This week, Robb Walsh explores the vast world of Houston's ice cream parlors in the feature story, "The Scoop." In the course of writing his article, he ate more ice cream than Napoleon Bonaparte did at the Ziggy Pig in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (but didn't get a pin afterwards). He imparts the wisdom gleaned during his research below, as he shares his top ten ice cream experiences in Houston.
10. CreamWorx 8817 Hwy. 6, Missouri City 281-778-2732
CreamWorx is an independent frozen-custard maker down on High-way 6 south of Sugar Land. The custard can be flavored with a complicated syrup injector system, but the final product comes out too soft. Forget the "flavorizing" machine and get a large waffle cone of the rich chocolate custard with a topping of crushed pecans.
9. Connie's Frozen Custard 12545 Jones Rd. 281-469-3444
Connie comes from Missouri, where frozen custard is an old tradition. She got her favorite hometown frozen-custard stand back in Missouri to share the recipe and opened a frozen-custard stand near her home in northwest Houston. Connie makes a new batch of custard every hour, so it's always fresh. Get a cone of plain vanilla, and you'll see what the frozen custard thing is all about.
8. Trentino Gelato
Available at various Houston locations, including Cricket's Creamery, Coffee Groundz and area farmers' markets. Buenos Aires native Marcelo Kreindel founded Trentino Gelato to re-create the Argentine style of gelato that he missed from back home. The artisan gelato maker, who started out in local restaurant kitchens, now has a small plant in downtown Houston. Try Trentino Gelato's dulce de leche. It was Evita Perón's favorite flavor of Argentine gelato, and now it's mine too.
7. Nundini Italian Deli 500 N. Shepherd Dr. 713-861-6331
Nundini makes most of the gelati you eat in Houston Italian restaurants. There are lots of exotic flavors, like prickly pear and spumoni, that you may want to try, but you can't go wrong with a cone topped with one scoop of Italian chocolate and one scoop of pistachio.
6. Indika 516 Westheimer 713-524-2170
The most innovative Indian restaurant in Houston, Indika, serves some awesome ice cream. Saffron ice cream sounds exotic to most Americans, but in fact the Persians were using saffron and wheat pudding to make a frozen dessert in 400 B.C. Chicoo is a fruit that tastes a little like dates. Try a combo plate of saffron-pistachio and chicoo ice cream.
5. Chocolate Bar 1835 W. Alabama 713-520-8599
This hip candy store caters to chocoholics with a wide variety of confections including truffles, bars and more than 20 flavors of ice cream -- all chocolate. Don't miss the Orange Sunrise, which is made with chocolate and fresh-squeezed Valencia orange juice, with lots of dried orange peel for texture.
4. Amy's Ice Cream 3816 Farnham 713-526-2697 Austin-based Amy's encourages wacky behavior from its employees, so don't be surprised to see people playing catch with your ice cream scoop. My favorite order is a waffle cone with two scoops, one of Mexican Vanilla mixed up with fresh strawberries and one of Dark Chocolate mixed up with Heath Bar.
3. La Paletera 5720 Bellaire 713-667-8311 and 1811 Wirt Rd. 713-467-0005
This franchise is headquartered in Houston, but it started out as a simple fruit cup and popsicle stand in Corpus Christi. The mango and coconut ice creams are both excellent, but the dulce de leche paleta is stunning. The caramel ice cream bar tastes like the middle of a Milk Dud, only richer and creamier.
2. Gelato Blu 5710 Memorial Dr. 713-880-5900
Sophisticates get their gelato affogato here, which means the ice cream is served in a bowl with a shot of espresso. Try the famous-artists combo, one scoop of Raffaello (apricots stewed in Pinot Grigio with pistachios) and one scoop of Michelangelo (ricotta cheese and figs) side by side in the same dish.
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1. Hank's Ice Cream Parlor 9291 S. Main 713-665-5103
A Houston favorite since 1985, Hank's is located in the shadow of Reliant Stadium and has become the unofficial ice cream of the Houston Texans cheerleaders. Get a waffle cone with one scoop of Butter Pecan and one scoop of Banana Pudding.