Consider this an ode to ice cream.
In Santa Fe, you’ll find it on a stick, in a cup, by the cone, transformed into a shake and topped with a churro, served alongside bagels and burgers and bonbons, and sold on the city’s nicest white cloth tables and out the window of a food truck.
This, too, is an ode to ice cream’s cousins: the impossibly silky gelatos, the bright bite of fruity sorbets, the icy swirls of frozen yogurt, the rainbow array of paletas. For a town the size of Santa Fe, we sure know how to satisfy that summer sweet tooth.
This is not an exhaustive ice cream roundup so much as it’s a celebration of the vast variety available — my research turned up dozens of options around town, more if you count those ever-reliable chain options.
Besides, we all know the “best” summertime treat doesn’t have to do with the fat content or the ingredient sourcing or even the flavor. It’s about swapping spoonfuls on a first date, or watching a kid’s face light up over a supersized sundae, or letting a particular flavor stir up your own fond childhood nostalgia. And even when the heat feels like a distant memory, these places can help rekindle a little bit of summer magic all year long.
La Lecheria (101 W. Marcy St.) is on many a Santa Fe tourist’s itinerary for its green chile variety, but the ever-rotating, seasonally influenced selection of ice creams and sorbets rewards locals who stop by regularly, too. You can even get a flight of four mini scoops to sample a mix of inventive and traditional flavors.
But you can also grab some Häagen- Dazs at Santa Fe Espresso Co. (56 E. San Francisco St.), ice cream bars at JW Windsors (145 Lincoln Ave.) and a number of other downtown destinations.
Then, of course, there’s the fresh-made ice cream at Shake Foundation (631 Cerrillos Road), which is available by the cup, cone, pint or in the signature Adobe Mud Shakes. You can get a root beer float, a blanco y negro cream or a sundae, too.
Nearby at the Santa Fe Farmers Market (1607 Paseo de Peralta), pick up some Taos Ice Cream, or head out to Sweet Santa Fe (in the Fashion Outlets of Santa Fe) to pair it with a truffle or two.
Speaking of chocolate makers, you can also find ice cream at Kakawa (1050 Paseo de Peralta, 1300 Rufina Circle #A4) and Chocolate En La Plaza (70 E. San Francisco St.)
And for something truly different, head to the can’t-miss-it turquoise Freezie Fresh food truck (2860 Cerrillos Road), where the ice cream is flattened on a frozen pan and scraped into delicate rosettes. The rolled ice cream comes in varieties like honey lavender, salted caramel with red chile, piñon coffee and more traditional flavors.
For paletas, it’s hard to beat Oasis (which has a paleteria at 4641 Airport Road and an expanded ice cream shop inside the Design Center at 418 Cerrillos Road). Browse the beautiful assortment of paleta flavors and add toppings if you wish, or at the Design Center location go for a hugely indulgent (and totally Instagrammable) churro-topped shake. You can also find paletas at stops including Refresqueria Las Delicias (4350 Airport Road #9) and the recently opened Paleta Bar (2442 Cerrillos Road).
If you’re in the mood for gelato — a denser but lower-fat treat than ice cream — head to Ecco Gelato (128 E. Marcy St.) for a rotating array of gelato and sorbet options, such as chocolate peanut butter, chocolate hazelnut, pistachio, stracciatella and raspberry lime sorbet.
Or stop by Henry & The Fish (217 W. San Francisco St.), which serves gelato made by Van Rixel Bros. in Albuquerque.
There’s also the froyo option — and Frogurt in Rodeo Plaza (2801 Rodeo Road) has you covered with regular and no-sugar added options, and flavors like cake batter and mango sorbet.
And because this is Santa Fe, it’s worth pointing out many of the city’s nicest restaurants offer house-made ice creams, gelatos and sorbets. At Sassella (225 Johnson St.), for example, the most recent menu allows you to choose three to try from among chocolate gelato, vanilla gelato, pistachio gelato, coconut sorbetto, mango sorbetto and raspberry sorbetto. The Compound (635 Canyon Road) offers a daily selection of sorbets and ice creams by the scoop, with a suggested moscato pairing. La Casa Sena (125 E. Palace Ave.) serves a sorbet trio of basil, mango and lemon thyme.
Finally, I’ll loop you in on my best ice cream discovery: In addition to its regular and seasonal dessert offerings, farm-to-table restaurant Arable (in Eldorado’s Agora complex at 7 Avenida Vista Grande) sells pints of organic, in-house ice creams to go. The small-batch creations are by turns indulgent, playful and creative: I’ve had s’mores and cupcake flavors, as well as extra virgin olive oil and a life-changing blue cheese and balsamic vinegar. I’m not ashamed to admit we check the online menu (arablesantafe.com) daily to see what new flavors are on offer — because some only stick around for a day or two.
Whether you’re trying a new spot or revisiting a favorite destination, I hope you’ll find somewhere to stop for a sweet treat or two. It’s a good summer to go make some memories.