Category Archives: Frozen treats

Rita’s Italian Ice opens Monday with free ice for all

Just in time for the arrival of warmer weather, Wichita is getting a new frozen treat option: Italian ice.

Rita’s Italian Ice will open Monday at 2929 N. Rock Road, right next to Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and it’s inviting Wichita to enjoy a free regular-sized serving of Italian ice on both Monday and Tuesday. The shop will be open from noon to 10 p.m., which are its daily hours.

Mango is the most popular flavor at Rita's Italian Ice.

Mango is the most popular flavor at Rita’s Italian Ice.

Franchisee Jeff Miller, who along with his brother, Jay Miller, has all the Five Guys franchises in town, said that Italian ice is something most Wichitans probably aren’t familiar with.

“Italian ice is a new thing to the Midwest,” he said. “When people hear ice, everyone assumes it’s a Slushee or a Snow cone or shaved ice. But that doesn’t do justice to this product.”

Miller said Italian ice is so smooth, it has the texture of ice cream. The ice is infused with the flavors, and Rita’s has 65 different choices. They’ll have 12 available each day. He said his favorite is a dulce de leche that came out last year. The most popular is mango, and flavors such as banana, cheesecake, cherry and lime also will be available, as will be a few sugar-free options.

Rita’s also serves vanilla and chocolate frozen custard and other ice cream products. Miller said he’s hoping to eventually add Rita’s near all Wichita’s Five Guys.

For more information, call Rita’s at or check out the local Rita’s Facebook page.

Kona Ice a super fancy sno cone mobile

Mmmmm. Kona Ice.

I was at a gathering in Old Town last night when I saw an awesomely amazing, high-tech, sno cone mobile drive past.

We flagged it down, and the kind couple who runs it – Carmond and Mike Young — backed it up and let our group order up some of their shaved ice goodness.

Kona Ice, which my colleague Joe Stumpe recently wrote about in detail, is part of a franchise that the Youngs recently bought into. It’s decorated with a giant, thirsty penguin and has a unique feature: A row of self-serve flavor dispensers on the side of the truck that let customers color their own ice.

The truck tools around neighborhoods and sometimes parks at places such as swimming pools and churches.

Prices range from $2 for a small shaved ice up to $5 for the Cowabunga. I got a $3 regular flavored with banana, and it was fabulous.

The truck updates its location via its Facebook page. Today, it’s making a tour of local swimming pools.

For more information — or to book Kona Ice for a party — call 316-644-3933.

 

Food Network Magazine recognizes local ice cream shop

For the past several summers, Food Network Magazine has put out a “Fifty States” issue, which names the best of a certain dish in each of the 50 states.

Two summers ago, it was pizza, and Wichita Pizza Co’s taco pizza was named the best in Kansas. Last summer, the topic was sandwiches, and the banh mi at My Tho was the Kansas sandwich that made the list.

This summer, Food Network Magazine is listing the country’s best ice cream treats, and the issue on stands now names Paleteria La Reyna’s helado (Spanish for ice cream) the best in Kansas.

I love the ice cream there, which is creamier than standard ice cream. My favorite flavors are tequila (it really tastes like it), pine nut, pistachio and cookies and cream. My daughter loves the bubble gum flavor, which she chews on for hours.

I also love the rest of the menu at Paleteria La Reyna, which serves up some of the best tacos, tortas and chips and salsa in town.

For more information, visit the restaurant at 2925 N. Arkansas or call 316-831-9196.

Scoping out the Mega-QuikTrip

The new coffee bar at the new QuikTrip.

A friend used to call QuikTrips “the Disneyland of convenience stores.”  And that was YEARS AND YEARS before the actual Disneyland of convenience stores opened in January  at 625 S. Hillside.

I finally stopped into the new QT this morning to see what all the fuss was about, and WOW. The QuikTrip of the future is pretty amazing, and I didn’t really think QuikTrips could be improved upon.

