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What: Your standard snow cone, this is not. The legendary New Orleans sno-ball, a summertime tradition dating back to at least the 1930s, is a much more artisanal concoction. Pride is taken over how finely the ice is shaved. Syrups are often handmade. Flavors run the gamut from strawberry and spearmint to fresh-squeezed blood orange and cardamom (not all together, unless that’s your thing). People are passionate about sno-balls here. Sometimes garishly colored and quick-to-drip messy, the good ones manage to be surprisingly delicate, often subtly sweet, and wonderfully cooling. Do not visit NOLA in the warm months without trying this.
Where: Of the many beloved sno-ball spots in town, Hansen’s Sno-Bliz (4801 Tchoupitoulas St., map) Uptown came with the highest recommendations. And for good reason: Its founder, the late Ernest Hansen, was one of the first to build an ice-shaving machine back in the 1930s; his wife, Mary, introduced the tradition of making her own flavored syrups thereafter. Nowadays the unassuming corner spot, run by Hansen’s granddaughter, stands out for (still) using only handmade syrups, made fresh daily with distilled water and cane sugar. If it’s sunny out, expect a line.
When: Tues-Sun, 1pm-7pm in season (approx. March-October 1)
Order: Lots of good flavors to choose from, but as it was the summer satsuma (orange) season, we started with that…and then added sweet cream of nectar (a traditional ice cream soda flavor around here). Prices range $1.50-$20 (for a big tub); the size pictured cost $4 plus $1 for the condensed milk we had drizzled on top. Here was tart and refreshing (the satsuma) meets sweet and fun, the cream of nectar tasting like the love child of bubblegum and cream soda. Despite the thick, supersweet condensed milk—other popular toppings include marshmallow, whipped cream, ice cream, crushed fruit—the sno-blitz was surprisingly light, largely thanks to the exceptionally fine, fluffy shaved ice Hansen’s original machinery churns out. Syrups and ice are methodically layered a few times in order to ensure the final product is properly saturated. We also tried the flavorful ginger and elegant rosemary (among Hansen’s “fancy flavors”), each unadorned and delicious.
Alternatively: Among the other beloved sno-balls in town (and there are many) are those from Pandora’s Snowballs (901 N. Carrollton Ave., map) in Mid-City—where orchid vanilla and wedding cake are popular flavors—and Uptown’s Plum Street Snoball (1300 Burdette St., map), established in 1945. Here’s a few more recs from Eater.com.
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