Hot dog ice cream at a new speakeasy cafe just opened in Chicago


A non-traditional museum has created a hot dog-flavored ice cream, but only for its visitors in Chicago.

“The Ice Cream Museum is an experiential place,” said Maryellis Bunn, co-founder of the attraction, which opened July 16 at the Tribune Tower. “Our mission is to make everyone feel like a kid again.”

A new flagship in town, with six locations around the world, features the brand’s only speak-easy style cafe.

“We’ve built an entire cafe that’s open day and night for all of our visitors to enjoy, which has an ice cream-focused menu with something for adults and kids,” Bunn said. “Five exclusive treats come with your ticket purchase.”

Cocktails cost extra, but hot dog ice cream is included.

“It’s hot dog-flavored soft serve in a pink bun,” Bunn said. “We worked with Sarah Masoni, who is an Oregon-based food scientist, to construct our ode to the Chicago dog.”

Milano Bakery, founded in 1915 in Joliet, makes the pink buns. The museum will offer different hot dog toppings for vegetarian ice cream, but never ketchup.

“We took our Chicago Dog creation very, very seriously,” Bunn said. “When we started working on this project four years ago, one of the first things we did was a deep dive, and one day we had like all the dogs in Chicago ahead of us.”

There are no savory items currently on the menu.

“We’re a sweets place,” Bunn said.

Visitors enter via a replica “L” train – on the imaginary pink Sprink-L line.

“It’s going to take you outside, into the Chicago Tribune Tower, and then transport you into our world of ice cream,” Bunn said.

From the “L”, you will enter the speak-easy, where you can have a milkshake or a Pinktini. Adults can order cocktails, and kids might like the drinks designed for play.

An optional ice cream-making class in the Ice Cream Lab teaches the history and science behind ice cream, with hands-on instructions for creating your own flavor of ice cream.

Twelve exhibits culminate in a spray pool and gift shop.

Visitors typically stay 45-90 minutes.

“But once you’re in the doors, you’re welcome to stay as long as you want,” Bunn said.

This is the only place to try hot dog ice cream in Chicago.

“Maybe if you like it so much, one day we’ll make a cart out of it and put it somewhere else,” Bunn said with a laugh. “But for now, it’s included with the ticket.”

435 N. Michigan Ave.,

A self-proclaimed “talking restaurant” has quietly opened in the Goose Island neighborhood near Morton Salt’s former warehouse. Owner Kimberly Moore, founder and president of KDM Engineering, brought in chef Brooks Hart, last at the Little Goat Diner, to open 1308 Elston on June 7. and oatmeal, plus a 13 “Old” 8 Fashioned cocktail finished with maple smoke.

1308 N. Elston Ave., 872-829-3335,

The Jeff & Judes grocery store closed in Humboldt Park, but became a restaurant in record time. Chef Hanna Coleman, formerly with J&J, and beverage director Sam Yar revealed Do-Over Diner on June 17. You’ll find the classic two-egg breakfast platter, a seasonal farm vegetable omelet, and a fudgy patty, all available late at night on weekends.

1024 N. Western Ave., 773-661-1227,

Piccolo Sogno co-owner Ciro Longobardo has opened not one, but two new Italian bakeries in Chicago. Dolci Amori in Wicker Park began cooking on June 7, and a second location in Lakeview East followed on July 16. The pasticcerie specializes in pastries, with a unique rum baba in a cup, as well as pizzas and paninis to come.

2010 W. Pierce Ave. (Wicker Park); 3025 N. Clark Street (Lakeview East); 312-285-2732;

A husband and wife team has transformed their sweet pop-up into a beautiful boutique in Little Village. Aldo Rios and Ana Maciel launched El Churro Shop on June 29. You’ll find their signature Mexican churros, the traditional fried dough available by the dozen, or creative flavors such as cajeta with Galletas Marias cookies, as well as milkshakes and a few sandwiches, including avocado toast.

3536 W. 26th St., 773-801-1818,

A former Lettuce Entertain You chef and persistent pandemic entrepreneur, has opened her own brick-and-mortar restaurant in Rogers Park. Mona Sang celebrated the official opening of Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining on June 19. It offers traditional Khmer dishes, in a weekly changing menu, recently with kuy teav tuk (beef and shrimp noodle soup), named ansom chek (banana sticky rice) plus a fan-favorite egg rolls filled of chicken and cellophane noodles.

2043 Howard St. W., 312-626-7710,

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Footman Hospitality, the group behind Emporium Arcade Bar and other high-profile establishments, has transformed a long dark corner of Logan Square. Quality Time, what they describe as a neighborhood bar, started sinking on June 24. Look for the vintage outdoor awnings, and you’ll find signature cocktails, including a Slumericano mixing sweet vermouth and Old Style beer, and a patio on which to sip Spagghett, the summer drink of aperitif poured down the neck of a bottle of Miller High Life beer.

2934 W. Diversey Avenue,

Art Smith, perhaps best known as Oprah Winfrey’s former personal chef, has just opened his long-awaited Southern restaurant at Navy Pier. Reunion began serving on July 19. The menu features Chef Art’s famous fried chicken and the traditional Banana Pineapple Hummingbird Cake, both fan favorites at his beloved Table 52.

600 E. Grand Avenue, 312-224-1415,

Know a Chicago-area restaurant or bar that’s new and noteworthy? Email food critic Louisa Chu at [email protected].

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