Summer Eats: Welcome to the Frozone

14 Mind-Bogglingly Delicious Icy Treats to Devour in Portland Right Now

Beat the heat with Taiwanese snow cream, vegan shakes, boozy pops, and spicy pineapple floats. And much, much more.

By Kelly Clarke June 19, 2018 Published in the July 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

Image: Thomas Teal

Lava Flow Shave Ice (Wailua Shave Ice)

Last summer this Hawaiian outfit moved into downtown shopping corridor Union Way, toting mountains upon mountains of fruit-soaked snow (and long weekend lines) with them. With freshly squeezed fruit syrups and lighter-than-air globes of ice, Wailua’s chillers are mercifully less sweet than your typical American SnoCone, and served atop a core of ice cream on request (which you should do). There’s not a flavor dud in the rotating bunch, from tangy lilikoi and Creamsicle-y Wailua Sunrise to pineapple-coconut Lava Flow and the Love Potion #9—which tastes like strawberry shortcake in cloud form. $6 and up

Ice Cream Sandwich (180 Xurros)

Where have you been all our lives, you crispy, cinnamon-sugary, melty-sweet marvel? The city’s prime pusher of Spanish xurros outdoes itself with its dessert sandwiches: scoops of custardy Salt & Straw ice creams smooshed between feather-light, fried-to-order xurro coils. Available only during summer months, they taste like the refined, worldly cousin of an Oregon State Fair midway treat. Watch out, they melt fast—be prepared to shove the whole thing directly in your mouth. $5.25

Image: Thomas Teal

Spicy Dole Whip Float (Zero Degrees)

The Dole Whip was once a coveted Disneyland-only treat: rich pineapple soft serve, sold right outside the Tiki Room. Today, it’s available across the nation, but quirky, California-born Mexican-Asian snack and dessert chain Zero Degrees improves on its perfection by splicing in the DNA of an LA fruit cart and adding a deluge of pineapple juice. All hail this tower of pineapple power, its überdense peaks adorned with strawberries, chamoy sauce, and flecks of Tajin chile salt. Spoon in from the top for a wild, savory-sweet mouthful; get a tart, juicy slurp when sucked up though the tamarind straw. (Oh, and did we mention it’s vegan?) $5.50

Bonus: Zero Degrees’ ube milkshake looks like a purple My Little Pony nightmare but tastes like earthy kettle corn buzzed to a giddy froth. Made with purple yam and crowned with sour gummi and an actual rainbow, it is just TOO MUCH ... in the best way. $6.50

Bubble Waffle Sundae (Fooshion)

The Hong Kong–style bubble waffles at Selena Gao’s modest downtown cart are pure, poofy happiness: eggy and toasty, crisp yet pillowy. The crew folds each griddled-to-order wonder into a stubby cone and adds ice cream. And sweet condensed milk. Aaand, say, strawberry Pocky. And Fruity Pebbles. And Nutella. And little fruit balls that burst on contact with your tongue. Staffers walk overwhelmed newbies through topping choices, then carefully arrange each icy vanilla, chocolate or green tea dome with goodies like half-moons Oreos and crowns of blueberries. Pro tip: Tear off a single waffle bubble and smear it high with icy goop for maximum crunch-to-cream impact per bite. Bonus: color-changing plastic spoons! $6.99 and up, 533 SW Ninth Avenue

Image: Thomas Teal

Taro Shaved Snow Cream (Mo Cha Tea House)

Admire this heap of delicate, fluffy ribbons, more stylish than a Vera Wang wedding gown. Now eat it. The Taiwanese dessert’s ripples are made by “shaving” a block of hard ice cream on a spindle, yielding a feathery texture that melts away into silky sweetness with each bite. Choose a flavor—milk snow to matcha or mango—then let the pros at this Beaverton cafe adorn your baroque flurry with a rainbow of fruit jellies and drizzles, caramel to chocolate. What a world. $8.95 and up

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Coconut-Soy Milkshake (Next Level Burger)

