As recently noted, it's summer and it's hot. As it turns out, studies on metabolism say that consuming cold food doesn't actually end up cooling you off. But that's not going to stop us from trying. We've found some of the best and most interesting frozen treats in Dallas-Fort Worth, from gourmet pops to the best and newest shaved ice.
California-based chain with shops throughout Hawaii now has a Carrollton branch, and its shaved ice is Taiwanese, aka ribbon-style. The base is a combination of fruit juices and milk, which they dub "frozen cotton candy," due to the texture — like paper-thin sheets, piled on top of each other so they are both thin and dense. The result is bewitching. Flavors are exotic and include green tea, lychee, taro, peanut butter, and honeydew. They also have non-dairy flavors in strawberry and mango, and an array of toppings you'd find at a frozen-yogurt place.
Rita's Italian Ice
Philadelphia-based chain has a few branches in the outlying Dallas area, including Plano and Southlake. It's Italian ice, more refined than shaved ice, with a glossy, smooth texture and more sophisticated flavors. The purest item on the menu is water ice, which has no dairy. There is also cream ice, which mixes in milk, for flavors such as birthday cake and mint chocolate chip. In addition, Rita's offers frozen custard, gelato, sundaes, blended desserts with candies and other mix-ins, and shakes.
Gourmet popsicle shop in the former Coco Andres chocolate space in Oak Cliff specializes in authentic Mexican paletas. The shop was opened by Diana Díaz, a former advertising executive who left her job at the Richards Group to launch Encanto with her sisters. Flavors range from traditional options like vanilla and tamarind to spicy flavors that are typical of Mexico, where the sisters grew up. They also do seasonal flavors, depending on what fruit is in season, as well as a flavor of the month.
Dallas' oldest and best known snow-cone stand has been operating in a residential area in Oak Cliff for 54 years. Family-run business has limited hours: They're open weekends during the spring and summer, from the end of April through Labor Day, reinforcing the seasonal nature of shaved ice. You park in the neighborhood and there's almost always a line; that's part of the fun. Their ice is fluffy as snow, and they make their own syrups. Flavors are listed on a dated menu board. Pink Lady, tasting like vanilla, is the pick, either solo or paired with another flavor.
Inwood Village is the perfect place for Berrynaked, a gourmet popsicle and puree store from a discriminating mom who wanted to give her kids the best. The store sells organic popsicles, fruit and vegetable purees, and "squeezies" in flavors such as mango coconut and macha agave mint. They have basic fruit pops, plus a more indulgent and dessert-like line that incorporates coconut cream. Both are good for eating or for serving as a flavorful coolant in your favorite drink.
Frisco Snow Cone Lady
The Snow Cone Lady has been a staple near Frisco Square since Mary Mathis founded the stand in 1983. Her snow cones are well made, and she serves as an indie island in a town that can feel corporate. She usually opens in mid-April, relying on Facebook to convey her day-to-day operations, such as her recent announcement that, for the first time in 34 years, she's taking credit cards. "Only started with one window," she said. "Going so well, that tomorrow I plan on getting equipment for the second window. My goodness, a 68-year-old can learn new tricks!!!"
The Mid-Cities do not lack for snow-cone options, but Snowflake Factory stands out as one of best pliers of the trade. This stand in the middle of Arlington allows drive-thru as well as walk-up, and its hours, from March through October, run longer than the usual seasonal vendors. Flavors include eccentricities such as pickle juice, but its specialty is the creamsicle, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream at the center.
Cute Richardson shop is a dessert one-stop, with waffle sandwiches, crêpes with fillings such as cinnamon apple, and ice cream sundaes. But the dish you seek is the shaved snow fruit bowl, featuring shaved snow with fruits such as kiwi and blueberries, ice cream, and an enriching drizzle of condensed milk. The snow itself can be ordered in flavors such as mango, and is shaved into ribbons that add a different and enticing texture.
Steel City Pops
This early entry in the popsicle field debuted on Greenville Avenue in 2014, and now has branches in Fort Worth, Garland, Casa Linda Plaza, and even Houston. The pops come in gourmet flavors like hibiscus, pineapple jalapeño, avocado, and chocolate chili. The shop is also big on seasonal flavors; this summer, it's done batches with passion fruit, watermelon, and a strawberry shortcake that had a cookie inside.
Ruby's founder Jessica Fultner became acquainted with a better class of sno-balls while on a trip to New Orleans. Duly inspired, she bought an ice shaver and spent a year developing house-made syrups, which she refined via tastings and fundraisers. Sometime in July, if the city of Dallas permits it, she'll be setting up a stand in the back of La Victoria, a Mexican restaurant in East Dallas, where she'll offer rotating flavors such as basil grapefruit, Earl Grey, and Vietnamese coffee.