- Casey Howell
- The sweetest “Spongbob” we’ve ever seen
Most of us already have our raspa stand of choice. Whether you’re going to wait in line at Las Nieves on Hildebrand—regardless of how many people may be before you—or you’re cooling off with one of the creations from long-time favorite Big Daddy’s Eats & Treats, it seems there’s always room for more sorbet, more dill pickle juice, more chamoy.
This spring, three businesses took their love of icy treats to extremes. The Current visited with all three to chat about how they’re keeping San Antonio uniquely cool.
447 W Hildebrand, Ste 105
It might seem counterintuitive to open a raspa stand in the dead of winter, but that’s exactly what Jose Rodriguez and Clarissa Soliz, owners of Frozen Friday’s, did in February 2014. The husband-and-wife team, who had previously owned a snow cone trailer, decided to try their luck by including offerings of ice cream, snow cones and picadillies in the fall. Now situated in the same shopping center that houses Big Bob’s Burgers and a Papa Murphy’s off Hildebrand, Frozen Friday’s is trying to bring back an ice cream parlor vibe to their brick-and-mortar spot.
The 1,400-square-foot shop is inviting. Bright, royal blue walls are filled with images of the offerings (which you’ll need to explain the creative item names), several tables and board games.
“We’re family oriented and customer-service based. We care about families … that’s why we added board games. It’s uncomfortable for a 3-year-old to stand in line for hours. This way you go up, order, distract them by playing a game and you’re set,” Rodriguez said. And yes, there will be a wait.
Since opening its doors, Frozen Friday’s has gathered a fierce following. It could be the air-conditioned digs, the comfortable setting, the electronic rewards program that uses Square technology to keep score … or it could be the ice.
Made in-house using purified water and a few secret ingredients that Rodriguez refuses to disclose, the ice Frozen Friday’s makes is unusually fluffy and snow-like. These days, while producing 50 to 70 ice blocks a day, the shop will go through at least 300 shaved ice cones in one evening. When they’re out, they’re out—even with three freezers dedicated solely to the frozen flakes.
“We understand the frustration, when we tell people we’re out, but we don’t buy ice,” Rodriguez said, “we’re getting better, but Frozen Friday’s means fresh ice.”
The ice might be the draw for some, and the popular picadillies with chopped dill pickles in the middle have their own cult, but Frozen Fridays hangs its hat on being the creators of the Spongebob. A hollowed-out fresh pineapple is the vessel for pineapple sorbet, fresh fruit, ribbons of chamoy and a tamarindo candy stick. If that’s too sour, they also feature a more saccharine version with sweetened condensed milk in place of chamoy, topped with whipped cream and a cherry, naturally.
Sure, you’ll also find banana splits made using Blue Bell, real fruit and nuts, but one customer’s suggestion has landed on the menu board. The Ultimate Explosion, for lover’s of all things tart and sweet, combines scoops of the shop’s pineapple, strawberry, mango and limeade sorbets with green and red chamoy, Lucas chili powder and sour cherry candies on top in lieu of a Maraschino. While it sounds like a mess, the presentation is flawless.
“It has to look presentable every time–it’s kind of an art,” Rodriguez said of making his treats.
CHAMOY CITY LIMITS
Stop by Broadway’s Lions Field Park on weeknights and weekends and you’ll find Chamoy City Limits, the chalkboard black alter ego of the Institute of Chili. Chili queen Ana Fernandez decided to turn her beloved truck into a snow cone purveyor this summer, and her days have never been busier.
“I’m not used to having to prep that much the day before,” Fernandez said.
She first launched Chamoy City Limits in late March. Her hook? House-made syrups, singular flavors and gargantuan portions.
The chamoy-making process starts with a signature chile syrup that’s made using a variety of peppers including ancho, guajillo, jalapeño and serrano. They add a base of pickled apricots, plums and peaches, puree, strain and voila–homemade chamoy. The truck will go through two to four gallons of the stuff on busy evenings.
Fernandez and her crew are also dabbling in gourmet syrups including a “Fabuloso” blend with a hibiscus base that pays homage to the popular cleaning product, and tamarindo. Her pride and joy is the pink leche, which Fernandez remembers from growing up in Corpus Christi. The syrup’s recipe is a closely guarded secret, but she shares that it has a strawberry and cinnamon base.
Once again, presentation is key. Fernandez uses a high-capacity shaved ice machine to turn 300 pounds of ice into fluffy snow cones served in biodegradable, clear cone cups. There are already a few classics, including the picadillies with quartered pickle wedges, hints of Cherry Kool-Aid powder and the requisite chamoy, but the most ordered snow cone might be the Mangonada Supreme, which starts with mango sorbet, a layer of chamoy, and combines a “chango” (shaved ice with dill brine), several more layers of red and green chamoy, and chile salt. It’s not for the faint of heart.
Frank Collazo, co-owner of Chocollazo Food Truck, has branched out to create SnoDaddy, where he’s dishing out shaved ice and cold treats.
“It might sound funny, but I always wanted to open my own snow cone stand,” Collazo said. A relative newcomer, SnowDaddy’s held its grand opening in early July, but has already found fans at The Point Park & Eats off Boerne Stage Road and Random in Boerne.
While he’s making his own seasonal syrups, Collazo isn’t pigeonholing himself to one treat alone. The lineup includes mangonadas and whipped cream-crowned slushies. A visit to SnoDaddy could also mean picking up fresh fruit sodas on tap, like the refreshing strawberry basil, or indulging in the diet-damning monster ice cream sandwiches with homemade ice cream and fresh-baked cookies in combos ranging from classic to peanut butter and jelly (be sure to pick up a few extra napkins).
When it comes to cooling off this summer, escape the comfort of your air-conditioned home or car and reach for the velvety soft shaved ice at Frozen Friday’s, giant Franken-mangonadas with all sorts of homemade chamoys at Chamoy City Limits and big-as-your-face ice cream sandwiches from SnoDaddy. Braving the heat is worth it for these chill treats.