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Photo by © Chuck Cook Photography

A national survey finds that Houston just isn't a great city to eat ice cream. Gird thyself: According to a list of of the best (and worst) ice cream cities in America, H-Town is the fifth-worst city in the U.S.

The survey, compiled by real estate brokerage Home Bay, ranks 50 cities using factors such as the number of ice cream shops per capita, the price of a small cup or cone (using Ben & Jerry's as a benchmark), average annual temperature, and Google searches. Data sources include the U.S. Census Bureau, Yelp, and Google Trends.

The best
The best cities for ice cream have more shops (an average of 4.9 ice cream shops per 100,000 people), a high interest in ice cream (Google searches), and better prices, with a small cup of Ben & Jerry's averaging $4.47 versus the $4.50 residents pay in the average city.

Here's a surprise: Oklahoma City is America's best ice cream city, thanks to a high number of ice cream shops per capita as well as affordability.

The top 10 cities in the U.S. for ice cream are as follows:

  1. Oklahoma City
  2. New Orleans
  3. Las Vegas
  4. San Jose
  5. Providence
  6. Raleigh NC
  7. Salt Lake City
  8. Austin
  9. Boston
  10. Philadelphia

Way to go, Austin! At least one Texas city makes the list. This is what they say about Austin's ice cream scene:

Austin excels when it comes to appreciation of different ice cream styles. The city ranks third in our ice cream variety metric thanks to frequent searches for ice cream types and flavors. The slogan "Keep Austin Weird" is appropriate with so many locals going bananas: The city ranks first in online search interest for banana ice cream. Visitors can find two different types of banana ice cream — banana cream pie and strawberry banana — at local chain Amy's Ice Creams. Additionally, Austin has the seventh-warmest average temperature in our study, making ice cream especially appreciated as a sweet treat for relief from the heat.

And as a subset of this ice cream survey, San Antonio wins the No. 1 slot for Best Shaved Ice.

The worst
The bottom 10 cities, including Houston, have fewer ice cream shops, higher costs, and less ice cream interest in the topic, which they judge by the number of Google searches for topics such as "ice cream near me" and "ice cream flavors."

The 10 worst ice cream cities are as follows:

  1. Memphis
  2. Riverside, California
  3. Washington D.C.
  4. Miami
  5. Houston
  6. Baltimore
  7. Los Angeles
  8. Sacramento
  9. Dallas
  10. Jacksonville

These cities have only 2.2 ice cream shops per 100,000 people. The average city has 3.4 shops per 100,000 people. And Dallas has only 1.9 ice cream shops per 100,000 people.

But wait! That number is due to rise, with the recent arrival of chains such as Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams and Van Leeuwen, joining stalwart locals such as Flower & Cream, Milk & Sugar, Sweet Bribery, Cloud 10 Creamery, and Fat Cat Creamery, which has locations in both Garden Oaks and the Heights.

Ice cream in these worst cities is also more expensive. A small cup of ice cream averages $4.80 in the bottom 10 cities, versus $4.50 for the average city in the study.

Ice cream in Missouri and Alabama is the cheapest: $3.99 for a small Ben & Jerry's cone. Washington DC is the most expensive, at $5.35 for a cone.

Photo by Michael Anthony

Fresh new popsicle and gelato shop chills out in East End with fruity flavors and tantalizing treats

so cool

A new shop provides East End residents with a way to get a little relief from the summer heat. Popston will celebrate its grand opening Saturday, July 23.

Located in The Plant, the development that also includes Cafe Louie and wine bar How to Survive on Land and Sea, Popston serves as the brick and mortar home for native Houstonian Jonathan Delgado's innovative popsicles. The 1,000-square-foot “factory” features a walk-up window with a mural created by Houston artists Joybrush Designs and Dual Streets.

“I’m excited to bring Popston to the Second Ward, specifically The Plant, because I love the community,” Delgado said in a statement. “Everyone has welcomed Popston with open arms and has made me feel like part of the neighborhood from the start.”

Diners will find a range of fruit flavors such as mangonada with tajin, fresh watermelon, mango kiwi, and blueberry mojito as well as seasonal flavors like pistachio and rosewater. Gelato choices include mascarpone with berries, chocolate sea salt, Oreo cookies and cream, and, of course, Shipley’s doughnuts. Prices run between $2.50 and $7 per popsicle.

Delgado got his start selling popsicles from a cart at METRO stops around Houston. Over time, he built a following by serving at White Oak Music Hall, Hermann Park, and the Houston Arboretum. True to its roots, customers who arrive via bicycle, walking, or METRO Rail will receive a 10 percent discount.

“I’ve known Jonathan for a while, and he is beloved by all,” said Jeff Kaplan, managing principal at Concept Neighborhood, the real estate development firm behind The Plant. “His friendly and creative spirit is exactly the kind of voice we wanted to anchor the corner of Harrisburg and Sampson. Jonathan is truly a popsicle artist and is so thoughtful about how he infuses fruits and flavors that are traditional to Mexico and South America.”

