Must-Eat Summer Treats

The heat is on, Sacramento. For those of you looking for some cool comfort during these dog days, we’ve got 10 delicious ways—from delicate macaron ice cream sandwiches to decadent pie milkshakes—to help you chill out this summer.
Must Eat Summer Treats
Photo by Max Whittaker

Summer Treats Divider

Real Pie Company's Pie Shake Summer Treats Portrait

Photo by Anna Wick

Real Pie Company’s Pie Shakes
If a slice of Real Pie Company’s seasonal, flaky-crusted jumbleberry pie (a flavor riot of marionberry, raspberry, sweet cherry and blueberry) served with a scoop of custom buttermilk ice cream from Gunther’s is good—and trust us, it is—then it only stands to reason that the same combo blended into drinkable, spoonable deliciousness would be the epitome of greatness. When husband-and wife owners Kira O’Donnell Babich and Fred Babich relaunched the bakery in Curtis Park in 2018 (the original Real Pie had closed its oven doors 10 years prior), they added pie shakes to their new menu, and the frosty choose-your-own-adventure offerings—you can couple any kind of house-made pie with any flavor of Gunther’s ice cream—quickly gained a devoted following. Kira recommends pairing the butterscotch banana cream pie with vanilla ice cream—though customers have made less traditional matches like key lime pie with caramel ice cream. For our money, you can’t go wrong with the one-two punch of the semisweet chocolate cream pie and strawberry ice cream, which evokes the taste of freshly dipped chocolate-covered strawberries. Pro tip: Ask for the dessert to be mixed “extra chunky” for a more textured mouthful. Who says you can’t have your shake and eat it too? 2425 24th St. 916-838-4007. —Curtis Yee


Conscious Creamery Gelato Tacos Summer Treats Portrait

Photo by Andrea Seppinni

Conscious Creamery’s Gelato Tacos

As novelty ice cream truck desserts go, it’s hard to top the cult status of the classic Choco Taco. Fast forward almost 40 years, and Conscious Creamery’s husband-and-wife owners Kevin and Andrea Seppinni have reimagined that piece of pop culture history with their sumptuous Gelato Taco—and you won’t have to call the wambulance after indulging either, as everything this local scooperie makes is vegan and gluten free. The signature vanilla fudge taco is a decadent masterpiece: Andrea’s velvety cashew-cream-based vanilla gelato (a recipe that took nine months to perfect) is nestled in the fold of a fudge-lined quilted shell—its rich, chewy texture is reminiscent of a Dutch stroopwafel—and topped with a crust of hardened dark chocolate sauce and toasted almonds. For years, this fan favorite was only available at pop-up events and select vendors—you may recognize Conscious Creamery’s “Icicle Tricycle” making the rounds at farmers’ markets and outdoor concerts around town—but in April, the treat found a permanent home when the Seppinnis (who are both vegan) opened their first brick-and-mortar shop in Oak Park’s Triangle District, which also offers scoops of rotating house-made gelato flavors (think cookies and cream or matcha strawberry ripple swirled with peak-season strawberry preserve or luscious mocha almond fudge spiked with Camellia Coffee Roasters brew). And if you time your taco visit around major holidays, you can bite into limited-edition renditions like the Independence Day-themed Red, White & Blueberry featuring strawberry, blueberry and vanilla gelatos adorned with a firework of stars-and-stripes sprinkles. Nostalgia never tasted so good. 3400 Broadway. 916-407-1175. —Hannah Ross


Poor Reds Golden Cadillac Copy

Photo by Marc Thomas Kallweit

Poor Red’s Golden Cadillac

For a cool blast from the past, jump into your jalopy and cruise on out to Poor Red’s Bar-B-Q, a charming roadhouse in El Dorado that serves up one of the region’s most storied frozen cocktails. The oft-told tale behind the tipple holds that in 1952, a newly engaged couple pulled up to Poor Red’s on their way to Lake Tahoe, and in a very Hepburn and Tracy move, the bride-to-be requested a beverage to match their gold-colored Cadillac. Bartender Frank Klein got to work, pouring Galliano liqueur, white crème de cacao and half-and-half into a blender with ice. The result was a frothy, flaxen-hued libation with a sweet, herbaceous flavor that immediately exploded in popularity—variations on the drink have been shared in publications like Saveur (which adds vanilla ice cream for a boozy milkshake), and it has long been a favorite of Bill Murray, who would allegedly introduce newcomers to the cocktail in the ’80s by ordering them two by two, the better to “really appreciate them.” Today Poor Red’s—which is the No. 1 purveyor of Galliano in the world—serves up more than 2,500 of the blended beverages a month in elegant champagne coupes accompanied by a sidecar. And whether you have just one, or make it a double like Mr. Murray, you’ll be happy you tried this golden coldie. 6221 Pleasant Valley Rd. El Dorado. 530-622-2901. —Jessica Rine


