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Must-stop summer sweets shops

With more sunlight and warmer weather coming every day, there's more time to spend outside and more chances to revel in summer treats that make the season sweet.

The city is home to both the classic and contemporary stands, with Mario's Italian Lemonade Stand, The Original Rainbow Cone and Australian Homemade among the most delighting spots.

Mario's has long ruled the scene on Taylor Street, outlasting many pushcart operations and other various stands. With its slushlike lemonade available in a multitude of flavors, it's no wonder why the small stand incites long lines during the summer.

Opened in the 1950s by the DiPaola family, Mario's sits nestled between bigger businesses and houses on Taylor Street, just across from Al's Italian Beef. The lemonade is served in sizes small enough for a quick treat or large enough to share after a romantic Little Italy dinner. No visit to UIC or Little Italy is complete without a stop at Mario's.

The Original Rainbow Cone's name says it all. The stand has been serving up truly multi-colored cones since 1926. Chocolate, strawberry, pistachio and Palmer House (cherry, with chunks of cherry and walnut) ice creams and orange sherbet are tastefully packed into your cone.

And while the rainbow hairdos of Dennis Rodman may have been an entertaining novelty years ago, this rainbow is far from just fun. Made before your eyes, the flavors, which alone make for a wonderful treat, are combined to make a most heavenly desert. Located on the South side at 9233 S. Western, the shop is open year round, from noon to 8 p.m. during the week and closing at 9 p.m. on weekends.

And for each established stand in the city, a new corporate model seems to appear each week. With Dairy Queens, Coldstone Creameries and Oberweis Dairies filling suburbs and trickling towards the city, sticking with the traditional spots that Chicagoans have loved since childhood may seem like the best idea.

One new spot that should not be approached with hesitation is Australian Homemade, located within Macy's on State Street. Many loyal citizens have done their best to stay clear of the building after the infamous switch from Marshall Fields, but worry not; Australian Homemade was there before the name change.

Featuring coffee and chocolates in addition to ice cream, the internationally known stand serves only 100 percent natural ingredients, meaning no outside additives or flavorings. Flavors change weekly, with vanilla and chocolate as the only mainstays, allowing there to be something new every time. If the Macy's taboo is too strong for even a small taste of Australian hospitality, worry not. There is another Chicago location at 3425 N. Southport.

So take advantage of the added heat with one of the many cool treats the city has to offer. You will surely not be disappointed.

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