Big Dipper Ice Cream in Missoula, Montana is an extremely popular ice cream spot. It helps that it’s in a college town, has a great location on the edge of downtown and it’s delicious.
I spent a summer working for Missoula Children’s Theatre when I graduated from college, so from 2005-2006 I had gotten lots of opportunities to sample their delicious ice cream (and sometimes, to eat it for dinner). I was delighted to return in August of 2019 and give my husband a brief walking tour of my old haunts in Missoula.
Though they’re currently offering contact-free pickup, I visited late on a Tuesday night last year and found a gargantuan line around 9 p.m., which tells you how popular this place really is. Please note that there isn’t a restroom, though at least pre-COVID they had tons of outdoor seating.
You can combine two flavors in a single (yay!) for $3.50, or you can go for a double (a very generous portion) which is super reasonable at $5. They serve the ice cream with a wooden spoon, which is a great environmental move I imagine but which does affect the taste a bit, if that bothers you.
Here’s what I tried:
Elephant Chai – This is special! It’s a fun flavor, but my sample was very icy.
Chuckleberry – This is chocolate ice cream with huckleberry (the latter a regional delicacy if you haven’t had it!). I found this to be a pretty fun and smooth combination, and it was quite creamy.
Chocolate – This is super smooth, a classic lighter chocolate flavor. I found it kind of like a fudgsicle! This might make my top ten for lighter chocolate ice creams, and it isn’t dissimilar to a soft serve texture if that appeals to you (as it does me).
Cardamom – My first bite of this was ice, honestly. Otherwise, the cardamom spice is quite fun, and this was a super creamy texture. It’s a sweet enough base and the creamy aspect pairs well with the spice. I thought it was excellent, minus that first ice bite.
Big Dipper offers mainly traditional flavors, though it gives them a creative spin (like the chocolate plus huckleberry combination). With the giant line, I didn’t feel comfortable asking for additional samples. It seems like this location at least has some struggles with ice in their ice cream. I imagine this is more of a storage issue than a product issue – the ice cream is also sold in some stores, so they distribute it on a wide scale and I’m guessing they’ve got a very consistent product.
That being said, be prepared to get a bit of ice, but if you’re willing to forgive it, you’re likely to experience some truly delicious and very good to excellent ice cream. Enjoy, and say hi to Missoula for me!
Photo courtesy of Big Dipper Ice Cream.
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