In 2005 in California, Pinkberry frozen yogurt shops began selling the concoction. Pinkberry began with just a few flavors, including the Original tart yogurt. As the popularity of the brand's product grew, so did the number of flavors and individual frozen yogurt establishments.
Maybe the reason for the popularity of this creamy, ice-cream-like yogurt can be credited to its being lighter and "healthier" than regular full-fat ice cream. Or maybe it's because frozen yogurt is trendy, and let's face it, we all jump on the bandwagon of something glamorous and fun like froyo. Or maybe it's because we love the feeling of getting to dispense whatever swirl, blend or combination of pretty frozen yogurt colors and flavors, then topping it with everything from cereal and chocolate chips to fresh fruit and gummy bears.
Whatever the reason is, frozen yogurt is a dessert trend many absolutely adore. But gone are the days of single Pinkberry establishments in California and New York; Houston has its own lineup of froyo shops. So, to make your decision of where to swirl yourself a cup of yogurt easier, we give you the top five frozen yogurt shops in Houston. You're welcome.
Speaking of Pinkberry, this frozen yogurt shop has come a long way since it first began doing business in 2005. Now, its frozen yogurt lineup includes so much more than just the Original tart flavor. Indulgent varieties such as Cookies & Cream, Chocolate Hazelnut, Butter Pecan and Peanut Butter are served alongside fruitier flavors such as Mango, Peach, Key Lime, Lychee, Tangerine and Cherry. Pinkberry still sticks to its original way of serving yogurt, so you don't get to dispense your combination of flavors by yourself. However, that just means you will always have the perfect swirl in your cup. Pricing is a bit different, too; your yogurt is at a flat price per cup or cone instead of by the ounce; each cup or cone size has a specific price with and without toppings. But, you can add as many toppings as you want (or can actually fit). So sprinkle some white chocolate crisps, strawberry slices, crumbled granola, shaved coconut, scoop of Cap n' Crunch cereal and yogurt chips on top for the ultimate froyo cup. Check out the website for suggested toppings of each flavor, or just wing it and see what you come up with.
Mini cup and cone: $2.95 (without toppings), $3.50 (with toppings) Small cup: $3.50, $4.90 Medium cup: $4.50, $5.95 Large cup: $6.50 and $7.95
Menchie's just recently took over two Swirll locations in Houston (West Gray and Westheimer), and it's definitely making a name for itself. One step inside Menchie's and you might feel overwhelmed. There's always a multitude of super-sweet flavors such as Birthday Cake, Mud Pie and Dulce de Leche, as well as tart fruity flavors, such as Blueberry Pomegranate Tart, Honeydew Melon Sorbet and Hawaii Pineapple. So, don't be skimpy on the samples. In fact, you're encouraged to try all of them. And who can pass up that offer? (However, such a wide variety of flavors increases the chance for error and for some of the varieties to taste artificial, such as the Wild Berry Tart or Banana.) Did we mention that on Monday nights you can fill up on as much yogurt as you can for just $5? Leaning tower of froyo.
Cost per ounce: $0.49 3. Red Mango
Red Mango is one of the newest additions to the frozen yogurt scene in Houston, with a few locations downtown, in Sugar Land and The Woodlands. This self-serve froyo shop offers fewer flavors than its competitors, leading you to choose just one or two flavors instead of four or five, but that's not a reflection on each frozen yogurt's taste. Mix-and-match a couple of flavors such as a classic combo of The Original with Pomegranate, go sweet with Honey Badger and Spiced Brown Sugar, or go tart with White Peach and Mango. Red Mango also offers a line-up of truly lighter options with two dairy-free Skinny Sorbetto flavors: Raspberry and Dark Chocolate. Each of these is only 10 to 15 calories per ounce in comparison to the other flavors, which are near 30 calories per ounce. You can also have froyo made with Greek yogurt in a few flavors, including Original, Honey, Banana and White Peach.
Cost per ounce: $0.49
U-Swirl was the place to be when I was in college. Whether it was Weigh-In Wednesday, where you try to guess your froyo's weight to get it for free, or late-night date night, when it was BOGO, U-Swirl was always packed. After moving back to Houston and thinking that I would never get to enjoy U-Swirl ever again, I spotted the bright blue sign with the iconic green swirl on top of the "U." My prayers were answered. U-Swirl always has an excellent selection of flavors, as many as 20 different options at a time, and each is creamy and smooth, just like ice cream. Unfortunately, you cannot get your own samples -- an employee must dispense them for you. One of the most difficult flavors to master is peanut butter, because sometimes it just tastes like cold peanut butter (not refreshing at all) and other times it is so artificial that you can't bear to finish your sample cup. But, at U-Swirl, it has the perfect texture and consistency, making it one of the best peanut butter frozen yogurts available.
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Cost per ounce: $0.49
At first, I never thought a shop named Yogurtland would be any good. I mean, come on, it's called Yogurtland, land of the yogurt. Could the name be any more unoriginal? Anyway, I digress. The frozen yogurt flavors and variety of toppings at Yogurtland rock. Each time you visit, you're welcomed with a rotating lineup of fruity, chocolatey and seasonal flavors. However, you shouldn't miss out on one of the best flavors, pistachio. It's a nice change of pace from the standard strawberry, cake batter and chocolate flavors, and it pairs nicely with just about any flavor, especially Dutch Chocolate, Polynesian Vanilla and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie. Unlike at some places, these exotic flavors actually taste as they should, not artificial. With toppings varying from cheesecake bites and Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal to mochi balls and kiwi, you'll find yourself putting just about every single topping available on top of your froyo.
Cost per ounce: $0.42