hattie Jane’s Creamery -Columbia and Murfreesboro
To really cool off the country way for National Ice Cream Day, head to Hattie Jane’s Creamery, located right inside the doors of Pucketts’ restaurants in Murfreesboro and Columbia. Both locations serve 10-15 original southern flavors of locally-sourced, small-batch ice cream with a large variety of toppings that include amaretto whipped cream and candied bacon! The shop in Murfreesboro specializes in gourmet coffee, while Columbia houses a Swirl Freeze machine that lets you blend up your ice cream and toppings in whatever combination you desire. Recently, the Murfreesboro location started selling fresh pints of milk from Middle Tennessee State University’s newly minted MTSU Creamery, run by the college’s agriculture department. Buying from the creamery helps out the school, and any Blue Raider will tell you that the chocolate milk is to die for! Whichever Hattie Jane’s location you choose, make sure you grab a baked goodie and a fresh pint to go on your way out the door.
Legato Gelato – Nashville
We’ve got Mexican ice cream on the list. Why not throw in Italian ice cream, too? Located next to Taco Mamacita in Nashville, Legato Gelato is yet another shop that uses locally-sourced ingredients to mix up nearly 40 flavors of gelato and sorbetto. This lower-fat, less-aerated treat packs a dense flavor punch at a lower temperature than regular ice cream, so rich flavors like Dark Chocolate or Burnt Sugar and Bourbon Brittle will satiate your need for an intense dessert in just a scoop or two. Legato Gelato’s founder, Terri-Ann Nicholls, studied with gelato maestros in Italy before starting her business in Nashville, so if you’re looking for what she calls “legit” gelato in the Middle Tennessee area, this is the place to go.