The most impressive additions I saw included an entire wall dedicated to every flavor of iced tea an iced tea fan could dream up, from blueberry to mango. The number of colorful “freezoni” options, QT’s version of a slurpee, was staggering. That section of the store looked as though a frozen rainbow had exploded.

There’s also a new counter, staffed by an employee who can make specialty coffee drinks, fresh smoothies and ice-cream mixes. I didn’t see anyone taking advantage of that option this morning, but it’s tempting.

The store is huge, and you have to hunt a little to find what you’re looking for. The check out counter was set up in a straight line rather than an L-shape, which isn’t in improvement, in my opinion. I like the classic setup, where you can stand on either side of either cash register and feel like you’re closer to the front of the line.

The new store has all the fresh foods, both hot and cold, stocked in the other stores in town. Though alas, the Mega-QT STILL stocks only Miracle Whip, no mayo, in its grocery section. Why? There is no explanation I can accept.

If you’re out and bored and thirsty this weekend, I’d definitely recommend you make a stop at the new QT. It’s as close to Disneyland as we’re gonna get.

Wichita’s CherryBerry now open

The self-serve frozen yogurt boom continues with the opening of Wichita’s first CherryBerry, this one at 737 N. Maize Road. The shop, which is near the corner of Central and Maize, looks a lot like Orange Leaf on the inside, with mod furniture, a wall of yogurt dispensing levers and teeny tiny mosaic tile. Only CherryBerry has a pink/red/green color palette.

CherryBerry has 14 flavors and more than 50 toppings, and customers fill their bowls themselves from dispensers on the wall. The cost depends on the weight of the creation.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Squeezer’s Palace a bright spot in Riverside

I’ve gotten a lot of e-mail  over the past few weeks from new-found fans of Squeezer’s Palace, a colorful and whimsical new walk-up ice cream shop that opened a few weeks ago at 11th and Bitting, right across the street from the Riverside Perk.

The shop, opened by Kirk David, is a take-off on the Squeezer’s Palace that operated about three blocks away back in the 1970s. David’s version offers ice cream or yogurt and a variety of toppings, such as fruit, candy and granola. He also serves frozen bananas dipped in dark or light chocolate, with or without nuts, and a variety of fresh-made fruit smoothies.

David hopes to remain open through the winter, despite his original plans to close during December, January and February, and is considering adding coffee drinks and make-your-own s’mores to menu. He’s also working on a patio.

There was a little drama a few weeks ago about the fact that David was using the Squeezer’s Palace name, displeasing the original Squeezer’s Palace owner. He briefly considered changing the name but was urged by several people to go a head with it. He never heard from the displeased former owner and decided to keep to his original plan.

I drove past the building last week and loved the way it looks, covered in playful murals created by local artist Rick Regan.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 10 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays.

Chompers rejoice: Freddy’s adds chewin’ ice

Very few things make me happier than the soft, crushable ice pellets that some convenience stores and restaurants serve in their drinks. I could crunch, crunch, crunch that stuff all day. (One close friend has threatened to un-close friend me over the noisy habit.)

In my circles, it’s known as “Sonic ice” because Sonic is the place that so famously serves it. But you can get something similar at Quik Trip and at several other restaurants around town. Sonic, as you may know, sells it by the bag.

Now, Freddy’s Frozen Custard owner Scott Redler tells me that his chain is spending big money to add chewing ice to its list of offerings. Customers prefer it, he said, and each Freddy’s will spend between $12,000 and $14,000 adding new ice machines that produce the stuff. The Wichita Freddy’s have already made the switch, and other stores across the chain will soon follow.

Studies have been done showing what texture of ice makes customers most happy, Redler said, and even though it sounds strange, he’s a student of those studies. “It’s one of those things where we had to justify the expense,” he said. “We know our guests want it.”

(In other Freddy’s news, Redler told me that within the next 60 days, his company will begin construction on a new free-standing Joplin store to replace the one destroyed in the May 22 tornado.)

