Shaved ice and assorted icy treats go hand-in-hand with summertime! I have two favorites from my own childhood: the purely nostalgic snow-cones that we cranked out of my beloved Snoopy sno-cone machine, and the delicious “shave ice,” complete with toppings, that is a prominent part of some of my best memories from living in Hawaii.
Keeping our kids (and selves) cool is critical to prolonging all those fun-in-the-sun adventures. The DC area is beautifully diverse, with an array of options to help beat the heat, while offering the opportunity to experience how various cultures enjoy cooling off in tasty ways. I invite you to ditch the sugar-water ice pops in plastic this year, and visit some of these spots for delicious snow cones, shaved ice, and icy treats in the DMV!
Not-your-average popsicles! These ice pops hail from Mexico and are made with fresh fruit and sometimes cream, usually decorated with additional fruit, nuts, or herbs. This is one both parents and kids will enjoy.
Jarabe Gourmet Pops: handcrafted small batch paletas made with quality local ingredients (organic, no preservatives, artificial flavors or colors). Jarabe’s menu includes fruity, creamy, boozy, and even spicy pops for the more adventurous. They can be found at the following farmers markets around DC (Foggy Bottom, Mount Pleasant, Half Street, and Palisades); Maryland (Silver Spring, Pike Central, and Bethesda) and in Virginia (Mosaic).
Or, for those of us with some island roots, “shave ice” or even “ice shave” has become known as the popular quintessential Hawaiian treat that originated from Japan. Large blocks of ice are shaved to light, fluffy fineness, and the flavored syrups and toppings are added after it’s been shaped. Most of the places in our area to pick up a cone are food trucks, and this is fun for kids in and of itself!
Bear’s Shaved Ice: ready to cater an event with shaved ice? Use this family-owned, white truck featuring a polar bear. They have several flavors!
Capitol Snow (6201 Franconia Rd., Alexandria): this truck offers “New Orleans style snoballs” made of finely shaved ice flavored with syrups that are made from scratch from locally sourced fresh fruit, which is a big selling point for me. Optional toppings of marshmallow fluff, sweetened condensed milk, and tamarindo are free.
Other icy treats in the DMV to keep an eye out for:
Blanca’s Snowcones: (Truck – 4821 Columbia pike, Arlington; 4306 St Barnabas Rd., Temple hills
Houeys: (Truck – Upper Marlboro)
IceGreen Snowballs: (National Harbor – in Tanger Outlets)
Halo halo literally means “mix-mix” in Tagalog and is a Filipino icy dessert worth trying. A true dessert: the finely shaved ice is topped with sweetened condensed milk, ice cream, coconut, sweet beans, fruit, sugar palm, and sometimes flan. The combined flavors and textures are delectable.
Tiki on 18th: a fun bar spot in Adams Morgan to transport you to somewhere a bit more tropical, they offer halo halo with all the above toppings plus macapuno, nata de coco, and crispy rice flakes.
Purple Patch: It is no surprise that the Filipino restaurant serving up culture classics to DC also offers the yummy mixed dessert: theirs features coconut gel, red mung beans, white beans, jackfruit, sugar palm, fresh ube, leche flan, sweetened condensed milk, ube ice cream & toasted coconut served over shaved ice.
Kababayan Filipino Kitchen: If you find yourself further (perhaps after a day exploring Oqquoquan), this casual cafeteria kitchen also has great halo halo that is easy to take in a to-go cup!
The Korean version of shaved ice is different in that the block shaved is either frozen milk or cream, then topped with fresh fruit and includes standard flavors as well as matcha and sweet red bean.
Shilla Bakery and Cafe: Chocolaty options, cookie crumble options, and even mochi additions can be found at this cafe. (Tyson’s Corner – in the mall)
Siroo Juk Story: Flavors offered here under their snow ice menu are chocolate, gold (red bean), strawberry and mango. (Annandale VA; Centreville VA; Ellicott City, MD)
Breeze Bakery: Topped with fresh fruit, added gelato or frozen yogurt, and finished with delicious sauces. (Annandale, VA)
Bao Bing or Taiwanese Ice
Bao bing is made by shaving frozen blocks of fruit juice blends, instead of water or milk. Strawberry and mango are always available, or try pandan (fragrant and nutty), or green tea (for mom!). The sky is the limit with toppings: fruit, crunchy cereals, boba, jelly, mochi, and even cheesecake are common choices.
Snow Show (6769 Wilson Blvd., Falls Church)
Snocream Company (4221 John Marr Dr., Annandale, located in the Block food hall)
Italian Ice or Water Ice
Italian ice is typically made by blending juice into sweetened water before it is frozen and processed. The smooth texture is similar to ice cream or sorbet, but without milk. It is a great option for those in search of a cool, dairy-free indulgence.
Carmen’s Italian Ice: Maryland-based Carmen’s is a popular place with two locations, in Rockville and Olney. They offer homemade fresh “Jersey-style desserts” in the form of Italian ice, custard, combos, and popsicles, gelati, and milkshakes. With an incredibly extensive flavor menu, you’re sure to find a winner for every member of the family. (Pro-tip: the Rockville location is near a playground.) Carmen’s also caters, and sells coolers to go, for those planning summer birthday parties or other events!
Rita’s: This is a well-recognized chain operating many convenient locations. Find them in Brookland, Oxen Hill, College Park, Alexandria, and Vienna. Rita’s sells Italian ice-custard combos, as well as other cold treats and custard cookies sandwiches. They have a rewards program through the app, and sell party packs too.
It is HOT out there. Visit some of these spots for shaved ice and assorted icy treats in the DMV. Share your favorites and enjoy this summer!
Looking for a new adventure to try this summer after you’ve grabbed one of these? Check out our extensive list of summer activities!