Summertime is the season to indulge with soul-satisfying sweets. Pastry chefs are looking back to their childhoods for inspiration, turning out treats inspired by Dreamsicles, strawberry shortcake, Choco Tacos, s’mores, and more. Whether you’ve got your kids in tow for some family fun or you and your friends are looking for a sugar rush, here are 15 restaurants for nostalgic summertime desserts to make you feel like a little kid again. Not near any of them? OpenTable has you covered with more than 51,000 restaurants for any craving or occasion.
AVEO Table + Bar, Dana Point, California
You don’t have s’mores like this one when you go camping. Arriving under a hickory smoke-filled cloche, the flame-kissed treat features chocolate cremeaux atop a raspberry moonpie with a side of chile hot chocolate. Better still, there are no mosquitoes or bears anywhere in sight.
Rave restaurant review: “During our recent stay at the Monarch Beach Resort, we dined twice at AVEO (one dinner and one brunch). Both meals were excellent. From the hostesses to the servers, everyone was courteous and professional.”
Make a reservation at AVEO Table + Bar.
I|O Godfrey, Chicago, Illinois
Forget store-bought Choco Tacos. These delicioso desserts feature all the things. Cradled in waffle cone shells, the sweet tacos are packed with pistachio gelato, chocolate-covered bananas, Fruit Loops, strawberry marmalade, sprinkles, and whipped cream.
Rave restaurant review: “It was our first time at your rooftop and it didn’t disappoint! Beautiful surroundings. Beautiful rooftop seating and view! Food was fabulous and pours of wine are not too bad either! Wink wink! Will be back!”
Make a reservation at I|O Godfrey.
Summer House, North Bethesda, Maryland
Strawberry shortcake always reminds us of backyard picnics at grandma’s house. This stellar rendition features local strawberries and a generous dollop of vanilla Chantilly cream on a split-open buttermilk biscuit. We’re sure grandma would approve.
Rave restaurant review: “I don’t usually have favorites, but this is definitely a place I keep returning to. Great dining areas — open and light. Excellent food and competent, friendly servers.”
Make a reservation at Summer House.
The Smith, Chicago, Illinois
Now you can have your s’mores in a jar. Made with layers of chocolate pudding, graham cracker crumble, and toasted marshmallow, it’s topped with a dark chocolate crunch bar and graham crackers. Bonus: no sticky fingers when you’re done.
Rave restaurant review: “So glad The Smith opened one in Chicago! One of the best places to eat. Such a fun and hip vibe :)”
Make a reservation at The Smith.
Jack Rose, New Orleans, Louisiana
You don’t have to be mile high to enjoy Mile High Pie. The triple-decker dessert features levels of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream topped with meringue. A dousing of chocolate sauce adds the finishing touch.
Rave restaurant review: “The staff was so nice and the food was perfect. The Mile High Pie was delicious and so pretty! Also, the atmosphere was everything we wanted.”
Make a reservation at Jack Rose.
Cherry, Washington, D.C.
🍒🥧 for the win! Just like mom used to make it. Arriving in the miniature cast-iron casserole dish it was baked to order in, the classic-style cherry pie comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Rave restaurant review: “It is a beautifully decorated light-filled room. The food exceeded my expectations and was all really tasty and beautifully presented.”
Make a reservation at Cherry.
Onward, Chicago, Illinois
If only the Klondike bars of our childhood were this good. Pastry chef Kevin McCormick sandwiches mint chocolate chip gelato between chocolate cookies before enrobing it in dark chocolate. It’s crunchy, creamy awesomeness.
Rave restaurant review: “I am thrilled that this restaurant is in the neighborhood. The wait staff is terrific and the food delicious.”
Make a reservation at Onward.
FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar, Bloomington, Minnesota
Floats are the perfect cure-all for a hot summer’s day. This blue-ribbon treat features locally churned Sebastian Joe’s vanilla ice cream, root beer cake, and a zigzagging drizzle of chocolate syrup. It’s finished with a foamy dousing of Old Fashioned Killebrew Root Beer.
