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Restaurants & Bars 5

Handmade Hielo Raspado in Santa Rosa

Melanie Wong | Sep 2, 200204:00 AM

In the heat of Sunday’s scorcher, I headed for “taco truck row” on Sebastopol Road looking for something to cool off with. I spotted the small trailer unit for El Dorado Icee’s in the parking lot of Super Latino Market and Panaderia on Sebastopol Road.

The owner was standing outside, and as I began to peruse the long list of flavors, he apologized that he had locked himself out. I was back in the car when he called out to me to come back. He had managed to jimmy a window open. He asked if I minded if he jumped inside. Not at all, I replied. He hopped in, handed me the keys, and asked me to unlock the door from the outside. He thanked me profusely for saving his evening. Now we were in business!

The draw here is hielo raspado – Mexican style shave ice. But instead of the fine, snowy texture of shave ice, raspado has a coarse grain that you can bite into. This stand uses a plane-like tool, rather than a chopping machine, to hand rasp the bits of ice from a big block. The ice stays clear in appearance, looking like cut crystal, rather than whitish, similar to the photo below that I found on the web.

Instead of returning to the long list of flavors (tequila, bubble gum, mango, orange, etc.), I asked him instead whether he made any of the flavoring syrups himself. He puffed up with the pride, and said that tamarindo, strawberry, guava, coconut, and rum are his own concoctions. He recommended the coconut or rum, but I went instead with the guava. This syrup was a deep yellow-gold in color, and had bits of candied guava. And, I went for the optional drizzle of condensed milk on top.

The raspados come in two sizes, $1 or $2. Even on this very hot afternoon, hardly any of the ice melted, due to the coarse grain. I really liked the cooling effect as it slowly melted as it slid down the throat, instead of melting completely in the mouth. Certainly worth checking out this icy refreshment as we move into the heat of Indian summer.


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