The Coolest Ice Pop Shops from Coast to Coast
With temperatures ablazin’, these sticks of frozen fruit, herbs, booze and beyond will cool you down and keep you hydrated in a delicious way.
Photo By: Cassy Iverson
Photo By: Katy Millard
Avocado Paleta at Las Paletas (Nashville)
This adorable little shop in the trendy 12 South neighborhood of Nashville is helping a whole new generation fall in love with Mexican-style ice pops, called paletas. Each day they photograph their chalkboard menu to share on Instagram with rotating flavors like strawberry chocolate chip and pineapple blueberry. A favorite is the traditional avocado pop. The perky green pop is creamy (and nutritious!) and a constant request of both kids and adults.
Banana Pudding Pop at Steel City Pops (Homewood, Alabama)
With the popularity of pop shops in the southern U.S., it shouldn’t be a surprise that banana pudding pops have made their way onto menus as a summery ode to the beloved dessert. As Steel City Pops, with locations in four states, over 20 varieties are served at a given time, from fruity to creamy, but the banana pop combines it all with chunks of banana, whole milk and cream, vanilla bean and organic cane sugar and pieces of housemade gluten-free vanilla shortbread cookies.
Thai Tea Pops at Popfancy Pops (Houston)
Thai tea has long been a favorite for tempering the fiery flavors of Thai cuisine, and at this mall pop shop, the combo becomes a cooling organic ice pop, ideal for cooling the fiery heat of Houston summers. A love letter to the diversity of Southeast Asian food in the state, it combines seven-spice Asaam black tea and condensed milk in a sweet and creamy pop.
Rhubarb with Chocolate Drizzle at Seattle Pops (Seattle)
A visit to a pop shop down south inspired the creation of this Northwest Pacific ice pop shop, which is filled with creamy and fruity pops that use local ingredients whenever possible. A favorite is the rhubarb when it’s in season, a tangy treat drizzled with chocolate for sweetness (or without if you choose).
Blueberry Lemongrass at People’s Pops (New York City)
These cult-beloved pops are sold at outdoor markets and at a stand on Manhattan’s beloved High Line park. Flavors rotate, but reliably blend herbs and fruits to concoct not-too-sweet flavors that are unique from the norm. Try coconut cream-lime, watermelon-mint, blueberry-lavender, lemon-ginger or blueberry-lemongrass if they’re available.
Pineapple Upside Down Ice Pop at MemPops (Memphis)
These Memphis pop shops are all about creating unique and all-natural flavors from local produce. In fact, one of their favorite pops came from an experiment gone well. The Pineapple Upside Down Pop is made with a real pineapple upside down cake! They bake the cake and then mix it up with their vanilla bean pop mix to create a smooth, custardy frozen spin on the retro favorite.
Cookie Dough Pop at Lil Pop Shop (Philadelphia)
Small-batch pops and pies are the specialties at this Philadelphia shop. A favorite is the Cookie Dough Pop, mashing up their traditional vanilla-bean-with-rainbow-sprinkles pop with a layer of chocolate chip cookie dough on each side. They use local ingredients whenever possible, including sourcing cream and milk from Maplehofe Dairy. It’s an ice cream sandwich in a pop!
Boozy Cucumber Jalapeno at 3 Eleven (Dallas)
To beat the hot Texas heat, 3 Eleven turns summer cocktails into boozy pops. The flavors rotate, but the most-refreshing is the cucumber-jalapeno, made with cucumber, jalapeno, lime, a touch of simple syrup and local Dallas Katy Trail vodka.
Beet Orange Mango at The Hyppo (St. Augustine, Florida)
This bright, vibrant ice pop tastes as colorful as it looks, with fresh Florida orange juice, fresh-squeezed beet juice and mangoes from Merrit Island, Florida. What started as a humble ice pop stand in downtown St. Augustine has burgeoned into one of Florida’s most-popular spots — with several locations serving over 450 flavors.
Creamy Mango Matcha at Stubborn Seed (Miami)
Chef Jeremy Ford may dish out classic, beautifully plated fare for breakfast and lunch, but when it comes to dessert at Stubborn Seed, things get more whimsical. His mango matcha ice pop still utilizes the same honest ingredients with childhood nostalgia. He combines mango with condensed milk, lime juice and vanilla puree and adds in matcha powder and more condensed milk.
Strawberry Daiquiri Ice Pop at Departure (Denver)
This modern Asian restaurant serves sushi and a menu of flavor-packed cooked dishes like Korean chicken with a sesame-chile sauce, and sticky garlic-caramel steak skewers. To quell fiery tastebuds, they offer boozy fruit pops at dessert. Beach dreams aren’t too far away with the strawberry daiquiri — a pop made with white rum and orange liqueur, orange juice, sugar, water and fresh strawberries, of course.
Avocado Basil Paleta at Lona Cocina y Tequileria (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
Funky décor meets scratch-made Mexican food at this South Florida beachside restaurant. Since it’s always hot in the Sunshine state, paletas are pretty much always a no brainer. This version starts with the popular avocado version, then adds fresh basil, coconut milk, agave, lime and a splash of blanco tequila. The pop is served in freeze pop form to catch any dribbles.
Negroni Pop at Coquine (Portland, Oregon)
This quaint little Portland restaurant is always rotating its menu based on what’s seasonal; in the summer ice pops pop into the rotation. Family-friendly versions — chocolate pudding, peach-lemon verbena — are a hit, but their adult Negroni ice pop has become a destination dessert. Made with 1/5 of the cocktail, it’s a lickable aperitif.
Mangoneadas at Pop Fizz (Albuquerque)
Pops come in a wide range of flavors here, including sweet and spicy, and all are made with fresh fruit and real cane sugar. A favorite is the magoneadas, made with tropical mango and then kicked up with the fermented hot sauce chamoy, a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of tajin chile powder.
Tri-flavored Strawberry Daiquiri, Margarita, Blue Raspberry-Chambord Ice Pop at Gideon Sweet (Chicago)
Push pops for the 21-and-over set, these cocktails-on-a-stick are the ultimate boozy summer treat, with three different favorite cocktail flavors colorfully layered into a lickable whole. Beloved in hot months at Graham Elliot and Matthias Merges’ Chicago spot, the pops include pink strawberry daiquiri melding into tangy margarita with blue raspberry-Chambord leaving your tongue with a blue tint. The strawberry-peach margarita is another summer refresher — with strawberry and peach puree, Triple Sec and tequila, of course.
Akram Bhai's Kulfi Stick at Curry Up Now (San Francisco)
What started as a food truck is now one of San Fran’s favorite fast-casual Indian restaurants. While the main dishes may turn up the heat with their "insanely spicy" and "hella hot" sauces, their take on an ice pop are on hand to cool things down. The kulfi stick adapts traditional New Delhi-style mango kulfi, a denser ice cream of sorts, shaping it into lickable form on a stick, served with candied fennel.