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Popston is located at 3401 Harrisburg Blvd. Hours are 11 am to 8 pm Tuesday through Thursday and 11 am to 10 pm Friday through Sunday.

Free froyo '10,000 scoop' charity challenge chills out downtown

so chill

Houston’s return to 90-plus-degrees days (in the shade, not counting feels-like) means a cold treat is in order. Towards that end, a sweet, national charitable campaign aims to raise funds for a beloved charity while helping locals chill out.

Dubbed The 10,000 Scoop Challenge, this campaign will see local celebrities dishing out up to 10,000 scoops of free frozen yogurt to hungry and hot Houstonians from 11 am to 3 pm Wednesday, June 8 at Discovery Green downtown.

For every scoop dished out and consumed, ice cream manufacturer Kemp’s will donate $1 to The Salvation Army Greater Houston, for a total of $10,000.

One caveat: the Moose Tracks flavor fro-yo cones need to be scooped and consumed in just four hours.

Celeb hosts, which include notable names and familiar media personalities, will clearly have to be prepared to scoop and serve for the thousands expected to descend upon Discovery Green for this cool event.

Fans can enjoy the Moose Tracks frozen yogurt (made with fudge and peanut butter cups swirled into vanilla frozen yogurt), snap pics with Tracks, the Moose Tracks mascot, and meet and greet the hosts.

Since Kemp’s and Moose Tracks hosted its inaugural 10,000 Scoops Challenge social event in 2010 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the event has visited more than 40 cities, raising more than $400,000 for charities in respective cities.

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The 10,000 Scoop Challenge benefiting The Salvation Army Greater Houston runs from 11 am to 3 pm Wednesday, June 8 at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney St.

Courtesy of Yonutz

Smash ice cream doughnut shop from Miami bringing cool spot to Houston area

So hot it’s cool

A Miami-based dessert shop is bringing its ice cream-stuffed smashed doughnuts to the Houston area. Yonutz will open its first store in Pearland Town Center later this year, the company announced.

Consider the signature Nutella Crunch Smash Donut that's cut in half, filled with cookie dough ice cream, heated in a waffle iron-style griddle, and topped with Oreos, cereal crunch, and Nutella drizzle. It's a hot and cold taste experience that's won awards at the annual Dessert Wars competition and attracted an investment from former Shank Tank cast member Kevin Harrington, according to a release.

With Harrington on board, co-founders Jennifer and Tony Bahu have plans to grow Yonutz from its current two locations in Sunrise, Florida lland Las Vegas to more than 20 nationwide, including two in the Houston area. To prepare for the expansion, Yonutz has updated its branding and will equip stores with Instagrammable elements such as neon signs and custom murals.

“Our goal with this rebrand and franchising is to expand upon the fun and innovative Yonutz brand,” Tony Bahu said in a statement. “With our elaborate desserts, immersive ambiance, colorful packaging and outstanding customer service, we will continue to provide a fantastical experience to dessert lovers everywhere and allow fans all over the United States to partake in the Yonutz experience.”

Smashed doughnuts are at the heart of the Yonutz experience, but the menu also includes conventional, non-ice cream filled doughnuts as well as milkshakes. A "secret menu" — available to anyone who joins the company's free VIP club — offers even more choices.

“By creating such an innovative and immersive experience, guests from all over the country will finally get to indulge in our one-of-a-kind products, like the Smash Donut, that truly sets us apart,” added Jennifer Bahu. “We are so thrilled to be able to share our excitement and fantastical desserts with new customers.”

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Iconic Austin blues club brings the show to fans with new indie livestreaming platform

Live on Live

If legendary Austin blues club Antone’s is your vibe, but the drive to Capital City isn't, you’re in luck. Antone’s Nightclub launched a new service for livestreaming its shows in November.

Kicking off with New Orleans-based funk and jam band Dumpstaphunk, for their special “Phunksgiving” show last month with Michael Hale Trio, the full lineup is delineated on the Antone’s website. Specifics were still loose before the launch, allowing the famous blues club to call the shots. The partner agency that created the streaming service, 3rd + Lamar, created the system to give Antone’s as much freedom as possible.

"Partnering with Antone's to build their livestreaming platform and produce each of their shows is an incredible opportunity for 3rd + Lamar," said the agency’s co-founder Nick Schenck in a press release. "The amazing talent that performs at Antone's – and their fans worldwide – deserve best-in-class live production quality, and we're thrilled to play a part in this operation."

Not that Antone’s needed to stand out more in the music industry (the nearly 50-year-old venue has always been one of the best places to see both local and national talent), but this achievement places it among relatively few venues across the country, especially those that operate their system independently.

The intimate Antone's shows are filmed by four Blackmagic 4K cinema cameras on tracks overhead, which ensure that the whole space is easily visible without having camera operators amid the audience.

