Flor de Michoacán
4344 W. Indian School Ave.,
Suite 1, Phoenix;
THE DISH: Paletes, irresistible Mexican popsicles made with agua or crema, in a rainbow of exotic flavors.
THE VIBE: A riot of tropicalia tucked away in a strip mall; a huge hit with homesick Mexican families and Phoenix schoolkids.
BEST BITES: Water paletes with guava or tamarind. Also try the aguas frescas (tropical drinks) and horchatas, a cinnamony rice milk.
Bombay Ice Creamery
552 Valencia St.,
San Francisco; 415/431-1103
THE DISH: Kulfi, an Indian treat made from frozen condensed milk. Most popular flavors: cardamom and saffron-pistachio.
THE VIBE: Part of an Indian emporium packed with spices and Bollywood movies; patronized by a mix of the Mission's pierced and pampered.
BEST BITES: Pistachio kulfi topped with rose syrup and rice noodles, or a scoop of house-made chai or fig ice cream.
899 Main St.,
THE DISH: Gelato in dozens of amazing flavors, from the legendary burnt caramel to Grape Nuts and nocciola (hazelnut).
THE VIBE: America's most militantly perfectionist ice cream maker draws a mix of Cambridge philosophers, physicists, and dessert diehards.
BEST BITES: The prune and Armagnac glace, indulgent with cream, eggs, and nuggets of brandy-macerated prunes.
194 Grand St.,
New York City; 212/334-3669
THE DISH: Ais kacang, a type of Malaysian shaved ice flavored with rose essence and topped with lotus seeds.
THE VIBE: A perpetually busy Malaysian restaurant on the edge of Little Italy crowded with downtown types and Asian hipsters.
BEST BITES: ABC—a shaved ice sundae—with bits of Jell-O, sweet corn, and palm sugar syrup. Trust us, it's good.
Ted Drewes Frozen Custard
6726 Chippewa St., St. Louis;
THE DISH: Frozen custard—soft, luxurious, and as American as, well, the ice cream cone.
THE VIBE: An icon of Americana on old Route 66—down to the vintage neon sign outside. Truckers with a sweet tooth love it.
BEST BITES: The mythical "concrete," a frozen shake so thick you can flip the cup over without spilling a drop.