Ginger Elizabeth’s Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches Summer Treats Portrait

Photo by Ginger Elizabeth Hahn

Ginger Elizabeth’s Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches

The sun is out, the shops are open, and it’s finally time to bask in a collective cultural moment after our long confinement: It’s time to flâner, as the French say, or leisurely stroll through the city. Our City of Light counterparts may do so with a delicate macaron in hand, but we in the City of Trees prefer to take our Parisian delicacy with a bonus dollop of decadence. Enter Ginger Elizabeth’s irresistible (and eminently portable) macaron ice cream sandwiches. The midtown desserterie’s roster rotates weekly (check the shop’s social media for flavor announcements every Tuesday), but the ever-popular salty caramel is always available—until it sells out for the day, that is. This signature confection has earned a loyal following for its airy yet chewy macaron cookie (a technique-driven pastry of almond meal, egg whites and sugar whose recipe dates back to at least the Renaissance), enclosing silky handmade ice cream made from Straus Family Creamery milk that features the perfect balance of sweet caramel and Jacobsen sea salt. Or you might luck into last summer’s succes d’estime, a refreshing lemon gingersnap, or the mint chip chocolate brownie sando, which is dipped in chocolate and topped with Valrhona pearls, and boasts cool mint ice cream with fudge brownie chunks and candy bits. Nibble away as you spot signs of la vie bohème returning to the streets. 1801 L St. 916-706-1738. —Jennifer Resnicke


 Burger Patch Quake Shake

Photo by Anna Wick

Burger Patch’s Earth Quake Shakes

The shakes at the regional plant-based fast food chain Burger Patch have been known to almost bring their vegan patrons to tears—tears of nostalgia, that is. They’ve also turned dairy devotees into repeat customers—that’s how much these creamy, slurpable, milk-free marvels taste like their traditional counterparts. The drinkable dessert—a balanced blend of cashew, almond and soy milk, sweetened with organic agave nectar—comes in rich chocolate and smooth vanilla bean (you can also go 50/50, with alternating layers of the two flavors) at Burger Patch outlets in midtown, East Sacramento, Davis and come fall, Land Park. They are of course delicious as is, but check out #PatchSecretMenu on Instagram for tasty under-the-radar improvisations, like the Earth Quake Crumble Shake, which drops melty grilled-to-order vegan salted chocolate chip cookie pieces on top for a quintessential cookies-and-milk moment. And mark your calendars for seasonal treats like the summertime S’more Patch Shake (with layers of chocolate sauce, gluten-free graham cracker crumbs and toasted marshmallows, it’s the ultimate campfire in a cup) and an autumnal iteration with house-made apple pie filling and deep-fried gluten-free pie crust. If you’re late to the plant-based diet revolution, we can think of no better way to shake things up. —Jessica Rine


 Alaro Craft Brewery’s New Float Flight

Photo by Anna Wick

Alaro Craft Brewery’s New Float Flight

As soon as it was introduced in 2018 as part of Alaro’s launch menu, the midtown brewery’s float flight took off in popularity. Indeed, the quaffable quartet, combining your pick of on-tap brews with vanilla, Dutch chocolate or two-tone swirl soft-serve crafted with dairy from Petaluma’s Straus Family Creamery, served as the perfect capper to a summer meander through Alaro’s tapas menu. But now you can doff your thinking cap and let the experts create the flavor magic. Owner Ray Ballestero has upped the ante by replacing the original grouping with a chef’s choice lineup, complete with house-made sundae toppings, that sends the flight soaring to new heights. Featuring a base of La Luna on Nitro oatmeal stout in each 4-ounce glass, the journey starts with just a palate-cleansing vanilla soft serve on top, then crescendos with a vanilla-chocolate swirl drizzled with chef David Santana’s zesty raspberry coulis. Next up, another soft-serve swirl topped with caramel syrup and dusted with sea salt, followed by the grand finale, a chocolate dollop finished with Tcho dark chocolate syrup. With this new flight of fancy, Alaro has truly achieved liftoff. 2004 Capitol Ave. 916-436-7711. —Curtis Yee

