As a native Northwesterner and sworn enemy of summer’s high temperatures, I make it my mission to find the quickest way to cool down when that giant orb in the sky produces too much heat.
My solution: Frosty treats.
Lucky us, new destinations in and around Tacoma also are great places to bring kids.
There’s a newly opened drink cafe in East Tacoma serving Mexican shaved ice, called raspados.
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The new gelateria in the Proctor neighborhood serves a famous, frosty Italian drink with a hard-to-spell name, affogato, that’s a merge of two things I love.
With the opening of Aloha Poke in Fircrest, we now have a new destination for shaved-ice desserts.
I’m also recommending frosty treats you’ve probably never heard of: halo-halo and patbingsu.
Where: Raspados La Pasadita, 6332 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253-212-9768.
This adorable cafe in a mini strip-mall opened in May with a menu of Mexican snacks (think: tostilocos and esquites) and about 20 raspados, which are frosty shaved-ice drinks in broad flavors, including mango, lime, lemon, guava, peach, plum, pineapple and coconut.
For those who like their sweet, frosty drinks on the spicy side, try the Diablito, a shaved-ice concoction flavored with chamoy, a popular spicy-sour-sweet Mexican condiment.
One sip of the icy cold drink pulled a sweet-and-sour flavor bonanza with lingering spice. That sour-sweet note was reinforced with chunky tamarind candy plopped on top. Here’s something fun: It’s served with a plastic straw with an edible wrap-around of Mexican tamarind candy ($5.99).
Don’t worry, there are non-spicy, fruity versions that would appeal to kids.
Where: Alegre Bakery and Gelato, 3820 N. 27th St., Tacoma; facebook.com/alegrebng.
This Italian frosty treat combines two things that are easy to love: Coffee and gelato. At newly opened Alegre Bakery and Gelato, the espresso comes from beans roasted by Caffe Vita, and the gelato is made on site by co-owners Taraya and Ali Ataman, who opened their cafe in June. The dish is served as a do-it-yourself special and comes with any flavor of gelato.
I ordered mine with whiskey cream gelato, which lent boozy, creamy sweetness to the ultra-strong espresso. The gelato was served flanked by a frothy shot of espresso. Just pour the shot over the gelato and watch as a creamy lava is created ($5.49).
Kid-friendly flavors abound at the gelateria, which also has fresh-baked pastries.
SNOWFLAKE SHAVED ICE
Where: Aloha Poke and Shaved Ice, 2013 Mildred St. W., Fircrest; 253-565-2393; facebook.com/alohapokeshavedice.
The shaved ice at newly opened Aloha Poke and Shaved Ice was so finely textured, it looked like miniaturized straw and came with a fluffier-than-you-can-imagine texture. They call it “snowflake ice” here, and it comes in six flavors, including red bean, green tea, chocolate and strawberry. The restaurant, which opened in April, has a dual specialty in poke bowls and the Hawaiian-style shaved ice.
The large, mango shaved ice was meant for sharing. At the base was a mound of fluffy ice saturated in a sweet-and-creamy mango syrup with slippery cubes of fresh mango tumbled on top. Gelatinous orbs of boba pearls popped with more juicy mango flavor. Chewy mochi added a bit of texture. Garnished with cookies ($6.99 cup/$9.99 bowl).
DIPPED FROZEN CHEESECAKE BAR
Where: Tacoma Cheesecake Kiosk at South Hill Mall (outside the food court) from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays; tacomacheesecake.com.
And here: Freezer case at Parkland QFC, Stadium Thriftway.
What’s better than cheesecake? The kind that’s dunked in chocolate and served as a frozen dessert bar. That’s the creation of Danelle Bentley, who owns Tacoma Cheesecake. The company specializes in full-sized cheesecakes as well.
Chocolate-dipped flavors include strawberry cheesecake, lemon-blueberry, raspberry and peanut butter.
I like the company’s simple version with a sugary layer of graham cracker crumbs wedged between the thick coating of dark chocolate and fluffy, creamy cheesecake. Even frozen, it has a light, airy texture ($3.99).
Where: Maresol Restaurant, 10505 Bridgeport Way SW, Lakewood; 253-581-7248.
I’ve been looking for a replacement for my favorite halo-halo since Mother Lily’s Kusina in Lakewood closed. Lucky me, I found the Filipino shaved-ice dessert at Maresol.
It’s an off-menu order, but they always have it available at the Lakewood turo-turo restaurant, which offers a steam table of Filipino favorites.
Halo-halo translates to “mix-mix,” which is exactly what you want to do with the shaved-ice dessert loaded with goodies. Sunk deep into the plastic cup was a sweet sauce swirling around fresh coconut, chewy jelly candies and sweetened beans. Use a spoon to pull it all up into the milk-saturated shaved ice. Plopped on top was a big orb of bright purple ice cream. It’s sweet and creamy and you’d never know it was made from taro, except for the vibrant color ($6).
GREEN TEA PATBINGSU
Where: Coffee Kitchen, 9115 South Tacoma Way, Lakewood; 253-588-4191.
Like halo-halo, patbingsu is a shaved-ice dessert that offers ballast in the form of beans and a frosty, sweet finish. The Korean dessert is served with sweetened red beans nestled on top of a fluffy cloud of shaved ice topped with sweetened milk. Order yours with green tea ice cream at Coffee Kitchen, a dessert-and-sandwich cafe in Lakewood.
A scoop of green tea ice cream, which tasted more of sugar than tea, topped the ice. It also came with something the plain patbingsu doesn’t: A big boost of fresh fruit that included sliced kiwi, bananas, strawberries and blueberries.
The smaller version was plenty for two. A supersized version is only for three or more ($8.95 regular/$16 large).