Sunset ice cream at Bobtail

Bobtail's signature Sunset ice cream (Erik Unger/For RedEye / July 9, 2012)

With high temperatures in store for another few months, it's time to get serious about which frozen dessert you're going to pledge allegiance to this summer. Are you an old-school ice cream fan? Or do you prefer a smoother, creamier gelato? What about a tricked-out frozen custard blended with a handful of toppings? If you're still on the fence, a ride from west to east along Belmont Avenue (hop on and off the #77 bus) provides all the taste-testing you need to come to an informed decision.

FIRST: Black Dog Gelato (1955 W. Belmont Ave. 773-348-7935)

Expert gelato maker Jessie Oloroso's Ukrainian Village outpost of Black Dog was so popular, she practically had to open a second location in Roscoe Village just to keep up with demand. She's still serving favorite flavors such as whiskey and goat cheese-cashew-caramel, along with other creative combinations that change daily ($3.50 for a small; $4.75 for a large). A slow churn makes each spoonful of her gelato a creamy, tongue-coating cool-down.

NEXT: Scooter's Frozen Custard (1658 W. Belmont Ave. 773-244-6415)

This mom-and-pop corner shop has become a Lakeview staple, thanks mainly to its "concretes," a blend of frozen custard, toppings and syrups that really appeal to the inner child ($3.99 for a small; $5.19 for a regular). If July's concrete of the month, cherry pie, has your stomach growling already, here's a pro tip: Order from the take-out window to avoid the masses of sugar-fueled kiddos inside.

LAST: Bobtail Ice Cream (2951 N. Broadway 773-880-7372)

Though it's only been open since 2004, Bobtail feels like it's been a part of East Lakeview for decades, what with its old-fashioned soda fountain feel and loyal neighborhood customers. Build your own sundae or choose from one of the shop's creations such as Big Oreo or S'more ($6.25 for a double-scoop sundae). If it's just the ice cream you care about, order an unadulterated scoop or two of one of Bobtail's signatures, such as Sunset (merlot ice cream with dark-chocolate chips), or Lakeview Barhopper (Dutch cocoa ice cream blended with whiskey). Both are $4.29 for a double scoop or $4.99 for a triple scoop.

kbernot@tribune.com | @kbernot