- Butterfinger snowball from 4th Street Treats
A sno-ball is the ultimate cool-down concoction in and around the Crescent City, perched indefinitely in the top of to-eat-in-New-Orleans lists, alongside po-boys, gumbo and crawfish. Like other items on that list, sno-balls — and what makes one "the best" — are hotly debated. Which stand has the best syrup? Are the servings a good size? Which one has the best ice? What constitutes good ice anyway?
Other inexpensive refreshing treats in the area — hucklebucks, aguas frescas, Korean shaved ice, frozen custard, Popsicles, bubble tea — aren't contenders for the sno-ball's position but rather fodder for questions, the primary one being, "Where can I find it?"
To answer those questions one must venture into many neighborhoods — and carry cash.
• Ideal Market (250 S. Broad St.; 653 Terry Pkwy., Gretna; 3805 Hessmer Ave., Metairie; www.laidealmarket.com) – Aguas frescas here come in traditional flavors, like tamarind, passion fruit and pineapple.
• St. Coffee (2709 St. Claude Ave., 504-872-9798; www.stcoffee.com) – Aguas frescas from St. Coffee are in seasonal flavors, like coconut ginger lime.
• Frosty's Cafe (2800 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey, 504-361-9099; 3400 Cleary Ave., Metairie, 504-888-9600) – Frosty's is home to a wide selection of bubble tea flavors, including chai tea, red bean and taro.
• Mr. Bubbles Sandwich House (925 Behrman Hwy., Gretna; 504-570-6377) – Flavors like strawberry, peach and watermelon are available for boba tea newbies, but flavors like durian, jackfruit and pennywort are available for the pros.
• Rolls N Bowls (605 Metairie Road, Metairie, 504-309-0519; www.facebook.com/rollsnbowlsnola) – Varieties of bubble tea are blended in house and given names like the Southern Belle, which is a blend of peach, lychee and banana.
• 4th Street Treats (415 Fourth St., Bridge City, 504-644-4786) – The difference between ice cream and frozen custard is that frozen custard is made with eggs, in addition to cream and sugar.
• 1722 N. Broad St. — Lester and Carolyn Vallet serve strawberry, lemon, orange and pink lemonade hucklebucks with fruit cocktail frozen in them. Grape, bubble gum and strawberry-orange are fruit-free.
• 2413 Allen St. — In addition to traditional flavors such as pineapple, coconut and spearmint, there also are special 7th Ward and Jamaican flavors.
• Meltdown (508 Dumaine St.; 4011 St. Claude Ave., 504-301-0905; www.meltdownpops.com) – There's a unique selection of frozen treats, including salted caramel and pineapple cilantro.
• Honeydeux (1912 Magazine St., 504-301-3227; www.honeydeuxnola.com) – Shaved ice is described as sno-ball ice topped with fruit syrup, evaporated milk, fresh fruit, condensed milk and a scoop of ice cream.
• Lickety Split's Sweet Shop (1043 Poland Ave., 504-304-7080; www.facebook.com/licketysplitsnola) — The '50s diner-themed shop offers a sour watermelon flavor, the Calliope pop, named after the slang term for watermelon slice lollipops that were popular around 1996.
• NOLA Snowballs & Sweets (7300 Read Blvd.) — The stand offers Red Bull and Monster sno-balls and skillfully blends flavors to satisfy customers' cravings.
• Piety Street Sno-Balls (612 Piety St., 504-782-2569) — With flavors ranging from the familiar nectar to the experimental lemon basil, Piety Street Sno-Balls stands out as the king of flavors. The Vietnamese coffee flavor comes highly recommended, but, without condensed milk, is more granita than sno-ball.
• Rodney's Snowball Stand (9231 Lake Forest Blvd., 504-241-2035) — East Beasts are loyal to Rodney's, known for putting gummy bears on sno-balls. The cotton candy cheesecake flavor is more reminiscent of real cotton candy than the standard cotton candy flavor is.
• Sal's Sno-Balls (1823 Metairie Ave., Metairie, 504-666-1823) – Sal's list of flavors is limited and includes the elusive white chocolate and chips flavor. The snow is flaky with no lumps.
• Screamin' Meanies Snowballs and More (128 Packenham Ave., Chalmette) – There's a drive-through window, and slightly tart flavors like strawberry lemonade or boysenberry work great with the super-soft ice.
• Snow World (629 Behrman Hwy., Gretna) – The sugar-free sno-balls are perfect substitutes for the real thing and come in popular flavors like wedding cake and ice cream.
• Stop Jockin' Sno-Ball Stand (3600 St. Bernard Ave., 504-288-9585) – The ice is soft but stands up to syrup at this combination barbershop/beauty salon/sno-ball stand. Tropical sunrise is a house-made flavor that's fruity but not too sweet.
• Sugah Shack (7012 W. Judge Perez Hwy., Arabi, 504-278-4657) – Sugah Shack is one of the few sno-ball stands to offer a tamarind flavor.