All the pleasure of an old-school soda-jerk milkshake; none of the moo-juice-induced unpleasantness. The Bend-born chain delivers a criminally good choco-peanut buttery shake, drizzled with Holy Kakow syrup and chunky with dark chocolate. Request half soy, half house coconut soft serve for a toasty-sweet linger. Be careful not to burst a blood vessel hoovering up sips through the wide-gauge straw. $5.25–6.50

Image: Thomas Teal

Chamoyada (Ome Calli)

The Beaverton Mexican paleta emporium’s wildest draw is the chamoyada—a Slurpee on steroids, garnished with an entire frozen pop and tamarind leather. Its secret weapon? Fruity, spicy house chamoy sauce, made from pickled plums, which adds a funky sour-sweet kick to an already super-intense fruit punch or lime slushie. The brain-busting treat comes in three increasingly ridiculous tiers: Regular nets you a raspado and paleta with Pulparindo on the side; Super and Mega just add more layers of spicy-sweet crazy, from tamarind straws to mango leather. $5–9

Fresh fruit heads may prefer Portland Mercado juice bar Xocotl's tart, all natural chamoyada: icy mango chunks blended smooth, doused in house chamoy, and sprinkled with a spice blend of chile, lime, and dried grasshoppers. $6

Flavor Burst Soft Serve (Pizza Jerk)

The tall, drippy, trippy cones at Northeast’s punk pizza paradise elicit a whoop of delight on first sight. (Imagine unexpectedly meeting a unicorn. Or Joe Biden.) They taste as silly, over-the-top good as they look, as the fruity, syrupy ridges beam laser-bright, defiantly unnatural flavors. What tastes like strawberry Lip Smacker, root beer barrels, or “blue goo” comes atop the most basic of vanilla soft serve and a Styrofoam-crispy cake cone. It’s the Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper of desserts. Psst: Tuesday is Free Ice Cream Day (with pizza purchase). Squeee!  $3.50

Perfect Pints

Three creamy stunners that want to come home with you

1. Salt & Straw June Chef Series Tokyo PB&J Le Pigeon and Canard main man Gabe Rucker upends a childhood lunch fave: smuggling rich veins of peanut butter swirled with whiskey-smacked strawberry jam in toasty, salty-sweet rice and white soy ice cream. Psst: July brings Oregon Berry flavors—goat cheese marionberry habanero to birthday cake and blackberries. $9

2. Aviv Hatch Chile Vegan Coconut The Mediterranean vegan outfit stocks its dining room cooler with pints of unorthodox house-made coconut milk ice creams, including this screaming-hot number infused with roasted Hatch chiles—the sharp pepper wallop and cooling creamy coconut is a match made in Hades. $9

3. Pinolo Lemon-Basil Gelato The allure of Sandro Paolo’s achingly rich Italian gelato is its ephemeral nature. The Pisa native plans special flavors only two weeks in advance, plucking the summer’s ripest peaches, blueberries, or sugar plums to churn into creamy magic. Your surest bet? Tart lemon with refreshing basil, a much-requested favorite slated to be available through August. $9.75

Plus: Invite Sloshy Pops to Your Backyard Rager

How to improve on the Popsicle’s near-perfection? Add booze and Oregon fruit and herbs. That’s the brainstorm behind Sloshy Pops, which delivers the vibe of a cocktail bar patio in the sunshine—just frozen, on a stick. Service industry insiders Cheryl Lisowski and Carl Forsman craft rotating flavors as the seasons march on, from rummy rhubarb with a silky crema core to a peach bourbon bar laced with lime zest, orange oil, and peach bitters. (They also pack bars with dehydrated summer berries they rehydrate with booze.) Not too sweet and with around a half-a-shot of spirits per bar, the mostly events-only operation is already a hit at parties and weddings. Keep an eye out for Sloshy’s bright blue cart at some summer street fairs, or, better yet, have ’em deliver a cooler of pops for your own home bash. 

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