Fans of homegrown brands like Lick Honest Ice Creams know that the Austin and San Antonio areas serve up some of the best scoops in the country. So it's no surprise that on a recent list of the best (and worst) ice cream cities in America, Austin lands in the top 10, while San Antonio tops a subset of the survey.

At No. 27, San Antonio ranks in the middle of the best ice cream cities. But it wins the No. 1 slot for Best Shaved Ice, one of six additional categories.

The survey, compiled by real estate brokerage Home Bay, ranks 50 cities using factors such as the number of ice cream shops per capita, the price of a small cup or cone (using Ben & Jerry's as a benchmark), average annual temperature, and Google searches. Data sources include the U.S. Census Bureau, Yelp, and Google Trends.

The best
The best cities for ice cream have more shops (an average of 4.9 ice cream shops per 100,000 people), a high interest in ice cream (Google searches), and better prices, with a small cup of Ben & Jerry's averaging $4.47 versus the $4.50 residents pay in the average city.

Here's a surprise: Oklahoma City is America's best ice cream city, thanks to a high number of ice cream shops per capita as well as affordability.

Austin is the only Texas city in the top 10:

  1. Oklahoma City
  2. New Orleans
  3. Las Vegas
  4. San Jose, California
  5. Providence, Rhode Island
  6. Raleigh, North Carolina
  7. Salt Lake City
  8. Austin
  9. Boston
  10. Philadelphia

Way to go, Austin! This is what they say about Austin's ice cream scene:

Austin excels when it comes to appreciation of different ice cream styles. The city ranks third in our ice cream variety metric thanks to frequent searches for ice cream types and flavors. The slogan "Keep Austin Weird" is appropriate with so many locals going bananas: The city ranks first in online search interest for banana ice cream. Visitors can find two different types of banana ice cream — banana cream pie and strawberry banana — at local chain Amy's Ice Creams. Additionally, Austin has the seventh-warmest average temperature in our study, making ice cream especially appreciated as a sweet treat for relief from the heat.

The worst
The bottom 10 cities have fewer ice cream shops, higher costs, and less ice cream interest in the topic, which they judge by the number of Google searches for topics such as "ice cream near me" and "ice cream flavors."

The 10 worst ice cream cities are as follows:

  1. Memphis, Tennessee
  2. Riverside, California
  3. Washington, D.C.
  4. Miami
  5. Houston
  6. Baltimore
  7. Los Angeles
  8. Sacramento, California
  9. Dallas
  10. Jacksonville, Florida

These cities have only 2.2 ice cream shops per 100,000 people. The average city has 3.4 shops per 100,000 people. And Dallas has only 1.4 ice cream shops per 100,000 people.

Ice cream in these worst cities is also more expensive. A small cup of ice cream averages $4.80 in the bottom 10 cities, versus $4.50 for the average city in the study.

Ice cream in Missouri and Alabama is the cheapest: $3.99 for a small Ben & Jerry's cone. Washington, D.C. is the most expensive, at $5.35 for a cone.

San Antonio scoops up its first location of popular frozen custard chain

Any given sundae

A note to those San Antonio newcomers who have yet to replace sneakers and joggers for chanclas and shorts: Alamo City will soon be swelteringly hot. Luckily, a Missouri-based frozen dessert chain is ready to swoop in to deliver some sweet relief.

According to a release, Andy's Frozen Custard will debut its first local outpost at 17927 West IH-10 on May 11. The Rim shopping center site offers treats on the go with a speedy drive-thru and a walk-up window for wandering shoppers.

The bustling franchise has found success in the South and Southwest with a richer take on the summertime staple. Unlike ice cream, frozen custard adds egg yolks to the base mix for a denser, creamier texture. Andy's version adds a wallop of butterfat and a creepingly slow churn time for an even more decadent indulgence.

The custard is only offered in vanilla or chocolate, but the foundation can be mixed with 30 sweet and savory toppings. Along with familiar custard concretes, guests can opt for sundaes, splits, packed pints, and jackhammers — blended creations filled with a center add-on of choice.

