Dear Glutton: Your New Favorite Ice Cream Shops
Find the perfect place for a frozen treat
My family is looking for a new regular ice cream spot, somewhere there are lots of flavors to try and I won't have to be scared they're judging us for coming in three times a week. Ideally, we're looking for a place with flavors that appeal to both our sophisticated adult palates and serve something our picky 7- and 5-year-olds won't turn up their noses at.
– Sick of Vanilla
Family trips to the ice cream parlor are some of my favorite childhood memories. This is probably true for many people; it's hard to beat the idyllic combination of not being in school, having zero responsibilities, not having to pay for things, and consuming massive amounts of frozen sugar. Even as an adult, there are few things better than ending a sweaty day of hiking and swimming in the sunshine with something cold and sweet.
But while it's true that ice cream is arguably the best dessert possible for Austin's muggy weather, it's also a sad fact that there are a lot of subpar options waiting to entice you away from the path to frozen dairy nirvana.
Some people will tell you that there's no such thing as bad ice cream. Those people have never suffered through a pint of high-protein diet ice cream or, worse, one of the filler-packed, artificially sweetened messes that tries to pass itself off as the real deal. All of this is just fine if you're a kid, but there are few things more disappointing than bad junk food. If something isn't even remotely healthy, it should be a purely pleasurable experience, leaving you happy and sated; a pure, sensual joy. There are a number of places in town where you can find that, most of them small, few of them kid-friendly.
If you were just looking for frozen treats for grownup palates, your obvious move would be to have your next date night at the gloriously old-school Prohibition Creamery, where they serve up booze-spiked artisanal ice cream in flavors like whiskey chocolate, the amazingly refreshing sangria sorbet, and, if you're willing to overcome your biases, my personal favorite: the smoky, creamy, mezcal vanilla. But while I still think it's a worthwhile spot to keep in mind for after-dinner excursions, it's hardly the right setting for a couple of small children to run off their sugar rushes before you load them back into the car and head for swim practice.
Instead, for your summer afternoon ice cream needs, try Michoacana Natural Ice Cream. Tucked away unassumingly in a mini-mall storefront, they make some of the most unusual and delicious frozen desserts in town. The ice cream flavors range from the basic and kid-friendly (including a surprisingly delightful neon swirled bubblegum) to more interesting choices like their brightly acerbic lime sorbet, or the piñon, which is creamy and rich, with a slight piney, almost bitter, edge reminiscent of a really good olive oil cake. Their house-made paletas are equally wonderful, and come in a huge range of flavors, from the standard fresh fruit (the best of which is the psychedelically marbled strawberry and cream), to more unusual choices like the oddly compelling avocado and cheese. My personal favorite is the arroz paleta, a sort of frozen rice pudding, milky sweet and creamy, spotted with chewy little pieces of cooked rice and thick swirls of powdered cinnamon. It's like the best parts of your childhood brought back, even better. The perfect place to experience the joys of ice cream with a new generation of summer dreamers.
Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter
If you want to submit a recipe, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org