What: Little Man Ice Cream
Where: 2620 16th Street, Denver
Pros: Handmade ice cream, gelato, and ice cream sandwiches in proprietary flavors like salted Oreo and space junkie (raspberry ice cream, brownies, marshmallow fluff).
Cons: This place is popular—sometimes flavors sell out by midday, and in the summer you could easily wait in line for 45 minutes.
It’s hard to miss the 28-foot tall cream can that houses Little Man Ice Cream in the Highlands—or the line of loyal patrons that typically stretches around the block. Luckily, Little Man will be at Denver Fashion Weekend on the 5th and 6th dishing out their famous ice cream, so if you haven’t had the chance to try it yet, now you will.
The shop opened in the heart of the Highlands in 2008 with a vision to make philanthropy delicious. The name ‘Little Man’ is a nod to the founder’s father, Peter Tamburello, who always made a difference in the world. They run a scoop for scoop program, meaning that for every as scoop of ice cream purchased, they donate a scoop of rice or beans to a developing country. That makes this is one splurge you can definitely feel good about.
The ice cream is handmade fresh daily, featured in the splits, sundaes, ice cream sandwiches and shakes, as well as the fresh-made waffle cones. By the time I arrived, their most popular flavor, salted Oreo, and had already sold out hours before. While you can also find pints of the salted Oreo at The Dirty Cookie if you need your fix, I was content to sample some of the other flavors, like the Mexican chocolate, which featured a hint of cinnamon in the super creamy chocolate base. The vegan chocolate ice cream, made with coconut milk, is almost like a chocolate sorbet, with a deeply chocolatey flavor which is uninhibited by the heaviness of cream and eggs. Gelato flavors like blueberry cinnamon, balsamic strawberry, and honey manage to be both innovative and classic at the same time. While their website lists a full list of flavors, it’s best to call ahead to see what they have available that day.
While the line on a hot summer night can surely stretch out around the block, Little Man is a joy to visit on a sunny spring day, when you might feel as though you have stepped back in time to a classic American food stand from the twenties or thirties. Vintage jazz plays from the speakers, employees wear smiles and retro uniforms, and the towering cream can gives it all a Coney Island feel. While the ice cream is fantastic, people return time and time again for the experience.
For a taste of the Little Man experience, come to Denver Fashion Weekend on the 5th and 6th of April, where you will be able to sample their creamy concoctions.