Though the offerings are concocted at the company's Springfield, Missouri headquarters, local operators Joseph and Andrea Shields intend to keep a San Antonio focus. The couple plan to use profits to give to area schools and charities and intend to be an integral part of the community.

"Andy's Frozen Custard is more than just another scoop shop," said Joseph Shields via the release. "Whether the family is celebrating good school grades, needing a pick-me-up after a meeting, or just looking for a sweet treat, Andy's is a place where families and friends create new memories while enjoying the world's finest frozen custard and the highest levels of customer service."

The Shields will surely see plenty of families during the opening days (the company playfully calls it the "Grand Scoop'ning"). Among other promotions, kids under 12 can enjoy $1 sundaes until May 15. Older folks can download Andy's app and select San Antonio as their favorite store to receive a free one-topping concrete.

Photo courtesy of San Antonio Parks Foundation

8 things to know in San Antonio food right now: Fresh eatery blooms at Japanese Tea Garden

News you can eat

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of San Antonio’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings and closings

San Antonio restaurant Cappy Lawton will bring a new bloom to the Japanese Tea Garden this spring. San Antonio Parks Foundation’s director of communications Libby Day confirmed to CultureMap that the prolific restaurateur will be taking over operations at the Jingu House from Fresh Horizons Catering. Lawton, who runs Cappy’s, Cappycino’s, and Mama’s Café, is still working on the final menu. According to Day, there will be nods to the historic spot’s cultural heritage.

Construction is soon to begin on a new location of nationally acclaimed tortas ahogadas shop Ro-Ho Pork and Bread. A filing with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation states that the owners are developing at 618 Fair Ave. The restaurant has not made an official announcement yet, but the project is slated to be finished in late June.

Medical Center favorite Thyme for Lunch has become the latest local eatery to bow to pandemic pressures. On January 26, the restaurant’s owners took to Facebook to announce an indefinite hiatus brought about by “supply chain issues, rising staffing [costs], and other costs across the board.” Though the post did not share a reopening date, it did say the closure would last a “few months.” The last day of business was January 30.

Sleeper Floresville barbecue joint Two Sawers BBQ has also become a COVID casualty. Owners Randy and Jenna Sawers opened the concept as a tiny trailer in late 2015 before expanding to a brick-and-mortar in 2017. After six years in business, the couple said goodbye via an emotional social media post. January 22 was the last day of business.

Those obsessed with Instagram-friendly décor (or perhaps Trading Spaces designer Hildi Santo-Tomas’ aughts experiments with staple gun chic) have a new café to check out in The Rim. Via the social media platform (where else?), Kaffeinated Crepes and Coffee spilled the beans on its opening on January 29. Bedecked in hundreds of pink and purple silk flowers, the shop serves sweet treats seven days a week.

It looks like a new bar is giving it a go in the Stone Oak space that formerly housed black-lit club Chicago Bar. Newish company ADH Entertainment LLC has applied for a mixed beverage concept at 9141 Stone Oak Pkwy., suite 505 for a watering hole dubbed Forty-Two. Whether the name expresses an affinity for Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or baseball trailblazer Jackie Robinson is unknown. The drinkery does not appear to have established a web presence.

Other news and notes

Hot off The Hayden’s January 26 debut on the Cooking Channel, another San Antonio restaurant is getting its moment in the sun. This time, beefy Cooking Channel host Robert Irvine stopped by Paciugo Gelato and Caffè at 340 E. Basse Rd. to film a segment of Cheat Day USA. Franchise owner Mo Shideed has been wowing guests with a shivery spaghetti Bolognese, a riff on spaghettieis. The original dish, surprisingly of German origin, is made by extruding vanilla ice cream in a modified spätzle press. Shideed ups the ante with a ladyfinger “breadstick” and “meatballs” made of Ferrero Rochet candies. The episode airs at 2:30 pm on February 15.

