A Little Time and a Keyboard: Lincolnwood’s Dairy Star is a Thoroughly Modern Throwback

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Lincolnwood’s Dairy Star is a Thoroughly Modern Throwback

Lincolnwood’s Dairy Star is a thoroughly modern throwback

Lincolnwood’s Dairy Star is a Thoroughly Modern Throwback

I am happy to bring a new local adventure from Chicago-area freelance writer Shylo Bisnett. Enjoy her latest piece discussing sweet and tempting ice cream concoctions from local favorite Dairy Star!

A family favorite for nearly 40 years, Dairy Star is a small, summer-only ice-cream stand just across the Chicago border. It looks straight out of “American Graffiti” or “Happy Days” and is staffed exclusively by scrubbed-face college students with perpetual smiles.

The menu is chock-a-block with traditional ice-cream shop favorites. Sure, you can just go for a cone in the basic flavor options (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, or twist) but there are endless combinations of dips and toppings that you’d need a calculator or mathematician’s brain to figure out all the possible combinations of flavors. You can spring for a phosphate (flavored syrup with carbonated water), slushies, shakes, even a frozen banana.

Ice cream concoctions abound at Dairy Star in Lincolnwood, Illinois. Image credit Shylo Bisnett.
Ice cream concoctions abound at Dairy Star. 

But if you’re up for a challenge, or got straight A's, or just really, really like ice cream? Dive in to one of the massive sundaes, parfaits and splits. The menu items are clearly house-developed hits, like the Go-Nut parfait. This treat is a cup of vanilla ice cream absolutely lacquered with both peanut-butter and hot-fudge sauce, crushed Reese’s Pieces, chopped peanuts … and somehow a peanut-butter hard dip, too. It almost defies the laws of physics. These confections require two hands to hold and several mouths to eat.

Ice cream treats tempt at Dairy Star in Lincolnwood, IL. Image credit Shylo Bisnett.
Ice cream treats tempt at Dairy Star.

Dairy Star may look old-fashioned, but it has also changed with the times, catering to the
palates of a diverse community and dietary trends. This part of Lincolnwood and north Chicago is home to a broad mix of cultures. Most evenings, you’ll find Orthodox Jews at one table, Assyrians at another, a Latinx family at a third. Because of the large community of kosher-keeping Jews, Dairy Star features products approved by the Chicago Rabbinical Council. Dairy Star also offers up an array of vegan, low-fat fro-yo, and sugar-free options, too.



The shop, historically, has only accepted cash. However, due to COVID19 safety precautions, Dairy Star accepts online ordering via credit cards as well. The upside to the online-ordering tool is that you’re given an approximate wait time, so you can chill in your car or the shade until it’s time to collect your treats. You can still place your order at the classic window, where stickers on the ground direct the crowd to socially distance. Online order pick-up is in the back of the shop. All employees don masks, wear gloves, and make hand sanitizer available to guests.

Insider Tip:

Make it a Lincolnwood day by first hitting up Novelty Golf & Games and the Bunny Hutch Snack Bar just a few blocks west, or Lou Malnati’s, open since 1971. Dairy Star gets quite crowded in the evenings. If you’re committed socially distancing, but can’t resist an ice cream nightcap, definitely select the online-ordering option so you don’t have to wait in a long line.

Dairy Star is located at 3472 W. Devon Ave in Lincolnwood, IL

Shylo Bisnett is a Chicago-based freelance writer. She lives with her two energetic boys on Chicago's northwest side, You can find her at useyourhands.com or at Twitter, @shylobisnett.

Ice Cream Treats Tempt at Dairy Star Lincolnwood, IL

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