Food News

Chill Out at These 6 Great Spots for Shave Ice

Happy Honu serves classic, colorful Hawaiian shave ice with a side of aloha.
Happy Honu serves classic, colorful Hawaiian shave ice with a side of aloha. Allison Young

Not to be confused with commonplace snow cones made of ground-up ice, shave ice is infinitely finer, fluffier, and way more like the texture of real snow.

Instead of the syrup just sinking to the bottom, these mountains of soft, layered ice keep the flavors suspended for sweetness in every bite. Some come with extra drizzles and dashes for added taste, texture, and zing.

So grab a spoon and get ready to sample summer vacation in a cup at these six Phoenix shave ice hot spots.

click to enlarge Order Lylo’s Hawaiian Piña for the perfect, shareable poolside dessert. - ALLISON YOUNG
Order Lylo’s Hawaiian Piña for the perfect, shareable poolside dessert.
Allison Young

Lylo Swim Club

400 West Camelback Road
480-536-8899
riseuptownhotel.com/phoenix_restaurants/lylo
Lylo's delicious take on shave ice is both over the top and restrained all at the same time. Made of pineapple shave ice topped with caramelized pineapple chunks, condensed milk, house-made Chamoy, togarashi, and Tajín, the flavor is all Goldilocks: a little bit fruity, spicy, sweet, creamy, and just the right amount of tropical and refreshing.

But the presentation is all drama. Served in a hollowed-out pineapple over a bucket of ice, the precarious mounds of ice are doused in color and creativity. This tropical treat is garnished with a pretty plumeria flower for an outrageous display that delivers Hawaiian charm and Champagne appeal.

click to enlarge Mahalo Made’s massive, billowy bowls are made to share. - ALLISON YOUNG
Mahalo Made’s massive, billowy bowls are made to share.
Allison Young

Mahalo Made

1215 East Missouri Avenue
www.instagram.com/mahalomadeit/
At first glance, Mahalo Made looks simple. The slice of a shop at The Frederick on Missouri is minimalist in décor with a menu to match, featuring just five flavors: guava, strawberry, mango, mixed berry, and a rotating feature. But the ingredients and intention that go into every hand-crafted bowl are anything but.

At the dessert shop, which is owned and operated by radio personality Lastassia Eidson, also known as Lady La, syrups are handcrafted using organic fresh fruit and cane sugar. Blocks of ice are shaved into cotton candy-like streams and then artistically layered with syrups and condensed milk for a Japan-meets-Hawaii spin. The finished treats are served in compostable bowls and garnished with fresh fruit.

When in doubt, go for the special, which features combos like mango with Chamoy, Tajín, and fresh lime, or Coca-Cola with sweet cream.

click to enlarge Happy Honu serves classic, colorful Hawaiian shave ice with a side of aloha. - ALLISON YOUNG
Happy Honu serves classic, colorful Hawaiian shave ice with a side of aloha.
Allison Young

Happy Honu

Food Trailer
602-432-3059
www.facebook.com/HappyHonuShaveIce/
The island vibes of Happy Honu Shave Ice come courtesy of owner Desmond Martin, who grew up in Haleiwa where shave ice was always an after-beach treat.

He and his wife Laura Martin operate the business, a popular fixture at the Arrowhead Saturday farmers market. But the process of making the dessert starts way before the market, with a homemade cylindrical block of ice that takes 12 hours to form. From there, customers choose a flavor and a topping. There are more than 30 options as well as playful combos like Incredible Hulk and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. As for the topping, the snow cap is the way to go.

For even more flavors, opt to stuff the snowball with mini mochi balls or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The result is a mammoth mound of fluffy snow as cloudlike as it is colorful.

click to enlarge KamanaWana Hawaiian Treats has been going strong for 10 years. - ALLISON YOUNG
KamanaWana Hawaiian Treats has been going strong for 10 years.
Allison Young

Kamana'Wana Hawaiian Treats

13825 North 19th Avenue
602-819-3050
kamanawana.com
The thing to order at Kamana'Wana is the Piccadilly, a downright dizzying collision of sweet and sour that includes – get ready for it – dill pickle chunks.

Now, before you scoff at the idea of pickles in dessert, hear us out. The creative concoction begins with a block of ice that's spun and sculpted into a hefty helping. Next on goes your favorite syrup. We've found black cherry pairs surprisingly well with pickles. Finally, diced dill pickles are peppered throughout for a motley mix that may seem contradictory at first, but a few bites in and the amalgamation of sweet, salty, and sour totally makes sense.

Of course, you can always skip the pickles and add vanilla ice cream, pineapple whip, mochi bits, or gummy bears instead.

click to enlarge Bahama Buck’s serves sunny vibes and signature snos, like this Oreo blizzard. - ALLISON YOUNG
Bahama Buck’s serves sunny vibes and signature snos, like this Oreo blizzard.
Allison Young

Bahama Buck's Shaved Ice Co.

Multiple Locations
bahamabucks.com
Bahama Buck's is all about the flavors. With over 100 to choose from, this sweet shop turns light and airy shave ice into tropical, fruity, candied, or dessert-themed concoctions.Flavors range from pink bubblegum and gummy bears to cherry coke and toasted coconut.

That said, the signature snos are where it's at. The two most popular are Bomb Pop, a tri-colored triumph of red, white, and blue topped with a mini popsicle, and the Oreo Cookie Sno, a frozen cookie-flavored treat that's finished with a drizzle of Oreo cream and an oversized cookie garnish. Bonus: They also have a Pup Sno for furry friends.

click to enlarge At Water Connection you can choose up to three flavors in one cup. - ALLISON YOUNG
At Water Connection you can choose up to three flavors in one cup.
Allison Young

Water Connection

3929 East Camelback Road
602-553-8419
waterconnectionaz.com/shaved-ice
At Water Connection, it's all about the quality of the ice. According to the company, the water goes through a 10-step filtration process, plus an ultraviolet light and ozone treatment to remove any impurities. This ice tastes so clean, no other cubes compare. You can seriously taste the difference.

The syrups are made with real cane sugar and purified water, making up an assortment of build-your-own flavors, from pineapple and pina colada to vanilla and watermelon. Add the creamy topping for a luscious finish or pucker up with the sour spray instead.

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Allison Young has written about food, nutrition, and travel for Sunset, Women’s Health, Oxygen, Clean Eating, Mindbodygreen, and Prevention. Her local jam is food writing, where she happily eats her way across the Valley to discover the best hidden gems, hole-in-the-walls, pizza joints, and the latest Phoenix food trends. She also loves to pick Valley chef’s brains for their favorite food finds. On her website, TheGlitterList.com, she posts one thing she’s looking forward to each day, from food to books and podcasts.
Contact: Allison Young