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Frozen Dreams

Yogurt: A natural refreshment phenomenon

By Virginia B. Wood and Kate Thornberry, Fri., June 25, 2010

When I first wrote about frozen yogurt in June 2008, the West Coast natural tart frozen yogurt phenomenon was just beginning to take hold in Austin. That summer, there were two stores and one trailer selling the tangy treat – Piccomolo in far Northwest Austin, YogoBerry at Riverside and Congress, and Jacob Boone's roving Mambo Berry truck, then likely to be found near Barton Springs and South Lamar. Now the two original shops have closed, but Mambo Berry is going strong on the SoCo food trailer strip (and at occasional events), and neighborhood frozen yogurt shops are now all the rage. Many of the stores are locally owned, independent businesses; a few are outlets of small franchise operations.

Kate Thornberry and I recently embarked on a crosstown frozen yogurt odyssey with delicious results. Of the places we surveyed, OrangeCup and Mambo Berry serve only natural tart frozen yogurt, and they both use Aus­tin's own award-winning White Mountain yogurt as a base, as does Froyoyo. Most of the shops offer variations on tart options and sweet fun flavors on a rotating basis, with eight to 12 machines dispensing self-serve portions in the price range of 39 cents to 45 cents an ounce. Every shop affirmed that their yogurts contain live, active cultures. Some places enhance their menus with yogurt-based smoothies and/or fruit and yogurt parfaits, and they all offer the option to swirl yogurt flavors together. Toppings such as freshly cut fruit, cereals, cookie crumbs, nuts, and chocolate chips are optional and figure into the cost per ounce.

All the shops appeared to be prosperous. No sooner had we finished our tasting trips and written up the story than we discovered a Menchie's Frozen Yogurt outlet that just opened near Central Market and a yogurt trailer called Hero's Frozen Treats that will soon take up residence in the Longhorn Food Court serving West Campus. We'll surely check them out, but it could take some time. Meanwhile, we suggest you plan a natural tart yogurt refreshment odyssey of your own, using this sampling as your guide.

OrangeCup
OrangeCup
Photo by John Anderson

OrangeCup

3400 Esperanza Crossing (the Domain), 973-3819
Monday-Tuesday, 10am-9pm; Wednesday-Thursday, 10am-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 10am-10:30pm; Sunday, noon-8pm
www.myorangecup.com

Some of the same UT graduates who sold both gelato and frozen yogurt at Piccomolo are also responsible for OrangeCup, but their focus here is all about the health and nutritional benefits of yogurt. The sleek shop currently features four flavors of natural tart frozen yogurt: natural (plain); Züm (with fresh-squeezed orange juice); acai berry (with blackberry and pomegranate); and Cul (with passion fruit, peach, and guava). Printed nutritional info about all yogurts and toppings is available in the store. – V.B.W.

Mambo Berry
Mambo Berry
Photo by John Anderson

Mambo Berry

1600 S. Congress
Tuesday-Thursday, 11:30am-7pm; Friday, 11:30am-8pm; Saturday, 11:30am-9pm; Sunday 11:30am-7pm (hours can be very flexible)
www.mamboberry.com

Health food entrepreneur Jacob Boone sells vegan tamales and fruit smoothies out of his busy trailer, and we're sure those items have loyal fans. However, the serious Mambo Berry addicts we know go there for the original tart and green tea frozen yogurts, served in one generous size with no toppings, and they howl with disappointment when the truck isn't in its regular spot due to special events. The yogurt here has an assertive tangy flavor that's both healthy and refreshing. – V.B.W.

Froyoyo

3201 Bee Caves Rd., 852-8528
Monday-Saturday, 11am-10pm; Sunday, noon-9pm
www.froyoyo.com

Dave and Joan Dace opened Froyoyo in December 2009 and quickly built a loyal family clientele in the West Lake area. The shop offers eight different self-serve flavors every day, including its own recipes for original tart and raspberry based on White Moun­tain yogurt. Among the sweet, fun flavors (red velvet, peanut butter, various fruits), Froyoyo's vanilla and chocolate were the creamiest and most flavorful we sampled around town. – V.B.W.

BerryAustin

5523-A Balcones, 323-0606
Daily, noon-11pm
www.berryaustin.com
BerryAustin owner Kathy Steele
BerryAustin owner Kathy Steele
Photo by John Anderson

Artist and graphic designer Kathy Steele witnessed the health benefits of natural tart frozen yogurt firsthand on a trip to California a few years back. She returned to Austin with the spark of an idea, and this friendly, inviting neighborhood shop is the result. She offers 10 flavors of yogurt every day, some tart and some sweet. Steele says her customers are very partial to the red velvet, but we fell hard for the coffee flavor here. Look for a second location to open in the Austonian in the fall. – V.B.W.

