Photos C/O @paninisicecream
What it is
The Panini and Ice Cream shop makes some of the most unlikely of combinations pleasantly intriguing. And I’m not just talking about the brilliant sweet desserts and savory sandwich mixes on their menu, but the space itself consists of a couple wild combinations.
The shop takes up one half of an expansive space shared with a convenience store. The Panini and Ice Cream half has bar seating along a window overlooking Main Street East. Photographs of happy customers from over the years hang from fairy lights slightly obstructing the view of traffic. A walk past the kitchen will lead you to an open space that can facilitate a study session with friends, a date night on couches, or a small kids party under the disco laser lights, exclusively and all at once.
Since opening in 2015 and renovating their space this past summer, Panini and Ice Cream has built a good reputation in Hamilton’s east end. They serve Hewitt’s ice cream, which is made by Ontario dairy farmers, an incredible selection of milkshakes and of course sandwiches, one of which is their coveted Doritos chicken panini.
How to get there from campus
Let’s face it, if you’re only in Hamilton for school, you probably haven’t been to the east end. Panini and Ice Cream is definitely an east end gem worth making the trip to. Luckily, the commute is easy. It’s just a matter of staying on the bus for a while longer on the same route students typically take downtown.
Your easiest route would be to take the 1 Hamilton Street Railway bus from Sterling Street and University Avenue heading east and get off at Main Street East at Tragina Avenue North. Panini and Ice Cream will be a one minute walk westbound on Main Street East.
You can save a few minutes by taking the 10 heading east from Main Street West and Emerson Street. Hop off at Main Street East and Kenilworth Avenue North. Walk eastbound for five minutes along Main Street East. Panini and Ice Cream will be on your left just after Cope Street.
Starting with the basics, one scoop of ice cream goes for $3.10, while two, three and four scoops go for $4.29, $5.30 and $6.19, respectively. There are 32 flavours to choose from, including your classics flavours, strawberry cheesecake, chocolate caramel fudge brownie, butterscotch ripple and watermelon sherbet. They also have a selection of ice cream floats for $3.99.
Sundaes range from $6.49 to $7.99 and include flavours like the unicorn sundae consisting of bubble gum and cotton candy ice cream topped rainbow candy and cotton candy. Milkshakes are $6.19 for the regular size, $7.09 for the large size, and can be made with any ice cream flavour of your choice.
Last but not least, the panini menu ranges in price from $4.42 to $7.99, and you can add extra chicken or bacon to order for $2.00. Some menu items include classic grilled cheese, pizza pepperoni grilled cheese, and the Montreal smoked meat panini.
What to get
The menu choices can be overwhelming on a first visit; we’ve just covered the basics for the sake of simplicity. There’s a lot to consider, from your ice cream cone and topping choices, to the option of getting plated desserts, to skipping the menu altogether and getting creative by making your own dessert.
If you’re looking to stay in for a relatively well-rounded, filling and cost-effective meal, pairing the classic grilled cheese or a chicken panini with a regular milkshake of your choice is the way to go. I chose the pralines and cream milkshake on my first try!
For the ultimate experience, the half and half menu is your way to go. You can choose any ice cream flavour for a shake at the bottom, any flavour for a sundae on top, one topping and one sauce. A regular half and half goes for $7.29 and a large half and half goes for $8.39.
If you can’t choose which flavours to get, they have a couple ideas displayed on the menu, like my personal favourite; the cookie monster which is made up of a cookie dough shake and a chocolate chip cookie sundae, topped with a variety of cookies. They also have the options of getting a salty caramel (pralines and cream shake, salty caramel sundae) or pina colada (coconut shake, orange pineapple sundae).
Why it’s great
Paninis and Ice Cream keeps its doors open all year long, so you can indulge in their cold treats no matter the season. In fact, my first visit was the day after one of our infamous ice storms this winter. The staff are super friendly, the space is pleasant and the options and combinations are endless.
Still can’t choose from all your options? You just can’t go wrong with a classic ice cream on a waffle cone.