Local beer maker Vista Brewing has teamed up with Salem, Massachusetts’ Notch Brewing on a collaborative pale ale. Brave Noise, available at the brand’s San Antonio taproom and its Driftwood ranch, raises funds for marginalized beer industry survivors of assault, harassment, and discrimination. Its namesake organization seeks to “provide inclusive and safe environments for women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ throughout the beer industry.”

Courtesy of Dairy Queen

Feds freeze out San Antonio-area Dairy Queen operator for $358,000 in back pay

Cold reality

The operator of 19 Dairy Queen locations in the San Antonio area has been ordered to pay more than $358,000 in back wages and interest for 31 managers.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division says it has recovered $358,200 from R&S Dairy Queens Inc. for the employees. The division determined the managers, who received less than the required minimum salary for managers under the Fair Labor Standards Act, were entitled to the minimum wage for every hour of work plus overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek.

The back wages cover the period from December 1, 2018, to December 31, 2020.

A federal judge in San Antonio backed up the division’s findings and barred R&S Dairy Queens from further violations of the Fair Labor and Standards Act’s overtime and record-keeping provisions. The court order was filed in August.

“Employers cannot avoid overtime requirements by simply giving an employee a title and paying them a salary. Most employees — even those paid a fixed salary or flat amount per day or shift — are entitled to overtime unless specific [federal] requirements are met,” Cynthia Ramos, the division’s district director in San Antonio, says in a November 1 news release.

The 19 franchise locations operated by New Braunfels-based R&S Dairy Queens have about 350 full- and part-time employees.

Natalie Rougeux, a New Braunfels employment attorney representing R&S Dairy Queens, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Courtesy of Museum of Ice Cream

Immersive Museum of Ice Cream experience pops into Texas this summer


An immersive museum experience returning to Texas this summer promises to be the cream of the crop.

The Museum of Ice Cream — first floated as an idea at South By Southwest and then as a New York City pop-up in 2016, since becoming an international a la mode sensation with a sprinkling of sold-out exhibitions throughout the country — will pop into Austin on Saturday, August 21, at the Domain, at 11506 Century Oaks Terrace No. 128.

Tickets are currently available in limited quantities through September 30. Ice cream lovers can make reservations online.

The Museum of Ice Cream will feature 12 reimagined and never-before-seen installations “dedicated to the celebration and experience of enjoying ice cream.”

Creamy, dreamy, interactive highlights include Cream’s candy shop, the yellow Banana Jungle, Shirley Temple soft serves dolloped out to museum visitors in the 1960s retro diner, available rides on a life-size animal cookie in the Carnival Room, and the ultimate MOIC experience: a dip and slide into the world-famous Sprinkle Pool.

And for the first time in Sprinkle Pool history, visitors can even reserve an exclusive poolside cabana for private events in what could be the most whimsical and bizarre pool party ever.

The exhibition will also feature the debut of the Museum of Modern Ice Cream installation, which features imaginative, ice-creamified takes on classic works of art and encourages visitors to create their own masterpieces.

While the immersive characteristics mean the Museum of Ice Cream oozes with Instagrammable opportunities, don’t split until you’ve gotten the inside scoop, as guests will also be treated to five unique ice cream delights as they are guided through the experience by Museum of Ice Cream performers.

Before you scoop up tickets, check out the museum’s two key experiences: The Day Experience ($39 admission) is perfect for all ages and includes five treats. The Night at the Museum ($49 admission) is an evening experience recommended for visitors ages 16 and older — and includes a spiked treat for those 21 and up.

“After the challenges of the past two years,” says MOIC co-founder Manish Vora, “it is truly a blessing for us to be able to bring the first new attraction to Austin and the first new Museum of Ice Cream in nearly two years to the city.”

Take a ride on a life-size animal cookie in the Carnival Room.

