Wanted in Houston: An Old-School, Over-the-Top Ice Cream Parlor

Categories: Sweets

Cabot.s.Sundae.jpg
Photo from stuffboston.com
The "Dentist Disaster" Sundae at Cabot's.
While there are certainly a few glaring gaps in Houston's restaurant scene (Burmese?), I am and continue to be pleasantly gobsmacked by the diversity of our city's food options. Which makes the absence of one particular thing all the more painful.

Are you there, God? It's me, Joanna. Please bring Houston an old-school-style, over-the-top ice cream parlor.

From my Sunday perambulations, I know there are plenty of places to get decent sundaes in Houston. I can design my own at Amy's or choose from a handful of pedestrian options at Baskin-Robbins or Ben & Jerry's. And I certainly don't want to ignore Ritter's in Katy, home of the "mud" sundae, a concoction guaranteed to put you in a chocolate coma.

But none of these places exactly fits the bill. I long for an ice cream shoppe with an extensive menu of creative sundae options (beyond brownie, hot fudge and butterscotch), plus an array of malts, shakes, frappes and other ice cream concoctions available in dozens of flavors with an equal amount of toppings. And I want this place to be, well, in Houston (not other "nearby" smaller towns or communities). Not necessarily in the Loop, but not a day trip, if you know what I mean.

New York's Serendipity 3 is pretty damn close to the ice cream parlor of my dreams, though I shudder at its inflated prices. But its semi-fancy, whimsical, large-and-in-charge creations served in pseudo-fancy glasses are what I'm seeking. Other model ice cream parlors include Orlando's Beaches and Cream, San Francisco's Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop, and, best of all, Cabot's in Newton, Massachusetts. The latter's "S'mores" sundae is almost enough to make me return to Boston despite the wretched weather and sky-high rents.

I really hope it's only a matter a time before some bold entrepreneur with ample angel funding home-grows H-town's very own over-the-top ice cream parlor or, at the least, opens a branch of any of the aforementioned standout shoppes.

It's only going to get hotter, which means my cravings for a five-plus-scoop sundae with all the fixins' served in a fishbowl with an extra-long spoon will only intensify. Please don't make me move back to Beantown.



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24 comments
Houstess
Houstess

Farrell's was this place. If you ate the pig trough, they would come through with drums and present you with a sticker that read "I made a pig of myself at Farrell's."  They are coming back with more franchises, just not to Houston yet.  There hasn't been a reason to go to the Galleria since then.

Steven107
Steven107

The ice cream parlor chain that was in Houston was Farrell's not Ferrell's.  There was also a location in Almeda Mall.  I always remember it because it had the candy store out front, and whenever someone was having a birthday and ordered the zoo, the volcano, or the pig's trough, the employees, who dressed in red and white striped shirts and wore straw hats, would run through the restaurant with a hand-cranked siren and a big bass drum to announce the birthday. I used to love to get their sundaes. They had an amazing blackberry topping that I could not find anywhere else. I also remember that they used to top the sundae with a crispy wafer cookie, and we always got the 2 cent seltzers.  Farrell's still operates on the west coast in California and Hawaii. Here is the link to the web site: http://www.farrellsusa.com/   There was another chain of old-fashioned ice cream parlors in this area called Polar Bear Ashburn's. One was located in Dickinson, TX on 517.  I think there was one in Texas City as well, but my memory has faded.  Take a look at this video from The Food Network Show "Top 5" for a look at one of the Farrell's that's still operating in California  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qo5nrisLPy0

Anyone remember Shakey's Pizza?  They still operate in California as well. We always eat there whenever we go to Disneyland in Anaheim, California.


kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editortopcommenter

There's always The Chocolate Bar. Go to Candylicious ahead of time, buy a metric ton of Snowcaps or Reese's Pieces or Warheads or whatever floats your boat, walk next door to The Chocolate Bar, order the Thin Mint ice cream (WITH REAL THIN MINTS), top with your choice of candy at your table. It's not anywhere near the same, but it's messy and will cause people to move a few tables away from you.

hparker1
hparker1

At one time there were several Swensen's in Houston including one on Voss Rd and one in Westbury. Those were real ice cream shoppes.

timblack2
timblack2 topcommenter

Ferrell's man. That place was Valhalla for a kid in the late 70s/early 80s

txjboy
txjboy

Ferrell's was the ice cream parlor next to the Galleria ice rink.  2-K's next to the Galleria area Sakowitz was excellent.  For us oldtimers, Reddig's Ice Cream was the gold standard.

Loona_c
Loona_c

I've thought the same thing.  Houston has a dearth of eat-in ice cream shoppes (not shops). Years and years ago there used to one in the Galleria  (Swensons?).  With crazy bowls of ice cream to be shared.  One called the Pig I believe. 

stinapag1
stinapag1

I was JUST saying this to my husband.  I really like La King's Confectionary in  Galveston, but it's not EXACTLY right. http://www.lakingsconfectionery.com/ 

When I was a kid, my parents used to take me to Swenson's on the drag in Austin. That place rocked.  I think there was one also in the Galleria at the ice skating level, but I don't remember going there.  


sarahlrjohnston
sarahlrjohnston

I know some cats who are gonna help you out with this real soon. Meow.

johnc20041918
johnc20041918

Sorry, Buy Kimball's in Westford, MA (and now other locations) is by far the best ice cream in the state and for some weird reason New Englander's eat the most Ice Cream of any region in the country.  There are a lot of great, local places still making their own and Kimball's is the best.  They also have some insane sundays.

jsoleary
jsoleary

@kshilcutt Good idea! But I don't want to work that hard. Also, what about whipped cream, cherries, liquid toppings?

stinapag1
stinapag1

@timblack2 Whoops, my bad. Swensens in Austin, Ferrell's in Houston.  I remember a birthday party or two there for some of my friends, but my parents never took us independently, no matter how much we begged or looked forlornly into the window. 

jsoleary
jsoleary

@Loona_c I know I'm not the first person (and now here's proof) to make this observation. 

I would love to eat an ice cream sundae called "The Pig" but I might not share.

jsoleary
jsoleary

@johnc20041918 What about Brigham's in terms of homemade ice cream? Also, I have family in West Medford, so "holla" as they say.

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