Written by | Derek Carlson

The Best Ice Cream in Bend

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Bend has a reputation for being a burger and brewery type of food town. Those that say that aren’t necessarily wrong but they’ll also be overlooking a lot of hidden food gems.

Bend has grown up a lot as a food city over the last decade with incredible options for Italian, fine dining, pastries, and locally roasted coffee.

One of those gems in Central Oregon is our local ice cream and gelato makers. I’m not talking about a place that brings in ice cream and makes fancy shakes or sundaes with it but true local companies who make the ice cream from start to finish right here in Bend.

The Best Ice Cream in Bend

Let’s just answer the most important question first; where is the best ice cream in Bend?

The answer is Bonta Gelato.

We’re not going to split hairs here between gelato and ice cream. Bonta is awesome so they get the top billing no matter what terminology you want to use.

Bonta is a truly local company that has been making delicious gelato here in Central Oregon for almost two decades now. That is a lot of time to work on recipes and craft the perfect combinations of flavors featuring Oregon-grown ingredients.

Bonta has a stable selection of go-to flavors that are available year-round along with a huge selection of rotating flavors that come and go as the seasons pass.

Example menu of gelato available from Bonta Gelato in Bend, Oregon
Example menu of flavors available at Bonta in May 2022

They don’t seem to be huge on promotion or social media so often the only way to know which flavors they are scooping at the moment is to pop into their shop and check it out in person.

My absolute favorite seasonal flavor is the Resolution Buster which comes out right after New Year’s each and every year. This gelato is packed with marshmallows, brownies, and caramel on top of a salted vanilla gelato.

Their seasonal berry offerings like marionberry crumble or raspberry lime swirl also shine.

They also always feature several vegan options on their menu.

Where to Find Bonta Gelato?

You can find Bonta at almost every grocery store in town, in cold cases or on the menu at numerous restaurants, or at their scoop shop in downtown Bend. They also have a small shop on the east side of Bend that is perfect for swinging by to grab a quick scoop or a couple of pints to go.

We go to their downtown shop at least twice a month to grab a couple of scoops for the kids. The lines can get longer on warm summer evenings but they always seem to move quickly.

Other Options for Great Ice Cream in Bend

While Bonta takes the cake that doesn’t mean we don’t have a few other great options to choose from when it comes to ice cream in Bend.

Grey Duck Ice Cream

Grey Duck is a relative newcomer to the Bend ice cream scene as they just started dishing out cups in 2023. From what we have tried so far though they will be a welcome addition to the town.

Each week they offer up 3 flavors, load them into their bike-powered ice cream cart, and pedal their way to farmers’ markets, festivals, or just along the river to serve up ice cream to hungry visitors and locals alike.

We recently managed to run into them at the Bend Night Market and tried all three of their flavors; earl grey oreo, birthday cake, and cookies ‘n cream cheese. We are happy to report that all three were delicious and quickly devoured by ourselves and two suddenly very hungry kids.

Until they establish a permanent residence the best way to keep track of where to find their ice cream is through Instagram.

And now that we’ve given away our secrets for our favorite two locally made ice cream options here are the best of the rest for cold treats in Bend.

The Best Place to get a Milkshake in Bend

I have to start off by admitting something; our kids are milkshake fiends. I’m pretty sure they love milkshakes more than they love any other single food in the world.

Because of this, we have tried A LOT of milkshakes in Bend. So at this point, we feel like we have a pretty good handle on who makes a good milkshake around these parts.

Here are our favorites in somewhat of a particular order:

Bend Burger Company

Bend Burger Company doesn’t only serve up delicious burgers. They also make one of the best shakes in town.

The shakes are thick and super flavorful and always come with a generous topping of whipped cream for the kids.

We love the marionberry and cookies and cream shakes. They both use real ingredients which shine through in the finished product.

You can find their shakes in their restaurants in Bend and Redmond.

Sno-Cap Drive-In

I’m only putting Sno-Cap second on this list because technically they aren’t located in Bend. The Sno-cap on this list is the one you’ll find right when you drive into Sisters, Oregon from the west end of town. You know it, the spot with the huge line on any warm summer day.

On days we’re passing through after a hike or long mushroom hunt and the line looks manageable we’ll stop in and grab a couple of shakes for the drive home.

They have both regular and premium shakes and I would always recommend springing for the premium flavors. We love the Oregon berry flavors like marionberry, raspberry, or strawberry.

Their food is also excellent so if you’re out there you might as well make a meal of it!

The Best Ice Cream Sundae

Ice cream sundaes don’t set off the kids whining as much as shakes do when mentioned so they aren’t in our rotation quite as much. Yet, we still manage to find the time to sneak in one or two on occasion.

When that bell calls we always head over to Ellie’s Ice Cream in The Grove in NW Crossing.

Ellie’s has been around for around a year now and while we haven’t found their ice cream to be anything all that special (although our kids would beg to differ regarding their mango sorbet) we do love their creative takes on sundaes.

Their s’more sundae specifically is a delicious choice with graham cracker crumble and a specialty-made toasted marshmallow on top.

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