The original sno-ball shop, Hansen's is now owned and run by Ashley Hansen, the granddaughter of founders Ernest and Mary Hansen. For the uninitiated, a sno-ball is similar to a sno cone, but many, many times more delicious. At Hansen's, ice is ground into light, fluffy "snow" on the same machine that Ernest built 73 years ago. The flavored syrups are still made from scratch every morning, mixed in the original glass bottles.
The classic flavor of Sno-Bliz is Cream of Nectar, which can only be described as tasting like pink clouds. But the fancy flavors offer a modern spin on the classic treat. Try the Satsuma (a tart citrus fruit that grows in Louisiana), the Cream of Almond, or my personal favorite, the Chocolate Mint ($1.50 for the smallest size, $2 if you spring for the "fancy flavors").
The line at Hansen's can snake around the block on a hot summer afternoon, but the employees take their time: for them, the Hansen's motto, "There are no shortcuts to quality," is less a slogan than a way of life.
Plum Street Snoballs
Another of the oldest sno-ball stands in the city, Plum Street Snoballs has been dishing out ice drenched in sweetness from their tiny storefront in the Riverbend neighborhood since 1945. Their ice isn't quite as fine as Hansen's, but their flavors are more varied. My go-to is Raspberry mixed with Mocha ($2 for a small pail). That said, you really can't go wrong here with anything from the classic Strawberry to more adventurous choices, like Red Velvet or King Cake.
Gelato from Angelo Brocato's
Walking into Angelo Brocato's Italian Ice Cream Parlor is like being transported to Little Italy. The Old World ambiance is fitting for a bakery and ice cream shop that was founded by a Sicilian immigrant in 1905. Today, Brocato's serves up rich gelato in classic flavors, alongside dozens of Italian pastries and cookies. I went for the Stracciatella ($2.45), a more sophisticated cousin of chocolate chip.
Gelato from Sucre
Imagine that the game Candyland existed in real life. This should give you a pretty accurate idea of what it feels like to walk into Sucre, a wonderland of sweets that features everything from handmade truffles to elaborate cupcakes and pastries to decadent hot chocolate. In the muggy summer months, though, it's the gelato case that gets most of the love. The tart Raspberry sorbet and sno-ball-inspired Nectar come together for a refreshing treat that would not be out of place in the land of the sugarplums ($3.75 for a small).
La Divina Gelateria
Located only two doors down from Sucre on Magazine Street, La Divina Gelateria easily gives the sweet shop a run for its money in the gelato department. Pictured here are a light, not-too-sweet mango sorbet and a rich, not-too-tangy chocolate raspberry ($3.85). The shop also offers salads and paninis, so really, there's no reason to ever leave this block.
Ice Cream Sampler at Creole Creamery
Every town should have a version of Creole Creamery: a quirky ice cream parlor that smells like freshly baked waffle cones and dishes up a constantly changing menu of creative, locally inspired flavors. The only problem with this kind of shop is the crushing pressure of trying to commit to a single flavor. Thank goodness, Creole Creamery frees you from this prospect by offering samplers of 4 or 6 mini-scoops. Clockwise from the top, I chose Cucumber Sorbet, Nutella Banana Toffee, Black and Gold Crunch (a Saints-inspired mix of cookies and chicory ice cream), and Cherry-Vanilla Malt ($4). None of them let me down.
Creole Creamery Flavors
The flavor board at Creole Creamery. Who could possibly choose just one?
Popsicles at Meltdown Pops
The gourmet popsicle trend has not missed New Orleans. Tucked amongst schlocky tourist shops in the French Quarter, this hole-in-the-wall serves up lovingly made popsicles that take advantage of fresh, seasonal, locally sourced ingredients.
Muscadine Ginger Pop at Meltdown
On my most recent visit, I tried out the Muscadine Ginger ($3). The texture was a little grainy for my taste, but the ginger flavor was evident without being overwhelming. The Vietnamese Iced Coffee flavor also makes for a refreshing summer treat.