Though El Niño is keeping things relatively cool lately, we all know we're in for hot summer months. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to cool down and take in a chilly snack in the area. Here's a quick rundown of your sweet and icy options:[Slideshow: 14 Frosty Places to Keep Your Cool This Summer]
Scoop It Up
If you miss Blue Bell, there are plenty of places to visit to fill the void. You can start at Justin's on the River Walk (245 E. Commerce St., 210-222-2707) where flavors of sorbets, gelatos and ice creams are all made in-house since 1981 (with a brief four-year break). Rio De Gelato returned to the River Walk early this year (102 Navarro St., 210-223-0800) with flavors made by Riccardo Pisano. Flavors change seasonally, but you'll find true-to-Italy iterations like the Spiaggia, or beach for mid-day snacking, with berry, pistachio and cream.
Take a trip up I-10 and visit Brindles Awesome Ice Creams at The Strand (11255 Huebner Rd., 210-641-5222). As this year's Critic's Pick in our Best of San Antonio issue, the ice cream and gelato shop nails sweet and wacky flavors, but we're suckers for the Azteca. Stone Oak habitants can satiate their cool cravings at Napa Flats Wood-Fired Kitchen (1301 N. Loop 1604 W., 210-504-2555) where their pastry chef whips up peanut butter, bacon and banana odes to Elvis and a sweet salted caramel.
Then again, you can always rely on aerial treats via Amy's Ice Cream (255 E. Basse Road, 210-832-8886) and savory renditions at Lick Ice Creams (312 Pearl Pkwy., Suite 2101, 210-314-8166) out of Austin. Keep your eye out for future player The House (732 S. Alamo St.), where owners are promising boozy, creamy creations.
Keep It Puro
Picking a raspa joint these days could result in a social media turf war. We're not about the online drama, but we can get down with San Anto's favorite pickle-filled concoctions. Whether you're getting chamoy-filled mangonadas at Big Daddy's Eats & Treats brick-and-mortar (228 E. Cevallos St., 210-455-3044) or following around the newly pimped-out truck, which will hit up city parks this summer, the King of the Raspas has got you covered.
Need a feminine touch? Follow Chamoy City Limits, where owner Ana Fernandez (artist and Chili Queen) and her staff make syrups from scratch for their shaved ice and create sour candy sushi boats to drool over. Visit Frozen Fridays (447 W. Hildebrand Ave., Suite 105, 210-320-8300), where you can entertain the kids with board games while you wait for your carved-out pineapple Spongebob or pile on the diced pickles in your picadilly explosion. If you've got an hour to spare, visit either location of Las Nieves (4310 Blanco Rd., 1118 W. Hildebrand), now an OG destination for powdery shaved ice or nieves in natural flavors.
When it comes to Mexi-pops, there are two places that hold our hearts and stomachs. El Paraiso (1934 Fredericksburg, 210-737-8101), which opened in 1984 in the Deco District, still holds the local crown for most paletas and flavors available at one time. We're suckers for horchata and coconut, but we're digging their spicy chile-laced versions of mango con chile, tamarindo and plain ol' Lucas. If you like your popsicles a little more niche, SA Pops (3420 N. St. Mary's St., 210-736-2526) caters to the organic-loving set with chef-made fruit purees resulting in balanced pops (which you can alter by having them dipped in chocolate).