Courtesy of Museum of Ice Cream
Take a ride on a life-size animal cookie in the Carnival Room.
Lick Honest Ice Creams/Instagram

Artisan ice cream shop scoops up another prime San Antonio location


An artisanal ice cream shop is scooping up more territory in the Alamo City. Lick Honest Ice Creams will open its third San Antonio location at The Rim just in time for summer.

Located at 17635 La Cantera Pkwy., the new scoop shop, scheduled to open in May, is Lick’s third San Antonio location. The Rim shop will be housed in a newly constructed standalone building on the Lynd Peninsula, the recently converted roundabout in the center of the property.

While the new location has been in the works since mid-2019, Lick hit a patch of rocky road courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic, which slowed the opening of the 729-square-foot shop. Lick did manage to open its long-awaited Hemisfair location last June, albeit six months after its scheduled opening. Lick’s other San Antonio location, at the Pearl, opened in 2014.

Lick at The Rim will feature the artisanal ice creams that fans know — unique faves like goat cheese, thyme, and honey; and roasted beets and fresh mint, as well as seasonal flavors like cream cheese kolache (!) and tequila lime pie — all naturally crafted without artificial colors or flavors, high-fructose corn syrup, or preservatives.

“We absolutely love San Antonio, its people, and being a part of the community,” says co-owner Anthony Sobotik, who, along with Chad Palmatier, launched the ice-cream brand in Austin in 2011. “It’s such a treat to join a lineup of amazing spots at The Rim and to share honest ice creams with another area of this fantastic city. With its new lawn and gathering space on the Lynd Peninsula, this location provides an exciting opportunity to engage with our customers and to be a part of this fresh new phase of The Rim. We look forward to scooping for y’all soon.”

Lick’s new location will follow the COVID-19 safety protocols the company enacted in March 2020, with federal, state, and local guidelines being enforced so Lick can protect its employees and customers.

The opening of the new shop marks Lick’s sixth location. And though Lick confirms the company doesn’t currently have plans to open any more shops in the San Antonio metro area, the owners say they are considering adding more locations in Austin and that 2021 will begin Lick’s expansion into the Houston market.

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San Antonio suburb among the richest places in Texas for 2023, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio suburb cashes in among the richest places in Texas for 2023. Alamo Heights has been renamed the third richest place in Texas for 2023 in a recent study.

2. San Antonio home sales slowed in December 2022, report finds. San Antonio sold 36,477 homes all year, a 10 percent decrease from 2021.

3. Here are the top 5 things to do in San Antonio this weekend. Nina Simone, Pink Floyd, the Beatles and more music-centered events made our roundup of the best things to do in Alamo City this weekend.

4. San Antonio Home & Garden Show returns with HGTV star. Ati Williams will headline the San Antonio Spring Home & Garden Show, which takes place February 24-26.

5. H-E-B opens first location in growing San Antonio suburb. The state-of-the-art facility offers 110,000 square feet of floor space, providing everything from cat food to charcuterie.

Popular Pearl brunch spot remixes with new weekend DJ nights


Though Full Goods Diner has barely been open for half a year, it has already become a San Antonio staple for working weekday lunches and lingering Sunday Fundays. Now the Pearl eatery is looking to be a hot spot after dark.

Via release, the popular local haunt just announced a new limited-time music series, Full Goods at Night. Starting on February 2, Full Goods Diner will open select evenings throughout the month.

The Full Goods at Night series will feature popular local San Antonio DJs, including El West Side Sound, Hector Gallego, DJ Plata, Steven Lee Moya, and Cami Gee. Guests can enjoy live sets while indulging in a specially curated food and drink offerings.

The menu will include some of Full Goods Diner's best—selling items, such as French toast sticks, barbacoa waffle fries, and jumbo cheesy tots. Libations like the Attaboy Negroni, Royal Bermuda Daiquiri, Pink G&T, and more will fuel the festivities.

In addition to enjoying moonlight brunch, guests can relish some prime people-watching. And, of course, the restaurant is just a hop from other nightlife destinations like Pink Hill, 3 Star Bar, and Summer Camp Bar, making it the perfect party starter.

