Savvy Arizonans reach for refreshing frozen fruit pops during our infernal summer months.
Pop Stand at Rise Uptown
400 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix
Modern artisanal ice pops – also known as paletas here in the Sonoran Desert – bear little resemblance to the mass-produced summertime treats of your youth. Consider the mango margarita pop at Rise Uptown’s Pop Stand in Phoenix. Part of a rotating menu of fruity, dairy and boozy pops ($5-$6, pictured) designed to evoke the feels of a sun-splashed beach vacation, the tequila-spiked treat is the resort’s top seller, according to pop maker Salina Palmer. Using Robopop, a high-tech Brazilian contraption that’s designed to freeze 60 ice pops at a time, Palmer conjures her frozen-refreshement magic with a simple base of water, sugar and pure fruit purées, often leaving some fruit intact for extra chunkiness. She embraces traditional flavors, but also makes key lime pie, hibiscus and prickly pear pops.
96 W. Boston St., Chandler
Traditional Mexican paletas are made with fresh puréed fruits, dairy products and spices, including chile peppers and tamarind seeds. At Paletas Betty, you’ll find traditional flavors such as piña con chile – made with pineapple, water, sugar, lime juice, chiles and salt – alongside non-traditional offerings, such as manzana, a sugar-free green apple paleta mixed with spinach and kale ($3.50). Currently, fresa con crema, strawberry with milk and cream, is the most popular, according to store manager Elisha Field. “It tastes like a strawberry milkshake.” Some shops purée the fruit until smooth, but Paletas Betty leaves in chunks so that customers get the full fruit experience. If you have any ideas about new flavors, Paletas Betty welcomes your input and will give customer ideas a try.
5050 N. Seventh St., Phoenix
This Phoenix ice pop shop has more than 100 flavors, and the list keeps growing. “I have 30-45 flavors at a time,” says owner Pam Raphael. Customer favorites include salted caramel, with house-made caramel; raspberry lemonade, a tart but sweet blend that tastes exactly like a frosty glass of lemonade; and peach and prickly pear, with handpicked prickly pear that sports a distinct floral scent. To make the all-natural pops, Raphael pours the mixtures into molds and freezes them with a machine, sometimes making 150 at one time, depending on the flavor. A quick look at the menu reveals some interesting choices, including candied ginger-apple cream, chocolate-five spice, sesame-cucumber and goat milk-balsamic-fig. There’s something for everybody in this pop culture masterpiece.