Cool off with frozen delights that make for refreshing summertime snacks.
By Ben McBee
When the heat returns to Newport Beach, it’s time to chill and enjoy a frozen treat. After a dip in the salty ocean, indulging your sweet tooth just feels different—in the best kind of way. At these eateries, you’ll find that happiness lies somewhere between warm sunshine on your skin and an ice-cold confection in your hands. Whether you order one to enjoy while lounging on the sand, strolling the peninsula or sitting down for a picnic, they offer a true taste of summer.
Milk & Cookies
Pleasant contrasts in taste and temperature await at Milk & Cookies. “We created Milk & Cookies with one thing in mind—to get back to the classics,” says owner Chasen McNaughton. “Classic cookies that are always served warm, artisanal ice cream made in small batches with all natural ingredients, and the best milk you will ever have.”
With 12 freshly baked cookie varieties and eight ice cream flavors (not to mention six types of milk), the possibilities for a cookie and scoop, or ice cream sandwich, are endless. You can keep it simple with a chocolate chunk cookie and a bit of vanilla bean ice cream, or try a more unique combo, like a Lemon Cooler cookie with lavender ice cream.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that McNaughton’s favorite is a s’more cookie, paired with—you guessed it—Cookies & Creme. “It’s the most amazing thing I have ever had. Possibly the best Cookies & Creme in the world,” he says. “We use only the highest-quality ingredients to provide our customers with the ultimate dessert experience.” (949-287-6198; cookiebox.com)
Sugar ‘N Spice
Any tour of chilled sweets is incomplete until you bite into a Balboa Bar. Though the exact origins of this quintessential Newport Beach dessert are disputed, one thing is for certain, Sugar ‘n Spice has been a go-to purveyor of Balboa Bars and frozen bananas (another local delicacy) since 1945. The classic Balboa Bars start with either vanilla or chocolate ice cream on a stick. From there, each is dipped in nondairy chocolate, premium dark chocolate, peanut butter or cherry, and rolled in whatever toppings you desire. Rainbow sprinkles? They have them. Almonds or Oreo crumbles? Why not both? And a new topping debuts for a limited time every month. For June, the Topping of the Month is Rainbow Chips (brightly colored candy-coated chocolate chips).
Each order can be further customized with a drizzle of sauce; there are seven to choose from, including caramel, strawberry and marshmallow. It sounds like a treat that couldn’t be improved, but recently, it was. When the shop’s usual ice cream bar distributor was not able to fulfill their order, Sugar ‘n Spice owners Will and Courtney Alovis found a new source that crafts the bars in a different shape—oval—and in a new additional flavor: dairy-free mango. “What’s more, they are better on every note,” Will says. Delicious and handheld, this treat is ideal for cruising the boardwalk and soaking up the bay scenery. (949-673-8907; sugarnspicebalboaisland.com)
You can probably tell this Fashion Island spot specializes in authentic gelato. But, for those seeking a scrumptious, dairy-free option, the shop’s sorbetto is just as rich and heavenly, and your taste buds definitely won’t miss out. Made with juice instead of milk, it’s the perfect refreshment to cool you off as you browse the boutiques. While there are plenty of colorful options on the other side of the glass, you can’t go wrong with the Bacche. Made with locally sourced produce, this “fruit of the forest” concoction features ripe raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries. (949-718-9800; gelatoparadiso.com)
A favorite with locals and visitors alike since 1997, Banzai Bowls’ acai-based creations are light, healthy and offer a boost of energy for a full day at the beach. Like a smoothie with delicious toppings piled on, each menu item is worth a try, but the Maui Sunrise is hard to beat. The blend of coconut milk, pineapple juice, acai, banana, strawberry and mango dances a tropical tango across your tongue. Granola and shredded coconut add a satisfying crunchy texture on top, along with more sliced fruit (bananas, strawberries and blueberries), plus raw honey sourced from a local bee farm. Nothing is ever prepackaged or pre-made; you can watch the staff prepare each bowl by hand, using only the freshest ingredients. That little extra time and effort means the line can be long sometimes, but it’s certainly worth the wait. (949-200-9389; banzaibowls.com)
At Atomic Creamery, you’ll find plenty of nostalgia, from the 1950s milkshake spindles to the story behind the colorful Fairy Floss milkshake. “Its inspiration was the 1904 World’s Fair and the tremendous response to fairy floss, or cotton candy,” explains founder Kari Kohen-Leasure. “I wanted to have one shake that was decadent—so right, but so wrong. All of our shakes are finished off for that wow factor, but this one we took over the top.”
To start, Big Blue soda is cooked down in-house to make a blue raspberry cotton candy. Then, premium vanilla ice cream is combined with Pop Rocks and a Sour Patch drizzle. It’s all adorned with whipped cream and a dollop of Unicorn Poop candy, which will surely make the kids giggle (and possibly fall into a gleeful sugar coma shortly after). (949-630-5884; atomiccreamery.com)