Yum Yum Frozen Yogurt

1601 Barton Springs Rd., 782-8492
Tuesday-Thursday, noon-10pm; Friday, noon-11pm; Saturday-Sunday, 11am-11pm
www.yumyumfrozenyogurt.com

This new shop recently opened below Flipnotics makes a very convenient refreshment stop on the way to or from Zilker Park and Barton Springs Pool. It rotates eight tart and sweet flavors every week with an array of toppings to spice things up. – V.B.W.

Tart

241 W. Second, 457-TART
Sunday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday-Satur­day, 11am-11pm
www.tart-yogurt.com

Tart owner Michael Vasquez is proud of the fact that his new shop sells only USDA-certified organic tart frozen yogurt blended only with organic fruit for flavoring. The chic Down­town shop offers six tart and six sweet fun flavors every day, with an array of topping choices. – V.B.W.

The Yogurt Spot

2815-A Guadalupe, 478-7768
Friday-Saturday, noon-12mid; Sunday-Thursday, noon-11pm
www.theyogurtspotusa.com

The Yogurt Spot serves 16 flavors at a time, the biggest selection we found in one place. The shop has a lounge-y, comfortable atmosphere. What sets it apart is its variety of unusual and wonderful flavors: Some of my favorites were honeydew melon, peanut-butter cup, lemon, and tart blueberry. The flavors are also grouped thoughtfully so that if you wish to swirl, the flavors are suitably complementary. The toppings bar, sadly, had some stale granola and some overripe fruit on it and definitely needs more attention. – K.T.

Juicytart Yogurt

504 W. 24th, 468-4473
Daily, 11am-2am
www.juicytartyogurt.com

This UT campus-area shop has lots of seating and a pleasant atmosphere. There are 12 flavors available at a time, some sweet and some tart. Unfortunately, the yogurt is not very creamy, and the flavors are comparatively icy and weak. – K.T.

Swirll

2310 Guadalupe, 482-8668
Monday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-11pm; Sunday, noon-10pm
www.swirlls.com

Swirll also offers 16 flavors at a time, including many popular Asian flavors such as lychee, taro, and green tea. The texture of the frozen yogurt is better than JuicyTart but still somewhat icy and fast-melting. The flavors are bolder, however, with French vanilla and acai-raspberry standing out as particularly good. – K.T.

Frutti Froyo

1007 S. Congress, 351-3355
Daily, 11am-11pm

This newly opened shop serves 14 flavors, almost all nonfat. The topping selection is very good, and the shop is clean and pleasant. The genuinely nice and helpful staff is the standout feature here, though; we really felt welcome and are sure to return. Standout flavor: tart blueberry. – K.T.

Yummy Yo

360 Nueces #40, 473-8499
Sunday-Thursday, 11am-10:30pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-11:30pm

A great place to walk to, but parking can be a challenge. Yummy Yo sells eight flavors at a time. Both the chocolate and vanilla are outstanding, and all of the varieties have a lovely, creamy consistency and bright, powerful flavor. We found this to be one of the better shops. – K.T.


Yogurt Planet
4601 N. Lamar #502, 452-7888
Monday-Saturday, noon-11pm; Sunday, noon-10pm
www.yogurtplanet.com

This is one of the more popular shops in town. It offers 12 yogurt flavors daily, about half tart and half sweet. What sets Yogurt Planet apart are the very high-quality toppings: All are fresh and in prime condition, and the fruit toppings include raspberries, blackberries, and other high-end items that are not offered everywhere. The tart pome­granate and tart raspberry flavors are especially good. – K.T.

Yumilicious

2700 W. Anderson #227, 454-9864
Monday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-11pm; Sunday, noon-10pm
www.yumi-licious.com

This place has plenty of seating and features 14 rotating flavors and a pretty good selection of toppings. No-sugar-added yogurt is available in both chocolate and vanilla for those who adhere to a low-sugar diet, and the staff is friendly. Standout flavors: tart avo­ca­do, tart peach, and dulce de leche. – K.T.

Tomunchi Frozen Yogurt

1701 W. Parmer #105, 491-7138
Sunday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 11:30am-11pm
www.tomunchi.com

Tomunchi Frozen Yogurt boasts a very loyal following, and for good reason: The yogurt is dense, creamy, and flavorful; the toppings are reliably fresh and delicious; and the owner, Mark Wu, who's always running the register, is very friendly and charming. There are nine flavors of yogurt daily and usually at least one is sugar-free. Roughly a third of the flavors are tart, with the majority being sweet. This shop is a neighborhood favorite. – K.T.

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