Hidden Gems Brings Soft Serve To Larimer Square

While Larimer Square isn’t a yellow brick road, ice cream fans can still escape to a whimsical place like Oz. Hidden Gems is the newest addition to the neighborhood. It offers a sweet addition to a hot afternoon or a nightcap under the twinkling overhead lights. The splashes of red, turquoise and black paint decorate the entranceway leading to the main attraction  — the soft-serve ice cream that surprised everyone on their soft opening on Saturday, April 10.

Freehand paint splatters cover the walls to complete its unique look. Photo by Hidden Gems.

Larimer Square creates its own microcosm. Currently, without thru-traffic, restaurant seating and store sales extend into the street. With James Beard recipient Jennifer Jasinski at Rioja and Troy Guard from TAG within walking distance — this part of town thrives off creativity. Hidden Gem has the ability to keep this mentality going, as it strays away from scoops of cookie dough or a chocolate vanilla swirl. This parlor doesn’t emulate the typical mom-and-pop or ’50s diner aesthetic at all.  “It’s probably the only ice cream shop that exclusively blares trap music,” said owner Joshua Schmitz followed by a bit of a laugh.

Rather than seeing the ice cream tubs on display, a greeting from a ticket listing all the mix-ins hanging on the back wall and a pencil allow the adventure to begin. This unconventional style pairs well with their version of soft serve where scoops of Sweet Action ice cream and mix-ins go into their soft serve machine and a perfectly intertwined version of the two come out.

Schmitz knew the magnitude of Denver’s ice cream scene but says “it could use an extra bit of excitement and nostalgia.” Often soft-serve stays in the ice cream machine until ready for service, but using the Little Jem® machine, transforms scooped vanilla ice cream into soft serve on the spot.

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Even with a darker tone, the aimless splashes of paint going from floor to ceiling are as carefree as a kid trying to repaint their own house in the best way. Not only that but their flavors are a childhood reminder, too.

Their mix-ins include sugary cereals — it creates a frozen version of the beloved taste of cereal that was left to soak in milk at the bottom of the bowl. Frosted Flakes, Cocoa Puffs, Honey Bunches of Oats, Reece’s Puffs and the rainbow of Lucky Charms Marshmallows can be found in dispensers on the back wall. Oreo cookies are commonly crushed into ice cream — but instead of large chunks — Hidden Gems’ swirl has a grey speckled color representing all the bits that made it inside. New York, Los Angeles and Miami are no strangers to this way of buzzing up ice cream with childhood snacks, except for possibly Hidden Gems’ Cheez-It option.

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A single cup, including one mix in and one drizzle, costs $7, while their vegan alternative is closer to $9. It’s closed on Monday and Tuesday but starting Wednesday the machine swirls from the early afternoon until 11 p.m and 12 a.m. on the weekend. It is just enough time to pick a combination. With all their unique options, indecision can run high.

Hidden Gems is located at 1411 Larimer Street, Denver. It is open from 3 to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays; 3 to 12 a.m. on Fridays; 12 p.m. –  12 a.m. on Saturdays and
12 p.m. – 10 p.m. on Sundays.