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8 cool San Antonio ice cream shops for beating the summer heat

8 cool San Antonio ice cream shops for beating the summer heat

Lick Ice Creams cone
Lick Honest Ice Creams brings fresh Texas flavors to their scoops. Photo by Annie Ray

News flash: It’s hot — the kind of South Texas heat that will melt the flip-flops right off your feet. But don’t worry, relief is on its way at these eight great San Antonio ice cream parlors. From a River Walk staple to a perfect paleteria, these cool shops are proof positive that not all heroes wear capes. Some, in fact, wear cones.

Brindle’s Awesome Ice Creams
Taste the rainbow at this colorful Huebner Road haunt, which features a rotating selection of some of the most vibrant flavors in Alamo City. Try a scoop of gelato in traditional flavors like gianduja (a chocolate hazelnut combo similar to Nutella) and frutti di bosco (mixed berry) or out-of-the-box options like Guinness chocolate and avocado. If you're feeling fancy, dive into a strawberry sundae topped with a chocolate drizzle and crunchy pecans.

El Paraiso
No San Antonio shop is as aptly named as this long-running paleta palace. Chill out with delectable bars ranging from creamy selections like horchata, vanilla raisin, and coconut to tropical delights like cantaloupe, tamarind, and pineapple. Need something more savory to cut all the sweet? They have you covered with several chili flavored fruit bars and even one made with pickles.

The House
What’s better than a frosty bowl of ice cream on a sweltering day? A frosty bowl of ice cream that has been kicked up with a little booze. Part ice cream parlor and part dive bar, this Southtown hangout is the cure for the summertime blues. We like the Dirty Sailor with chocolate caramel candies in Mexican dark chocolate ice cream and a shot of Sailor Jerry spiced rum. Little ones will rave about zero-proof concoctions like Blutella, which is blueberry ice cream with a Nutella swirl.

Justin’s Ice Cream Company
This San Antonio institution has been luring tourists and locals alike to the River Walk since opening in 1981. The reason is the insanely tasty ice cream, made in small batches and mixed by hand. A favorite of young and old, Justin’s serves American classics like banana splits and ice cream floats alongside Italian goodies like affogatos. The mango ice cream is as close to heaven as you're likely to get in the blistering San Antonio heat.

Break up your ice cream routine by trying the bubbly Hong Kong waffle cones (gai daan jai) at this tiny Tanglewood charmer. Each Insta-worthy treat is stuffed with colorful scoops ranging from Asian flavors like ube (purple yam) and matcha to crowd-pleasers like chocolate brownie and cookie dough. The real fun begins as you customize your creation with sauces and add-ons like panda cookies, Pocky, fortune cookies, Fruity Pebbles, sprinkles, marshmallows, and buñuelos. The result is a sugar bomb that will make all your followers green with envy.

Lick Honest Ice Creams
With all dairy sourced from McGregor’s Mill King Market & Creamery and seasonal ingredients harvested from local farms, this adorable Pearl shop is a valentine to Texas. Although known for using unconventional ingredients like cilantro and beets, Lick has plenty of approachable flavors for the whole family like milk chocolate, honey and vanilla bean, and horchata. But the seasonal menus are where Lick really stretches its creative muscles with innovative scoops like honeyed peaches with rosemary; dewberry corn cobbler; and zesty blackberry, lime, and basil.

Rio de Gelato
Get swept away at this friendly downtown cafe, which offers a seasonal selection of flavors served in gourmet cones made from scratch. The no-frills shop puts all its effort into what counts — continental coolers like raspberry almond mascarpone, cappuccino, arancini, stracciatella, and biscotti. If you need a little sustenance beforehand, the shop's thin-crust pizzas and buttery garlic breadsticks are legit.

SubZero Ice Cream
Husband-and-wife founders Jerry and Naomi Hancock may not have landed a deal when they appeared on Shark Tank, but that didn’t stop their franchise from becoming a runaway hit. Using liquid nitrogen, the shop freezes its ice cream instantly for a smoother, creamier product that is available in a wide variety of flavors mixed with everything from cheesecake bites to peanut butter cups. Best of all, the base is available in low-fat, yogurt, sugar-free, and vegan options to fit almost any diet.