2011 has brought Chicago its fair share of unpredictable weather. From the February blizzard to June’s record breaking heat, one wonders, is there anything you can count on to always hit the spot…..? Answer: Yes, Chicago, yes there is. Snow, meet heat… Today we bring you a Real Chicago experience submitted by Maura, a Chicago native, who’s seen her fair share of unpredictability related to this great city, but can always count on her favorite summer hotspot to open its windows every May, just in time for the summer heat. Nothing says real authentic Italian ice quite like Mario’s Italian Ice on Taylor Street. The ingredients are simple but deliver some of the best taking Italian ices- fresh fruit, ice, sugar, lemon juice, lemon peel and bits of real fruit. Known for its old-school charm, Mario’s opened its doors (well, technically its widows) in 1954. It is wedged between two buildings and is easily missed if you aren’t familiar with the stand. However, once you have gone to Mario’s once you will be a lifelong customer. From the first visit, you can feel the history that surrounds this stand. When Mario’s first opened, there were many other stands just like it throughout the neighborhood. This gem has had a successful run and is one of the only remaining stands left. The exterior is painted green, white and red and although not fancy, its simplicity is what’s made the place a charmer for over fifty years. Mario’s offers authentic, inexpensive and refreshing treats. They have vast array of flavor offerings, including the traditional lemon, cantaloupe, cherry and my personal favorite, watermelon. If Italian ice isn’t your favorite, Mario’s also offers snow cones, fresh lemonade, lupini beans, seeds and nuts. People from all over the Chicago area come out daily to experience Mario’s Italian ice. The lines tend to be long at certain times of the day but don’t let that discourage you from experiencing one of Chicago’s most authentic Italian ice stands. Mario’s traditional and homemade flavors make this a Chicago favorite. Whether you choose to order one of their famous Italian ices or a simple snow cone, you won’t be sorry. The eye-catching stand, unique and delicious flavors and warm staff remind you of all that represents “Real Chicago”. While serving hundreds of customers daily, Mario’s still makes everyone feel like they are family. Visit Mario’s at: 1068 W. Taylor St., Chicago, IL 60607. Hours are 11 a.m.-midnight from early May to September 15th.