Rave restaurant review: “The food was absolutely impeccable, and our waiter was so incredibly patient and friendly — and very attentive. LOVE that the ingredients are locally sourced and/or responsibly raised. Highly recommend!”
Make a reservation at FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar.
Trademark, New York, New York
The banana pudding of your younger years just got a cheffy upgrade. Think brown butter Nilla-inspired wafers, lightly sweetened whipped cream, and a torched golden Fluff-style topping. Make sure you dig all the way down with your spoon to get every delicious component in every bite.
Rave restaurant review: “Every time we go, we are so happy we did! Service is impeccable, food is delish, and the ambiance is delightful.”
Make a reservation at Trademark.
Coalition Food and Beverage, Alpharetta, Georgia
“One banana, two banana, three banana four/All bananas make a split so do many more.” This classic banana split includes chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice creams, along with candied walnuts, caramel, hot fudge, whipped cream, and cherries. All that’s missing is someone to share it with.
Rave restaurant review: “We’ve eaten at Coalition about five times now and always leave totally satisfied! Excellent service and mouthwatering food! It’s a great addition to Alpharetta and we will continue to come back!”
Make a reservation at Coalition Food and Beverage.
Espita Mezcaleria, Washington, D.C.
Consider this a deconstructed Choco Taco. Dark chocolate sorbet, chocolate ice cream, and candied peanuts sit on a crunchy cocoa and almond tostada. All the flavors you’ve come to expect but offered up in an unexpected presentation.
Rave restaurant review: “I love dining at Espita! There is always something new on the menu. Look for their carnitas this week and follow up with their chocolate tostada on the patio.”
Make a reservation at Espita.
Angler, San Francisco, California
Sorry, Mr. Softee, but you’ve been outplayed at your own game. This milk soft serve sundae is a cut above what you’ll get from the white truck with the peppy theme song. That’s because it’s finished with a trio of unconventional toppings: embered caramel (we’re not certain what that means, but it sure sounds cool), barbecued salt, and candied cocoa nibs.
Rave restaurant review: “Best new restaurant in SF. Just wow!”
Make a reservation at Angler.
Canoe, Atlanta, Georgia
You’ll feel like you’ve been taken out to the ball game when you bite into this summery sundae. Popcorn-flavored ice cream is piled high with homemade Cracker Jacks and doused in caramel. It’s so good, you won’t care if the home team wins or loses.
Rave restaurant review: “Food and service were outstanding! It was our first visit but certainly not our last.”
Make a reservation at Canoe.
Travelle, Chicago, Illinois
This take on a Dreamsicle is so, well, dreamy. The beaut of a bar includes ganache-like namelaka rich with buttermilk and citrus, grapefruit meringue, and orange sherbet. To add a buzzy boost, there’s an alluring Aperol sauce.
Rave restaurant review: “Food, cocktails, and service were excellent. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a place to bring a client, a significant other, or family.”
Make a reservation at Travelle.
Ted’s Bulletin, Fairfax, Virginia
Two childhood favorites come together in this tasty treat. The s’mores pop-tart arrives pocketed with graham cracker crumbles, marshmallow, and chocolate. No campfire or toaster required.
Rave restaurant review: “I had lunch with a few friends to celebrate a birthday and the service and the food were notable. They even brought out a pop-tart with a candle and chocolate writing on the plate. The waiter was outstanding! Definitely would go back!”
Make a reservation at Ted’s Bulletin.
Let us know if you’ve been to any of these restaurants for nostalgic summertime desserts here in the comments or over on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.
Photo credits:Bonjwing Lee (Angler); Green Olive Media (Coalition); Leah Belhart (Espita); Kailley Lindman (I|O Godfrey); Ashley Duarte (Onward); Jenna/IGC Hospitality (Trademark).