Osaka-Ya’s Snow Cones

Photo by Jeremy Sykes

Osaka-Ya’s Snow Cones

Local lore has it that Sacramento’s scorching summer sidewalks can fry an egg sunny-side up in minutes—something you may have first heard as a child from your mom or dad as you stood wilting while waiting your turn at Osaka-Ya’s walk-up window to receive what surely seemed like a winter miracle in July: a towering, frosty, flaky snow cone drenched in flavorful syrup. Southside Park’s beloved Japanese confectionery, regionally renowned for its mochi and manju, has been making it snow since it opened in 1963, when owner Linda Nakatani’s parents set up a hand-crank ice shaver her great uncle sent from Japan. With 17 flavors like watermelon, sour apple and mango, and additions like condensed milk and sweet red adzuki beans, the range of choices facing a newcomer can be daunting, so we recommend breaking the ice with the signature “Tiger’s Blood”—a conical pile of shaved ice doused in a hearty stream of a vividly chromatic fruit punch flavor with notes of cherry and coconut—and plussing it with an optional scoop of vanilla ice cream from Gunther’s. Treat in hand, it’s a race against the sun’s rays to tackle your personal Mount Everest, but as you work your way down, your spoon will soon strike warm-weather gold when the velvety ice cream meets the fruity shaved ice, at which point your summer anthem will officially become, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.” 2215 10th St. 916-446-6857. —Hannah Ross

Devil May Care Ice Cream Summer Treats Portrait

Photo by Jess Milbourn

Devil May Care’s 350+ Flavors

Call it death by 1,000 tasting spoons. The true omnivore’s dilemma is that internal battle we sweet tooths immediately face upon walking into an ice cream parlor: Go with the tried-and-true flavor or the one that’s untested and untasted? And which one? If this is you too, then enter Devil May Care Ice Cream & Frozen Treats’ new downtown location at your own risk: Owner Jess Milbourn stopped counting the number of concoctions in rotation at 350, many of them veering into eyebrow-raising yet touched-by genius territory. Recent cult-favorite inventions include the Cheese and Crackers, a snackable Ritz cracker ice cream with smooth aged cheddar and a swirl of bacon jam; and Jake’s Breakfast, a pancake ice cream with candied bacon bits and grated salt-cured egg yolk courtesy of chef Chris Barnum-Dann from Localis. For the less adventurous, DMC also scoops out classics with a twist—like coffee spiced with cardamom or cookie dough made with milk steeped in chocolate chip cookies—and old standbys like chocolate, pistachio and vanilla, all made with organic milk from Petaluma’s Straus Family Creamery. But with plenty of tasting spoons on hand, this summer may be the perfect opportunity to break out of your cool comfort zone and discover a sweet surprise. 710 K St. 916-594-9476. —Jessica Rine


Merlino's Summer Treats portrait

Photo by Marc Thomas Kallweit

Merlino’s Orange Freeze

What do Ronald Reagan, Jerry Brown and Abbott and Costello have in common? They were all fans of Merlino’s orange freeze, the ballpark and fairground staple that has kept Sacramentans cool since 1946, when Bauldie and Mary Merlino opened the first Merlino’s stand at 3rd Avenue and Stockton Boulevard. The frosty concoction is a sweet-tart blend of orange juice, water and sugar churned into a chilly treat with a texture that lies somewhere between that of shaved ice and sorbet (for a more Creamsicle-y consistency, you can get it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle). While the original Merlino’s location closed its doors in 1992, the secret recipe was eventually purchased by the owners of the River Cats, and after a one year hiatus, this taste of local history is back at Sutter Health Park for the 2021 baseball season, serving up summer during every homestand (you can also get your loving spoonfuls at Water & Salt shop in West Sacramento). Much has changed over the past 75 years, but we’re thankful this is one Sacramento classic that has managed to stay in the game. —Jessica Rine


Taylor's Summer Treats Portrait

Photo by Max Whittaker

Taylors’ 340 Milkshakes

With each new visit to Taylors, we’re shook—in the best way—by the sheer number of shakes on the menu. There are 340 to be specific (each made with ice cream from Roseville’s D&P Creamery), although Frank Tofanelli—who with his wife, Kim Brown, took over the Loomis burger joint from original owners Pat Taylor and Suzanne Carlon in 2019—says that with all the ingredients they have on hand (from dozens of toppings like bacon crumbles and apple butter to over 100 syrup varieties like bubblegum and bourbon caramel), the list could easily grow to the thousands. Feeling dizzy with the possibilities? For grownups, we recommend celebrating these sunny halcyon days with Champagne Cake, which contains rich custard, (nonalcoholic) rum flavoring and bits of Twinkie that turn almost cheesecake-like blended with the thick vanilla ice cream. Another favorite is the floral dark chocolate lavender (vanilla ice cream swirled with chocolate and lavender Torani syrups), which pairs exceptionally well with Taylors’ signature house-made potato chips. Meanwhile, the kiddos will love the theatrical Sharkbite, infused with blue raspberry syrup and topped with a float of grenadine (a cheeky nod to blood in the water) and a school of gummy sharks. In the name of, ahem, research, we’d be happy to drink a milkshake a day to make our way through the full lineup—now, if only there were 340 days of summer. 3636 Taylor Rd. Loomis. 916-652-8255.—Jennifer Resnicke