A new storefront in north Phoenix is serving raspados, Mexican cups of shaved ice, fruit, and other sweet and spicy additions. Owner Alejandra Matias, a young woman who also works as an accountant across nearby East Hatcher Street, says her raspados, a snack widely popular in Mexico, have a Mexico City bent.
Entering the shop – open just four months, still bereft of permanent signage – you see images of her raspados emblazoned behind a counter that spans a long, narrowroom. The pictured cups burst with colors, often layered, and teeter with coconut and mango strips, which fan out from clear plastic brims like flower petals.
The depicted creations are the shop’s preselected raspados. You can also customize your own.
Given the rampant possibilities, that may feel daunting. But any trepidation you have should diminish upon meeting Cruz Matias, Alejandra’s father, who bustles behind the counter with her mother, Berta Ortega.
Never before have I seen free samples so freely given.
Cruz poured juice after juice (tamarind was a highlight) and a litany of purees (mango was creamy and lush) to taste. He spooned fruit after fruit into tiny plastic cups for sampling – soursop, Mexican plum, and guava – all slicked in perfumed syrups. He passed coconut dusted with Tajin, and, later, the body of a raspado that I almost ordered but didn’t. Given the tutorial that can unfold as you decide what you want, this is a surefire spot for a brief intro to raspados (should you need one).
Alejandra’s family comes from Mexico City. The Mexico City bent, she says, comes from serving raspados that are more plant-based. Other facets that set Raspados Solaris apart are, Alejandra says, that she offers unusual selections. Those include a banana raspado with a deceptive beige base that taps into banana in a shockingly deep way.
“We also cut fruit every day, and by the hour sometime,” Alejandra says.
Raspados Solaris also serves ice cream and a few savory dishes. You’ll see mint chocolate chip and esquites, Mexican cheese-flavored chips and candies. Raspados, though, are the main event. They set you back roughly $4 to $8, depending on size and makeup.
The Magonada raspado contains mango sliced and puree, shaved ice, Tajin, lime juice, and Chamoy. Chamoy is a Mexican condiment made from a plum-like stone fruit and chiles. This raspado is sweet, tart on two or three levels, a smidgen hot, and icy from those tiny shaved chips of frozen H20. Bites of fresh mango lend more of the cool levity that makes a raspado what it is in the first place.
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The Chamoyada – one of Cruz’s favorites – is similar but with more of Tajin and chile prickling through. It also brings crunch from Japanese peanuts and Chamoy-spiked candy.
Many of the preselected raspados here are spicy. The spice brings a new dimension of refreshment, and recasts the sweet and tart spirits of the various fruits in new ways. But some of the best juices and purees here are snuffed out a little by the spice, like a wild and heady coconut puree. Hold the spice if you want to taste those huge fruit flavors fully.
Raspados Solaris. 9204 North Seventh Street #6; 480-648-5238.
Daily from noon to 8:30 p.m.