There are few sounds that can sling emotions into sharp summer focus more quickly than the melody of the ice cream truck. The anxious expectation of childhood's mad ice cream truck scramble resonates well into adulthood: Will there be enough time? From the back yard through the kitchen, the frantic begging for money from mom, the music getting closer, bursting through the front door and out to the sidewalk. Wait! And then the payoff — cool, creamy, dripping satisfaction.
After a treat-free winter and spring, all of a sudden summer allows dessert in the middle of the day. It's as if summer's here just to deliver ice cream to young gluttonous and grubby hands.
What could be simpler or more pleasurable than something cold and sugary to act as balm to summer's heat?
JAKE'S ICE CREAM Jake's stands out not just for its vibrant flavors, but also for its subtlety: The brown-sugar ice cream is a smooth caress of your tastebuds, never gritty or cloying. The Chocolate Slap Yo Mama is justly celebrated, being not so much an ice cream flavor as an enhanced chocolate delivery system. The newest location is in the cute Old Fourth Ward Irwin Street Market. 660 Irwin St. 404-586-0920, and other metro Atlanta locations. www.jakesicecream.com.
LA CHURRERIA CAFÉ AND BAKERY Better known for its churros and baked goods, this Latin bakery also serves ice cream and paletas, or Mexican popsicles made with fresh, seasonal fruit. 3336 Buford Highway. 404-477-1811.
MAGGIEMOOS ICE CREAM TREATERY Maggie's offers a wide variety of flavors, many amoosingly cow-themed (get it?), like Cinamoo Bun and Pina Cowlada. Plus, it does the whole mix-in thing, so you can make up your own kind of treat. 4468 Chamblee Dunwoody Road. 770-454-9866. www.maggiemoos.com.
MORELLI'S GOURMET ICE CREAM This relative newcomer to the ice cream scene (and CL Critics Pick for Best Ice Cream) has us swooning, not just for the creamy, obviously storemade texture, but also for the outrageous flavors. This summer's favorite: ginger lavender. 749 Moreland Ave. 404-622-0210. www.morellisicecream.com.
PAOLO'S GELATO Paolo's offers exotic flavors such as tiramisu, fig, violet and basil, as well as standbys such as mint chocolate and strawberry. There are also live webcams of the store streaming online, so if you want gelato but are too lazy to leave your house, you can torture yourself by watching other people eat. 1025 Virginia Ave. 404-607-0055. www.paolosgelato.com.
SARAH JEAN'S ICE CREAM Sarah Jean's is an independently owned ice cream shop, serving up vanilla and chocolate (and a few other classics), banana splits and an old-timey feel. 109 N. Park Ave., Marietta. 770-424-5179.
STAR PROVISIONS One of the gourmet shop's best-kept secrets is its fantastic soft-serve ice cream. Vanilla's the only flavor available, and you can get it topped with caramel or olive oil. 1198 Howell Mill Road. 404-365-0410. www.starprovisions.com.
ZESTO The restaurant's catchphrase, "a flashback to the tender youth of American fast food," is for once an advertising slogan we can get behind. The soft-serve ice cream, classic banana splits and shakes are pure nostalgia. 377 Moreland Ave. 404-523-1973, and other metro Atlanta locations. www.zestoatlanta.com.
— With additional reporting by Gloria Love