Cool spots for frozen yogurt

Remember that TCBY craze a decade ago? A similar thing has been happening on the coasts, with names like Red Mango and Pinkberry. But Chicago now has a half-dozen new options for frozen yogurt and this time around, the frozen treat actually tastes like the real thing.

It took a trip to Florence, Italy to inspire Kimberly Smith. Smitten with a frozen yogurt she'd never experienced before, the Northeastern Illinois senior last month opened her own place - YoBerri - which is finding a newfound popularity in Lincoln Park.

"Our yogurt has a good balance of tartness and sweetness to it. It's not too sugary, not too bland," said Kimberly Smith, YoBerri.

She's not kidding with the berries. Fresh mango, raspberry and kiwi are just a few of the highlights. Unlike the soft serve most people are accustomed to, she says YoBerri is different.

"It's not like your traditional soft serve yogurt. It does have a little tartness to it and it's more of a yogurty taste. And it's not really that vanilla that everybody would think it would be, because it is white," said Smith.

In Ukrainian Village - along a trendy stretch of West Division Street - Starfruit is the brainchild of the owners of Lifeway Foods, a Morton Grove-based kefir producer.

"We make kefir, which is uh, two-thousand year old cousin of yogurt, contains ten live and active probiotic cultures and most yogurts contain about two or three, so it's really the champagne of cultured dairy," said Edward Smolyansky, Starfruit.

There are usually two or three flavors on hand; the frozen kefir has a less-creamy consistency than its colleagues. Toppings range from a wealth of freshly-cut fruit to assorted dry cereals and even chocolate. Layered parfaits are another option.

If you like Greek-style yogurt, you'll go mad for Berry Chill's product. The rapidly-expanding downtown operation is a response to the fashionable yogurt houses on the coasts.

"For the past few years, stuff has been opening up in L.A. and New York, um, to me they weren't doing it exactly the right way, with real yogurt, etc., so I figured, why not try to come up with my own recipe, and my own concept, and we arrive at Berry Chill," said Michael Farah, Berry Chill.

It's a super-creamy texture, with a nice tang to it. Mix-ins range from assorted candies, cookies and sweets to a seasonally changing assortment of fruit.

"It's important to me to serve the freshest fruit possible, so we always have fresh cut fruit daily, and we always have seasonal fruit, so as fruits come into season such as pomegranate, lychee later in the fall, we'll have those as well," said Farah.

2814 N. Halsted St.

1745 W. Division St.

Berry Chill
635 N. State St.

also mentioned:

Red Mango
809 Davis St., Evanston

111 W. Jackson, Naperville

Yogen Fruz
Woodfield Mall

Wow Bao
175 W. Jackson

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