Paletas, ice cream, snow cones, gelato, shaved ice, milk shakes and more — San Antonio has never been short on ways to make it through the sticky summer days and nights. Our yearly roundup of the latest treats you should be gravitating toward is here. Eat your way through it to survive this summer.Pop-dates • Steel City Pops / Alabama-based Steel City Pops announced its impending early-summer San Antonio debut in April.
The shop, at 812 S. Alamo St., will occupy approximately 3,600 square feet of production, office and dining space, and will also feature a covered patio. Steel City Pops is a privately owned popsicle company, which opened its first location in Homewood, Alabama in 2012. Since then, owner Jim Watkins and co. have expanded across Alabama, Tennessee and now Texas with 22 total stores in the forecast by the end of the year.
Steel City (Birmingham is known as the Pittsburgh of the South) is known for its small-batch organic popsicles ($3), which can be dredged, dipped or drizzled for an extra $1.50. It’ll join El Paraiso, Paleteria San Antonio, SA Pops, Pop’topia Pops in providing popsicles to a hot San Antonio when it opens.
The Southtown location will handle production, led by general manager Ben Cleveland, for smaller, satellite locations across San Antonio and mobile carts available for catering and major events. Though a concrete opening date has yet to be released, Cleveland advised that following @steelcitypopssanantonio is the public’s best bet for updates. 812 S. Alamo St., (210) 963-6540.
Popfogato / Paletas in cocktails has been a thing for a minute, but the guys at Estate Coffee Co. are turning to the Italian affogatos for inspiration these days.
Available now through the foreseeable hot summer days, Estate is offering popfogatos, a double espresso meets paleta combo similar to the Italian dessert that uses ice cream instead of popscicles.
“There’s no way we can do ice cream because we have no room for freezers, but paletas were a natural fit,” owner Brian LaBarbera said. The popfogato isn’t entirely new, coffee shops out of Louisville, Kentucky and Opelika, Alabama have been known to offer the cool treat as early as June of 2016.
Chocolate, vanilla and horchata are the only flavors available at this time, but Estate is open to other requests from customers. The paletas are sourced from El Paraiso on Fredericksburg. At $4 , the popfogato comes in a slightly larger cortado glass with your choice of paleta. 1320 E. Houston St., (210) 667-4347.
Whoa Waffles • Kuma / Hong Kong waffles officially made it in our fair city with the chilly December opening of Kuma.
Brought to you by partners Cong Li, Billy Ip and Kevin Chu (behind Nama Ramen), Kuma offers Hong Kong waffles topped with choice of ice cream, fixings and syrups. At around $8 a pop, the dessert isn’t entirely cheap, but it’s huge and shareable. I went with green tea ice cream, with green tea and chocolate Pocky and sweetened condensed milk, all enveloped in the crisp cone, which bubbles up right before your eyes on one of several waffle makers.
The menu is constantly evolving with new flavors of ice cream, drizzles and toppings. Recent favorites include torched marshmallows and unicorn ice cream. Get there early — the tiny shop has had steady lines of hungry followers since day one.
Kuma is open 2 to 11:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 2 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday and closed Sunday. 6565 Babcock Road, Suite 17, (210) 641-2888.
Bubble Waffle Bar / Bubble Waffle Bar, which opened mid-May is taking Hong Kong waffles to another level. Much like predecessors Paciugo and Kuma, and Ming’s Thing at the Pearl Farmers Market before it, Bubble Waffle Bar is helping San Antonians fall in love with this Chinese street food.
Owned by J. R. Gallegos, the colorful shop is located in front of Marshall High School. The menu is relatively streamlined. You’ll find sweet waffle cones available in vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, matcha and purple yam, waffle sundaes, waffle tacos (with three scoops and fixin’-infused waffle batter), and waffle sticks drizzled with flavored syrups.
Gallegos is also catering to bigger appetites by offering chicken, meatball, turkey, ham, and egg and cheese sandwiches along with a hash brown waffle, waffle pizza and chicken and waffles for brunch.
On the drink front, you’ll find sodas, loaded bubble tea, and gourmet milkshakes (because sometimes you need cotton candy rimmed milkshakes).
Prices vary from $4.99 for a plain cone to $7.99 for elaborate milkshake creations. Bubble Waffle Bar is open 9 a.m. to 8 pm. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. 7755 Eckhert Road, (210) 425-9813.
Magical Milkshakes and More • Honeysuckle Tea Time / Perhaps the most outlandish of our summertime treats this year comes by way of caterer Sara Hinojosa, who along with sister Olivia and a team of milkshake makers, took Instagram by storm with their ornate milkshakes this spring with Honeysuckle Tea Time.
Flavors include chocolate chai, chocolate mint, lavender vanilla and rose, with an orange blossom dreamsicle on the way for summer. And there are no holds barred when it comes to toppings and themes. The milkshakes often include tea-infused cupcakes, donuts, cookies, lollipops, neon marshmallows, chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate-covered strawberries, chocolate pearls, chocolate bark, brightly colored meringues, edible flowers, and all the edible glitter you can muster. Themes have included Fiesta, ice cream cone cannolis, Valentine’s Day, Girl Scouts, s’mores and, yes, unicorns.
There really is no holding back.
“It’s the aesthetic. We’re doing something totally different from any dessert option that’s currently offered,” Hinojosa said. “It’s so exciting when you hand it to somebody. They’re so excited about it. It’s something they haven’t seen before. it’s beautiful it’s delicious.”
Instead of Starbucks’ mango flavors and sour “unicorn tears,” Hinojosa and co. use a lavender shake base with funfetti sprinkles, lavender cupcakes, and iridescent decorations.
Hinojosa and co. are back in full swing after a brief vacation and will be found Friday and Saturday evenings at Dignowity Kolaches from 6 to 9 p.m. with a limited amount of milkshakes. Get there early.
Cool Churros • Honchos House of Churros / Gabriel Martinez, along with wife Elisa and brother Luis are bringing a bit of Ciudad Juarez to the Alamo City inside Honchos, their bright yellow House of Churros.
Stationed at 5824 Babcock Road, the small trailer has gained a solid following and it’s easy to see why. The fresh-made churros, filled with your choice of strawberry sauce, cajeta, Nutella, condensed milk or Honcho sauce (think spiced up caramel sauce) are $3 a pop. The recipe for the tasty treats was passed down by the brothers’ grandfather who made churros for his grandchildren during holidays and birthday parties.
But with the sweat-filled months we’re about to incur, the winning combination is the truck’s frozen churro made with a hefty scoop of ice cream and a halved churro for $5.
“My wife came up with this … it takes it to another level,” Gabriel said. Yes, yes it does.
More ice cream flavors are in the works as well as more toppings with Gabriel noting he wants to add something new every week to the makeshift menu that’s taped to the truck. Honchos is open from 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.