As someone who came up with a feature called “The Ice Cream Diaries,” you’re probably not surprised that I get excited when I find an ice cream shop that’s open year round. The focus of the latest entry has something even better going for it: It’s located less than a mile from one of the best parks for toddlers and preschoolers in Chicagoland.
Name: The Huntley Dairy Mart
Address: 10706 North Illinois Route 47 in Huntley. Phone: 847-669-5737.
Hours: Sunday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Good for: Anyone who appreciates Americana, the 1950s, ice cream or a good deal.
The Experience: My family spent a recent sunny Sunday at the spot that kicked off the “Great Parks!” series: Discovery Zone at Huntley’s Deicke Park. The pretend play area in the Discovery Zone has a barber shop, a police station and a red plastic shack called the Huntley Dairy Mart. A quick consult of my smartphone revealed the play shack’s inspiration was just up the street, so we after we were done at the park, we set out to check out the real thing.
The Huntley Dairy Mart has been around since 1955, and it doesn’t look like much about it has changed since then. You walk up to an outdoor window to place your order and there are hexagon-shaped picnic tables under an outdoor awning where you can sit down and eat.
I was impressed by the all choices for dipped cones, which included cotton candy sprinkles. (Yes, I get impressed by these things.) There were also lots of varieties of sundaes, floats, sodas, shakes, malts, etc.
The ice cream is soft serve, and while I prefer “hard” ice cream, it was creamy and rich. My daughter and husband both had dip cones – hers was chocolate ice cream dipped in cherry coating with sprinkles, a combo endorsed by the friendly girl who took our order. After looking at “Boston shakes” for a year now, I finally tried one – in this case, a chocolate chip shake topped with a hot fudge sundae. The perfect solution for someone like me who is always torn between shakes and sundaes!
We just tried ice cream during our visit, but the food looked temping, too. Of course it serves burgers, hot dogs and grilled cheese. But the Dairy Mart also offers Polish sausages, Italian sausages, meatball subs, gyros, rib sandwiches, pork tenderloins, spicy chicken sandwiches, barbecue, fish sandwiches, salads and more. From the reviews on Yelp and other food review sites, the food sounds pretty good.
The prices were inexpensive: A hamburger is just $2.10. A grilled cheese just $1.50. Cheese fries were $2.15. I paid $1 for my daughter’s junior dip cone and $2.40 for my small Boston shake.
We enjoyed our ice cream at a wooden table carved with initials of Huntley kids. A wonderful ending to a warm September day.
Make a Day of It: You’re unlikely to drive all the way to Huntley from the western ‘burbs to visit the Dairy Mart. But it would make for a nice combo with either the Discovery Zone at Deicke Park or the many opportunities for apple picking and visiting pumpkin patches in the far northwest suburbs.
Note: The Huntley Dairy Hut does not have restrooms. There is a McDonald’s located across busy Route 47.