Gallery: Raspados, Diablitos, Nieves y Más: Shaved Ice Roundup

Diablito, Cart under the 7 train, 90th Street and Roosevelt Avenue
Diablito, Cart under the 7 train, 90th Street and Roosevelt Avenue

Not your typical raspado, diablitos are doused with tamarind syrup and a spicy liquid chile mixture, then topped with a squirt of chamoy—a sour, salty, spicy and sweet fruit-based salsa. Small raspado, $1.00.

Raspado Cart: Corner of Roosevelt and Elmurst Avenues (map)

Maracuya Raspado from El Bohio Grocery
Maracuya Raspado from El Bohio Grocery

There is always a line down the block at this grocery with a raspado window. This was a passionfruit syrup topped with condensed milk. I never understood the line, but now I do. Sometimes raspados quickly become a block of ice floating in syrup, and difficult to eat. The ice here was expertly shaved and remained flaky and crunchy, absorbing the flavor of the syrup. Small raspado, $1.00.

El Bohio Grocery: Roosevelt and 99th Street (map)

The Raspado Lady
The Raspado Lady

The raspado lady on the corner of Roosevelt and 80th Street has her ice shaving down to a science. She shaves the ice and creates a pyramid with a funnel so quickly, it's amazing. And she doesn't skimp on the syrup, either. A small raspado is $1.00.

Raspado Lady: 80-02 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights (map)

Mango and Orange Raspado from the Raspado Lady
Mango and Orange Raspado from the Raspado Lady
Nieve Mexicana at Viva Puebla
Nieve Mexicana at Viva Puebla

In front of the restaurant Viva Puebla is an outdoor counter where they sell snacks such as chopped fruit, elotes, chicharron preparado, and homemade nieves. These Mexican ices are somewhere between Italian ice and sorbet— creamier and smoother than the former, but icier than the latter. The process is long, and done by hand: paddling a metal bucket full of the liquid fruit base within a larger bucket filled with ice and salt until it reaches the perfect consistency. At Viva Puebla they only have one bucket, so they make the flavors one at a time.

Viva Puebla: 89-16 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights (map); 718-947-2302

Nieves de Sandia y Limon from Viva Puebla
Nieves de Sandia y Limon from Viva Puebla

The sandia was like taking a sweet icy bite out of a watermelon, and the limon, with flecks of lime zest, was perfect slushy limeade. Cold, tart, and refreshing.

Nieve de Guayaba from Viva Puebla
Nieve de Guayaba from Viva Puebla

Sweet but not too sweet, with a fresh guava flavor. Creamy and smooth, except for the occasional mouthful of seeds. I appreciated the seeds, though—it proved that the nieve was homemade using the whole fruit. Small cup, $2.00.

Nance Paleta from Paleteria Fernandez, Cholula Bakery
Nance Paleta from Paleteria Fernandez, Cholula Bakery

Paleteria Fernandez is located in Port Chester, New York; I found the pops at Cholula Bakery on Roosevelt Avenue. Nance is a small yellow fruit, sometimes called a yellow cherry, which grows in Central Mexico and continues southward. It's an acquired taste, strong and musky. The paleta was full of chunks of the fruit, as well as a few inedible stems. Although the actual fruit is sour, the paleta was sweet and creamy with a strong aftertaste.

Cholula Bakery: 88-06 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights (map); (718) 533-1171

Arroz Con Leche Paleta from Paleteria Fernandez found at Cholula Bakery
Arroz Con Leche Paleta from Paleteria Fernandez found at Cholula Bakery

I love rice pudding, I love arroz con leche, so what could be bad about a frozen version? Well, the creamy, milky, Mexican cinnamon-tinged ice pop is good, but if you don't like chewy pieces of cooked rice in frozen form, it might not be the pop for you. Flavor wise, it's delicious, but the texture might be a turn-off for some.