For July and August, we're bringing Chilled to Go, weekly posts on the best things you can get for takeout to beat the heat.
It’s unassuming as you turn onto San Jacinto Street from North Haskell Avenue. The Old East Dallas spot nearly looks like it’s not open for business. But it is, and it’s scooping flavorful shreds of ice in to-go containers to keep us cool all summer long.
Ruby’s Sno-Balls is serving this frozen treat that originated in New Orleans in the 1930s, according to the shop's site. You don’t get the sharp, super-crunchy ice here. Instead you get a soft, truly a snow-like texture from block ice that’s finely shaved.
The flavor toppings are what really make Ruby’s so great, though. Expect more than the standard flavors with nearly neon colors flooding over the ice. Here, they’re making flavors daily from fresh produce, coffee and tea along with pure cane sugar.
You can get classic flavors (creamsicle, cherry, etc.) but go for the specialty ones for something more memorable. The cucumber is bright and refreshing with just a slight sweetness. The mango actually tastes like you’ve blended the fruit with a bit of ice — once you get a spoonful, you won’t be able to stop.
A more decadent treat may be found in the cream flavors. The coconut option is in this category, yet doesn’t contain dairy and is a smooth treat.
Better yet, is the Vietnamese coffee flavor — this creamy, sweet pairing with bitter coffee works well in this sno-ball form. And if you happen to get both that and coconut, then you also happen to get both of those flavors on your spoon, you won’t be disappointed. (This is not an original idea, it’s an established drink — you can find one at Sandwich Hag.)
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Each of these come in white, paper-based packaging. It’s better for the environment than Styrofoam, and still holds up even after the ice (snow?) sits around for a while.
Every time I visited a place for snow cones, Slurpees or margaritas, posting pictures of my color-stained tongue, looking like a happy fool, I kept getting messages about Ruby’s. “I know, I know,” I’d say, “it’s on my list.” Finally, the trip here proved to be worth the hype.
What you get here isn’t just an ideal way to cool off in the afternoon this summer, it’s simply a delight you’ll want no matter the weather.
Ruby’s Sno-Balls, 1605 N. Haskell Ave. (Old East Dallas). Open 1 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.