Editor’s Note: This is part of our Staff Favorites series. Each week we’ll offer our opinions on the best Colorado has to offer for dining, shopping, entertainment, the outdoors and more. (We’ll also reveal some hidden gems to you.)
The first time I noticed Nuggs Ice Cream Shop, I laughed at the apparent reference to weed (i.e. cannabis flower nuggets) and noticed that its brick building red and white was just east of a marijuana dispensary.
Years later? It’s the only name for ice cream in my family, despite the proliferation of high-quality, nostalgic and whimsical ice cream joints in the metro area. My 9-year-old craves the flavor of Michigan-born Blue Moon by Nuggs – a kid-friendly photo of Smurf (but the ingredients are secret) – and my 4-year-old craves ice cream in general. What better place to get it while people-watching in this colorful (but not too gritty) spot at 5135 E. Colfax Ave.?
Nuggs opened in 2014, the same year cannabis became recreational in Colorado, but owners Chris and Nick O’Sullivan have been serving up delicious barbecues since 1998 through their Brothers BBQ restaurants. Part of the Nuggs tradition is that the brothers traveled to Florida to take ice cream-making classes before returning to sell their own handmade versions in Denver.
In addition to the 28 flavors in the cold cases, you can order the usual suspects: ice cream cakes, frozen Americanos, giant chocolate chip cookies, sundaes and ice cream sandwiches. The stars are of course the ice cream flavors, which have a good sense of humor; think Olde English Vanilla (yes, like malt liquor); Tiki torch roasted coconut; Pablo Danger Monkey Cafe; and Heartbreak Cream.
Like a brewery, they still produce even more refined, seemingly niche flavors that everyone and their dog should try. Palisade Peach, get in my stomach!
In addition to vigils – I highly recommend crushing a basic chocolate scoop against Brotherfinger (peanut butter with chunks of candy bars) – they have dairy, gluten, soy, egg and nut free selections. Parking can be tricky on weekends when people flood nearby pubs for game days, but if you’re feeling like a hermit, Nuggs offers DoorDash delivery as well.
And since it’s Colorado, it’s open year round for temperate and cold weather cravings, which I’m sure my family isn’t the only one to have. The only downside of Nuggs is that it is not located right next to our house. We have learned to forgive them for it.
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