Texas Living

A Tour of the Best Paletas in Texas

By Peter Simek 6.3.21

During summer months, throughout Texas’ many Mexican and Hispanic neighborhoods, paletas are everywhere. The delicious frozen treats — not quite ice pop, not quite ice cream, 100% delicious — are sold in specialty dessert shops, from ice cream trucks, and from pedal-powered or pushcart paletas vendors who wind the streets with coolers.

If you’ve never tried a paleta, you’re missing out. Paletas are frozen pops made with a huge range of flavors, from fruits like lime, watermelon, strawberry, and pineapple to more adventurous flavors like rompope (vanilla eggnog), rice pudding, and pecan. They’re whipped together with water, sugar, and sometimes milk and cream.

No one is quite sure about the origins of paletas. There are stories about Aztecs gathering snow from the tops of volcanoes to create frozen treats in Tenochtitlán, the precursor to Mexico City. In 1940s, as refrigeration spread through Mexico, paletas began being produced commercially, particularly in the state of Michoacán. Michoacán is still responsible for many of the commercial brands of paletas you can find in your local supermarket.

But paletas have always been a personal passion, and shops around Texas whip up their own styles and flavors, often using recipes that are closely guarded family secrets. The only way to sample that great variety of flavor is to head out on a tour of the best paletas in Texas.

Alma’s Paletería, Fort Worth

Jose Ponce’s parents opened Alma’s in 2002 to sell raspados, a Mexican take on shaved ice, because no other shops nearby were selling the desserts. They soon expanded to paletas and today produce some of the most delicious, adventurous frozen pops in the state.
Don’t miss flavors: The chocolate-dipped, shaved-coconut-garnished pecan and the spicy Abuelita hot chocolate-flavored pops

Paletería El Pibe, Houston

Christian and Tanya Bustamanente opened El Pibe in 2002 with the dream of making paletas for Houstonians from 100% all-natural ingredients. The couple also produces a range of bolis, ice creams, and ice cream bars.
Don’t-miss flavors: Galleta (cookies and cream), arroz (rice pudding), tamarindo, and nance

La Brisa, Houston

The Flores family opened this classic Houston paletas shop back in 1982, and ever since, the family has been offering up pops that push the boundaries of paletas, mixing exotic flavors and cultural influences.
Don’t-miss flavors: Dipped banana in chocolate, spicy tamarind diablito, and refreshing cantaloupe

La super best paletas in Texas
Courtesy of La Super Ice Cream Parlor

La Super Ice Cream Parlor, Dallas

This little ice cream shop was one of the original businesses on Jefferson Boulevard in the Dallas neighborhood of Oak Cliff that spearheaded a Hispanic revival of the shopping district. Their freshly made, handcrafted paletas are still some of the best around.
Don’t-miss flavors: Coconut, pecan, tamarind, and vanilla

Encanto Pops, Dallas

Located in Dallas’ Oak Cliff neighborhood, this relatively new arrival to the paletas scene produces its pops daily in-house at its Davis Street shop using all fresh fruit and natural ingredients. While some flavors may change with the seasons, its popular favorites are here to stay.
Don’t-miss flavors: Pomegranate sunrise, mango with chamoy, and the seasonal prickly pear-passion fruit. 

Paletería La Selva, Round Rock

Javier Rodriguez learned the paleta trade by apprenticing at Paletería Garcia in Abilene (now closed). These creamy pops offer more than 30 different flavors, including their famous strawberries and cream, a rich creamy popsicle with floating chunks of strawberry. Rodriguez also makes mini pops that are popular with the toddler set.
Don’t-miss flavors: Mango and chile, pecan, and strawberries and cream

Las Delicias, Austin

This family-run shop in North Austin makes a variety of paletas, from traditional flavors such as coconut and watermelon to flavors that harken back to the style of owner Carlos Nuñez’s home state of Guerrero. If you pop in, be sure to try the pops made with purple camote, a kind of sweet potato that makes the frozen treats taste like sweet potato pie.
Don’t-miss flavors: Purple camote

Paleteria best paletas in Texas
Courtesy of Paleteria San Antonio

Paletería San Antonio, San Antonio

Husband and wife team Joey and Cecy Rodriguez approach their paletas with a craft-conscious attention to flavor, rotating their offerings throughout the season to create frozen treats with the freshest ingredients available. To know what’s available, you have to stop in their shop to see what’s new. Expect to encounter traditional favorites such as mangonada, a spicy-salty mango-based traditional Mexican desert, as well as newer, whimsical concoctions.
Don’t-miss flavors: Fruity Pebbles, bubblegum, pickle, or whatever’s in season!

Paletería San Marcos, Farmers Branch and Richardson

This shop outside of Dallas also serves homemade ice cream and bolis — paletas-like frozen treats served inside a plastic sleeve. But if you stop in, you’ll want to start with the homemade paletas. Flavors range from milk-based — papaya with avocado and vanilla with raisin — to fruit-forward flavors such as tamarind with chile or guava.
Don’t-miss flavors: Eskimales San Marcos, a creamy milk paleta dipped in chocolate and covered with coconut

Picolé, Dallas and Austin

A relative newcomer on the scene, this shop offering a Brazilian spin on the frozen pop launched in Dallas and has since expanded to Austin.
Don’t miss flavors: S’mores: a vanilla pop dipped in chocolate, coated in marshmallow caramelized with a blowtorch, and rolled in graham cracker crumbles

Now that you’ve sufficiently cooled off, heat your summer up with these six amazing local Texas hot sauces.

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