The series runs every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from February 2-25, 6-10 pm. The complete DJ schedule is listed below.

February 2 — El West Side Sound·
February 3 — Hector Gallego
February 4— DJ Plata
February 9 — El West Side Sound
February 10 — Steven Lee Moya
February 11 — Cami Gee
February 16 — El West Side Sound
February 17 — Steven Lee Moya
February 18 — Hector Gallego
February 23 — El West Side Sound
February 24— Steven Lee Moya
February 25 — DJ Plata

4 San Antonio culinary pioneers win $21K from the Texas Food & Wine Alliance


Texas’ skyrocketing culinary scene is about to get a huge boost. The Texas Food & Wine Alliance’s grant program has awarded $107,500 to 19 culinary innovators around the state. This marks the Alliance’s 11th year providing funding to support culinary projects contributing to local communities.

The award winners were announced in a ceremony at Austin's Holdsworth Center on January 21. A private panel of distinguished culinary experts chose the winners out of 40 grant applications this year. Nine winners hail from Austin, three from Dallas-Fort Worth, three from Houston, and four from San Antonio. The awards range from $1,500 to $10,000, with a special $25,000 grant investment from Austin favorite Tito’s Handmade Vodka in honor of the company’s 25th anniversary. Grant funding will support chefs, farms, and culinary education groups, among others.

Out of the four San Antonio area winners, Talking Tree Farm received the most from the grant program, $6,250 to purchase shipping containers for storage and to buy a solar-powered cold room for their harvests. John Marshall High School’s culinary arts program will use their $5,000 grant to establish a morning café. Agricultural project Habitable Spaces and pasture-raised chicken farm Cielito Lindo Farm also won $5,000 each to purchase equipment or build infrastructure to further their endeavors in the culinary space.

Austin-area winners received the most funding from the grant program, totalling $53,750, while San Antonio winners received $21,250 in total. Dallas/Fort Worth winners were awarded $19,750, and the three Houston recipients won $12,750. All of the 2022 winners reflect just how diverse the state's trailblazing culinary scene continues to expand.

“All of this year’s funded projects will further enrich the state through innovation and giveback,” said Erika White, executive director of the Alliance. “We’re extremely grateful to each of the Texas communities, our sponsors and their support in allowing us to reward these mold-breaking projects.”

In Austin, organic farm Trosi Farms was awarded the most funding ($10,000), which will help construct a germination shed for more stable plant start production. Locavore pioneer Boggy Creek Farm won $7,500 in grants to provide ADA-compliant accessibility to their new climate-controlled Tomato House, while Texas’ first organic feed mill, Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill & Farm, received $6,250 to help purchase a building to be used as a store for the local community.

The six other Austin area grant recipients, each winning $5,000, include Vista Farms at Vista Brewing, Jamaican family business Tierra Todun ATX, coffee roasters Rising Tide Roast Collaborative, culinary educator Chef Pascal Simon from Bake Austin, East Austin food truck Community Vegan, and Latinx pastry project Comadre Panaderia (who also just earned a James Beard nomination). All winners will be able to use their grants to improve efficiency and expand their businesses, or in Chef Pascal's case, further research and development for her upcoming cookbook for Gen-Z young adults.

After starting the program in Austin, grant co-chair and TFWA past president Cathy Cochran-Lewis says it was the Alliance’s dream to expand the grant statewide.

“We’re so humbled and thrilled to now not only support worthwhile projects across Texas but also to give more than a half million dollars in funding over the last decade to help dreams come true,” she says. “This is a tribute to the culinary talent and the community mindset we are lucky to have in our state.”

The winners in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas include:

For this year's Honorable Mention, the Alliance chose San Antonio eatery Tacos Cucuy, who will soon open a brick-and-mortar space with an expanded menu. Tacos Cucuy are currently looking for support to develop a Tex-Mex charcuterie program called La Cura Carnes Especiales.

More information about the 2022 grants and its recipients can be found on texasfoodandwinealliance.org.