The Guilty Pleasure: Habanero Lime Soft-Serve Ice Cream Where To Get It: Certain QuikTrip locations Valleywide The Price: $2.39 and up What It Really Costs: "You're eating what?!"
I feel weird writing about convenience store food. For the most part, convenience stores' "fresh" items are of questionable provenance, sitting in the case (or on that roller grill thing) for God knows how long. Anything edible is an impulse purchase, a high-speed nosh to hork down while waiting for the gas tank to fill.
Then there's QuikTrip.
It's easily my favorite convenience store. Locations are consistently clean, well-lit, and well-maintained. More than a few friends have confessed that they like the spicy chicken taquitos from the roller grill. I'll admit, they're not bad. They just barely miss the guilty pleasure threshold, but they're decent enough that I don't experience the mix of indigestion and shame that other stores' roller grill items bring.
A couple of years ago, QT rolled out a next-generation store design. They expanded many of their offerings, including a jaw-dropping panoply of frozen drink machines. They also added a specialty drink bar with espresso, smoothies, and soft-serve ice cream.
That last one, soft-serve ice cream, is especially of note. I've seen more than a few places (Dairy Queen and McDonald's, I'm looking at you) that let you mix candy into your ice cream. But for some reason, hardly anyone has realized that you can use beverage syrups, more often seen in coffee bars, as a quick way to flavor ice cream.
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Suffice it to say, QuikTrip has figured this out. As a result, it has several ice cream flavors available despite just one soft serve spigot. Most are fairly predictable flavors like chocolate, caramel, and strawberry. Then someone went off the deep end and added habanero-lime syrup to the mix.
Habanero lime ice cream? Yes, I know, it's way out in left field. Trust me, this stuff rocks. But there's a small catch: You have to order it with extra flavor syrup. If you're feeling timid about it, you can go with the standard syrup amount. The flavors are more subdued this way; lime adds subtle tang, and the habanero doesn't itself known until the very end of the cup, when it provides a gentle afterglow.
Extra syrup brings the lime level almost into key lime pie territory, and turns up the heat to a sultry smolder that's noticeable after every bite. Another mouthful of cool ice cream quenches the fire, only for the heat to return shortly after. The alternating hot-and-cold is a delightful sensation that's definitely worth experiencing. If you love lime, and you like a little heat now and then, seek out the newer QuikTrip stores to try this oddball sweet treat.