The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Ice Creams
For the next 20 weeks, we'll be rounding up the runners-up to our 2011 Best of Houston® winners. In many categories, picking each year's winner is no easy task. We'll be spotlighting 20 of those categories, in which the winner had hefty competition from other Houston bars and restaurants.
Photo by Troy Fields Two scoops from our No. 4 pick.
But Katharine, you may be saying. It's December. I don't want ice cream right now.
To which I say: Tough. Here are some ice cream places for you anyway. Because I just ate four Snickers ice cream bars last night and a pint of Graeter's black raspberry last week and I am here to tell you that it is never too cold for ice cream. Especially in Houston. Especially this year. It's December! is never an excuse.
And you know what? I bet you anything you'll want some ice cream too when this is all said and done. If it makes you feel better, winter your scoops up by pouring hot fudge on top. You're welcome.
[Note: For purposes of this list, I included only ice cream and frozen custard. There is now enough great gelato in Houston to merit a list of its own one day...]
10. Petite Sweets
Photo by Mandy Oaklander
At this River Oaks-area confectionery, you can get cake balls, mini cupcakes and macarons, but it's the custard we like best. Get it in dipped cone form -- an old classic -- or mixed up with owner Susan Molzan's mother's hot fudge recipe (as seen above), which combines the chocolate with vanilla and Kahlua.
Anita Jaisinghani's two modern Indian restaurants have always made their own ice creams in house to garnish Jaisinghani's clever desserts (recall that she was once the pastry chef at Cafe Annie). At Indika, you'll find it in dishes like saffron ice cream with pistachios seen above, while at Pondicheri you can dig into a Bournvita ice cream sandwich in the summer.
8. Pollo Bravo
Lúcuma ice cream at Pollo Bravo.
The Pollo Bravo on Richmond at the Beltway is the only place in town I know of that makes homemade lúcuma ice cream. In fact, they're still the only place I know that serves lúcuma ice cream, for that matter. The flavor is difficult to describe -- caramel custard or flan with a telltale chalkiness at the end -- and in its native Peru, lúcuma is the preferred ice cream flavor over any other.
7. La Paletera
The creamy dulce de leche ice cream bar at La Paletera was one of Robb Walsh's perennial favorites: "The mango and coconut ice creams at La Paletera are both excellent, but the dulce de leche paleta is stunning," he wrote. "The caramel ice cream bar tastes like the middle of a Milk Dud, only richer and creamier. Try one of these on a hot day."