Words and photos by Monica Hruby
With warm weather approaching, it’s time to start scoping our go-to spots for cool, summer treats. While we like an ice cream sundae or milkshake as much as the next nostalgic kid-at-heart, we also knew the Peninsula has more flavors to offer: Japanese mochi, Latin paletas and Korean soft serve to name a few.
We did some digging — and lots of indulging — to bring you our list of craziest (and coolest) treats on the Peninsula this summer. Enjoy!
Milkcow — San Bruno
A soft-serve treat that originated in Korea, Milkcow came to the Tanforan mall in San Bruno in 2015. Best known for vanilla soft-serve with a honeycomb cube, customers can go as simple as chocolate-vanilla swirl and adventure all the way to a Santorini — vanilla base with chocolate hazelnut syrup, cocoa balls and a cotton candy afro on top. Prices range from $3 to $5.
Our over-the-top Santorini led us into contemplation about the unlikelihood of successfully mixing the spun sugar with the ice cream below so we took our time, enjoyed the circus treat topper and then happily spooned our cool, dairy delight (with sticky fingers).
If you can manage a mall crowd, Milkcow is worth a visit. Stick to the classic vanilla and a single topping if you’re looking for a refreshing treat. Go for the Santorini on special occasions.
// 1150 El Camino Real, San Bruno // Mon-Sat 10am-9pm, Sun 11am-8pm //
Los Manguitos — Redwood City
Walk into Los Manguitos in Redwood City and you’ll be greeted by their friendly staff, chopping mangos and strawberries while serving up some of the Peninsula’s finest Mexican desserts.
Feel like something light? Try one of their paletas, water-based ice pops, which come in flavors you wouldn’t find at Safeway — guava, plum, strawberries and creme, lemon and rice ($2 each).
We made a last-minute decision when we saw a Mangonada being blended for the customer ahead of us. We couldn’t resist the fusion of mango chunks and chamoy, the classic Mexican sauce made with apricots, chilies, lime and sugar that’s typically used in the beer-based Michelada. The Mangonada ($5) comes with a candied-chile straw though we enjoyed it with a spoon. The spice of the chamoy keeps you intrigued through the entire cup and the fresh, icy mango leaves you feeling refreshed.
// 3133 Middlefield Rd, Redwood City // Mon 8:30am-9pm, Tues-Fri 8:30am-5pm, Sat 8:30am-10pm, Sun 8:30–9:30pm //
Palo Alto Creamery— Palo Alto
Just because it’s a Peninsula staple doesn’t mean the Palo Alto Creamery should be left out of the frozen treat conversation. Sometimes all you want is a real good milkshake and if you’ve accepted the high price tag (starts at $7.50, add toppings for an additional cost) then look no further.
The 50’s-style diner has red pin seats, a checkered floor and the wafting smell of freshly baked pies will have you skip dinner and dive straight into dessert. We chose a peanut butter ice cream shake with Oreos mixed in. A classic combo done well.
The milkshake was silky smooth and the thick sauce on the bottom allowed each bite to be a chocolaty one. Served classic-style in a tall glass with leftovers in the metal blender pitcher, we appreciated having that little something extra as we never wanted our peanut butter, Oreo goodness to end.
// 566 Emerson St, Palo Alto. // Mon-Wed 7am-10pm, Thurs 7am-11pm, Fri 7am-12am, Sat 8am-12am, Sun 8am-10pm //
California Mochi #2 — Mountain View
Mochi ice cream has hit Mountain View with California Mochi #2 (#1 is in Santa Clara).
The beloved Japanese dessert is given a cold, ice cream filling which is delectable but not so nice on the front teeth. We bit into the sticky rice ball, allowed the ice cream to melt in our mouths, then chewed the mochi. Maneuvering the freezing pain takes some getting used to, but worth the effort. Flavors include salted caramel, matcha green tea, raspberry white choco crunch, and mandarin orange cream (Two for $4.30).
Along with serving mochi ice cream, they also make fresh fruit mochi: inside the classic rice exterior is a piece of fruit accompanied by chocolate or bean paste. Pick your mochi and your filling. We went for the Choco Berry Mochi — a strawberry double dipped in chocolate surrounded by a sweet rice dough and castella powder (One for $3.50). A wonderful combo and how we’d imagine Valentine’s Day in Japan.
// 570 N Shoreline Blvd B, Mountain View // Tues-Fri 11:30am-7pm, Sat-Sun 11:30am-5pm //
Scoop Microcreamery — Palo Alto
Scoop is a dollop of perfection. As you enter, the smell of waffle cones is inescapable and soon you’re met with a case of unique, small batch options — olive oil and pignoli, pumpkin with ginger streusel and strawberry balsamic sorbet to name a few.
We decided on a sundae ($7.95) — three scoops of whatever ice cream and whatever toppings and sauce we wanted. We had to pinch ourselves to continue the order. We settled on brown sugar banana, speculicious (speculoos cookies and cream), and hella nutella (self-explanatory) and topped it with chocolate hard shell, whipped cream, speculoos cookie crumbs and maraschino cherries.
A perfect way to end our summer treat search through the Peninsula and maybe our most enjoyable stop.
// 203 University Ave, Palo Alto // Sun-Thurs 12pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-11pm //