By the way, I also love love love the ice served in the drinks at Taco Pronto at 8385 W. 21st St. N. It’s shaved ice, almost sno-cone-ish in texture, and although it melts quickly and makes your cola a bit too watery, it’s pure chomping heaven.

Who else in town offers great chewing ice? Tell me in the comments section below.

An emotional Freddy’s morning in Joplin

Scott Redler, holding the check, and Freddy Simon, far right, traveled to the destroyed Freddy's Frozen Custard in Joplin on Monday to donate money and meet with survivors.

Since I’m a personally acquainted with the Joplin tornado, I’ve been curious how the Freddy’s Frozen Custard, which was destroyed in the storm, was getting along.

Yesterday, I heard from Scott Redler, who lives in Wichita and owns Freddy’s stores across the country, including the one in Joplin.

On Monday, he and Freddy’s namesake, Freddy Simon, traveled to Joplin to deliver to the Red Cross a check for $17,059, money collected from Freddy’s customers over the past several weeks. While there, Scott and Freddy congratulated two managers, who are credited with saving the lives of about 20 customers who were in the store when the tornado hit it.

They also met with several of those survivors, who shared tales of what happened in Freddy’s the night of May 22 and poured praise on the managers who helped them stay safe.

Scott says that Freddy’s definitely will rebuild in Joplin. The land the store sits on is rented, which is slowing the process down, but he says Joplin can expect to have its Freddy’s back within a year, if not less.

I thought I’d share a few of the e-mails that survivors  sent to Freddy’s, Keep reading if you’re interested. They’re pretty powerful.

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In search of sno cones

Flamingo Sno, open for business in the parking lot at Kay Wiggin's, 600 S. Tyler.

A reader named Ashley wrote to me recently bemoaning the fact that she couldn’t find any sno cone booths on the west side. She wondered if I knew of any.

Yesterday, on my way to another restaurant I’m writing about, I swung by the parking lot near Kellogg and Tyler that I thought usually had a sno cone booth in the summer. Indeed, there was Flamingo Sno, open for business. (The teenage employee inside seemed perplexed that I was photographing her trailer, and now I’m equally perplexed that my photograph turned out so crooked. Oh well.)

At any rate, Flamingo Sno is there, open daily from 1 to 9 p.m. until school starts.

My friend Suzanne is a big fan of sno cone booths, especially ones that sell Tiger Blood flavor (“It tastes like real tiger blood.”) She and her kids were big fans of the Heavenly Sno booth that usually set up near the Dillon’s at Douglas and Hillside. That one hasn’t appeared this year. Suzanne has, however, spotted a Heavenly Sno booth in the Home Depot parking lot at K-96 and Woodlawn.

Has anyone else out there located a shaved ice/ sno cone booth? Tell me where it is and what it’s called, if you know, and I’ll try to publish a list.

Wichita’s latest dining trend: FroYo for all

Yogurt Xplosion is one of the latest additions to Wichita's self-serve scene.

First it was hamburgers. Then it was hot dogs. (Actually, it’s still hamburgers and hot dogs)

Gelato had its moment. So did Japanese hibachi grills, followed by fast food-style Japanese hibachi grills.

The latest food trend in Wichita is frozen yogurt — specifically self-serve frozen yogurt.

Orange Leaf opened Wichita’s eyes to how much fun it can be to pull a lever and dump as much creamy goodness as you want into a bowl, top it with as many crushed up Oreo bits as you can handle and pay the price in ounces — and calories.

I love Orange Leaf, even though I try hard to avoid it, mainly because it’s very hard to exercise self control at such fabulous places. If there were no consequences to eating $10 worth of peanut butter frozen yogurt daily, I’d do it.

This week, I wrote my dining story about all the new frozen yogurt places planned for Wichita, and there are a lot of ‘em. Plan your summer eating tour with my handy guide, which will appear in the Go! section on Friday.