Three scoops of ice cream sandwiched between banana halves, drizzled with chocolate sauce buried under whipped cream and a cherry.
The juice from a strawberry frozen fruit bar running down on to sticky fingers. A traditional wafer cone topped with a dollop of homemade sherbet. So what if the weather in San José has taken a chilly turn in the last couple of weeks? It’s still summer, and it’s still sweltering on the beaches – time for ice cream.
Dozens of chain ice cream stores abound, but for something truly special, here are a few shops worth checking out.
Specializes in: Ice Cream
Recommendations: Ice Cream Crepe, Chocolate Sundae
Founded 11 years ago by owners Eduardo and Esther Balarezo, Crem Rica offers a rich selection of delicious ice cream cakes, crepes, pies and sundaes. All ice creams are made in the store, a fact that the Balarezos take pride in.
“Our ice cream is especially distinctive because it’s not mass produced,” says Esther. “You can’t just go into a supermarket and buy it.”
Ice creams come in a variety of flavors, from popular chocolate, vanilla and strawberry to more unique flavors such as lúcuma (a Peruvian fruit often used in desserts), pistachio and cherry.
Crem Rica also offers fruit sherbets, gourmet coffees and light snacks.
Prices: Ice cream and sherbet, scoop ¢335-¢720 ($0.75-$1.70); banana split ¢940-¢1,130 ($2.25-$3); crepe ¢880 ($2); sundae ¢460-¢1,035 ($1-$2.50).
Located: Curridabat, east of San José, 150 meters east of the Indoor Club.
Specializes in: Tradition
Recommendations: A simple scoop, Granizado with milk For more than 100 years, Las Delicias has been serving up its special handmade ice cream and it never seems to get old, as evidenced by a packed counter on a recent Wednesday afternoon. The ice cream counter has seen four generations of the Mora family, and is one of the oldest businesses in the Central Market.
The store has only one flavor – cinnamon with vanilla – which some people say tastes like eggnog.
“Once in a while we’ll have a seasonal flavor, such as chocolate or guanabana [sour sop] but cinnamon with vanilla is what we’re known for,” says Marlon Soto, an ice cream maker at Las Delicias.
Ingredients are all natural and the ice cream is made in large cooler containers right at the counter.
Las Delicias also serves granizados, which consist of a scoop of ice cream with shaved ice and cola-flavored syrup. Granizados can also be served with regular or powdered milk.
Prices: Ice Cream, ¢375-850 ($0.75–$2). Granizados, ¢440-540 ($1–$1.25). Granizados with milk, ¢460-630 ($1–$1.50).
Location: San José, inside the Central Market, near the southeast entrance, Av Central/1, Ca 6/8.
Specializes in: Paletas (A Popsicle-like treat)
Recommendations: Yogurt with Granola, Mango with Chile
Crafted with care, La Michoacana makes all its frozen confections on the premises.
“Our paletas are known for their larger size [bigger than an average Popsicle] and because we make them with the freshest ingredients possible,” says owner Solomon Franklin. According to him, these desserts from the Mexican state of Michoacán were first made in the 1940s and grew in popularity across the country. It is said that there is a Michoacán ice cream store in every town in Mexico that has a population exceeding 1,000.
Franklin opened the store last September, and has plans to expand within Costa Rica this year.
The more than two dozen fruit- and cream-based flavors include traditional raspberry and lime as well as Mexican-influenced flavors, such as mango with chile and rice pudding. Paletas also come in smaller sizes especially for children, as well as in several sugar-free flavors.
The store also sells ice creams and sorbets.
Prices: Fruit-based paletas, small ¢100 ($0.25), large ¢250 ($0.50). Cream-based paletas, small ¢100 ($0.25), large ¢350 ($0.75). Ice Cream, small ¢350 ($0.25), large ¢450 ($1).
Located: Sabana Oeste, west of San José, 500 meters west of the Museo La Salle, beside Aqua Lux.