“We did over 430 individually ticketed shows in 2019 and we felt like we were bursting at the seams,” said Antone’s owner Will Bridges. “Then when livestreams became more prominent during the pandemic we realized, this is our opportunity to take Antone’s outside of our four walls. … [W]e see people in the comment threads all the time saying ‘If I could only be teleported to Antone’s!’ Well now they can.”

The release emphasizes that the system means Antone’s “fully retain[s] ownership of their content, which can then be utilized at their discretion.” It also calls the service “an add-on option for all artists performing at Antone’s,” positioning the service as not just an audience luxury but a performer’s low-cost marketing tool. Suddenly, artists playing at Antone’s are afforded a choice without needing to be invited to record or pay an independent video team, while reaching even more viewers with no extra time spent advertising.

“Our ultimate goal is to make these amazing musical experiences accessible to everyone. Life is busy, but we want to give everyone the opportunity to participate no matter where they are or what they have going on,” said Bridges. “We want to make livestreams from Antone’s totally commonplace. When we announce our upcoming shows, fans have two options: watch it at the club our watch it at home.”

Livestreams are at antonesnightclub.com, and links also appear with each applicable event across the site. Prices are listed on the website, and livestreams start 10-20 minutes before each show.

Alt-rock legends Red Hot Chili Peppers heading to Houston for 2023 North American tour

one hot minute

One of alternative rock's most pioneering and enduring acts is headed to Houston to close out a highly anticipated North American tour next year. Red Hot Chili Peppers will play Minute Maid Park on Thursday, May 25, 2023 as part of a North American trek that kicks off in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 29.

Houston lands the honor of the closeout city for the North American tour (the band will also play a slew of dates in Europe). Effortlessly hip, celeb-fave modern rock band The Strokes will support the Chili Peppers, along with the talented bassist-vocalist Thundercat.

Tickets go on sale this week at 10 am Friday, December 9 online.

Houston fans who can't get enough can also catch the Chili Peppers when they hit The Alamodome in San Antonio on Wednesday, May 17 — the only other Texas date.

Aside from The Strokes and Thundercat, supporting acts along the way include Iggy Pop, The Roots, The Mars Volta, St. Vincent, City and Colour, and King Princess.

Touring in support of their two No. 1 studio albums released in 2022, Unlimited Love and Return of the Dream Canteen, the Chili Peppers have been played sold-out shows in London, Paris, Los Angeles, and more with major names such as Notable artists such as A$AP Rocky, Anderson.Paak, Beck, and HAIM.

The first rock band in 17 years to score two No. 1 albums in one year, the band has been red hot on the Billboard charts and at the MTV Video Music Awards, where they received the Global Icon Award and brought the house down with a performance of the No. 1 single “Black Summer,'' which also won the award for Best Rock Video.

Fronted by the impossibly chiseled and ageless (he's 60!) Anthony Kiedis, the Chili Peppers formed in 1983. Unabashedly proud of their LA roots, the band burst onto the scene with early singles such as "Higher Ground" and "Give It Away," both showcases of bassist Flea's slappin', funk-fueled basslines.

Throughout the peak of alternative music in the '90s, the band saw tragedy, personnel changes at guitar, and reinventions — Kiedes' rap-singing, Flea's bass grooves, and singalong choruses all constants over the decades.

While many '90s alt-rock acts fizzled, the Chili Peppers stayed relevant; the band boasts two anthemic singles with more than 1 billion streams — "Californication" and "Under the Bridge" — and more than 25 million followers on Spotify.

Expect this show to be packed with Gen Xers and new fans for what promises to be one hot minute.

Red Hot Chili Peppers 2023 tour dates:

  • Wednesday, March 29 – Vancouver – BC Place
  • Saturday, April 1 – Las Vegas – Allegiant Stadium
  • Thursday, April 6 – Fargo, North Dakota – FargoDome
  • Saturday, April 8 – Minneapolis – US Bank Stadium
  • Friday, April 14 – Syracuse, New York – JMA Wireless Dome
  • Friday, May 12 – San Diego – Snap Dragon Stadium
  • Sunday, May 14 – Phoenix – State Farm Stadium
  • Wednesday, May 17 – San Antonio – Alamodome
  • Friday, May 19 – Gulf Shores, Alabama – Hangout Music Festival
  • Thursday, May 25 – Houston – Minute Maid Park

Fan-favorite, wood-fired Houston pizzeria quietly opens in the Heights

enough (pizza) to love

A popular Houston pizzeria has opened its second location in the Heights. The Gypsy Poet has begun a quiet soft opening in the former Fegen’s space at 1050 Studewood St.

Since its 2019 debut in Midtown, the Gypsy Poet has earned a devoted following for its wood-fired pizzas. The restaurant’s personal-sized, 13-inch pizzas exist somewhere on the spectrum between traditional Neapolitan and classic New York — too crispy for the Italians but not quite foldable like an East Coast slice. Options include a classic Margherita and the signature Fancy Backpacker, which is topped with prosciutto, truffle oil, and arugula.

Part of the restaurant’s appeal stems from its friendly service and easy going atmosphere. It regularly hosts informal musical performances and other artistic happenings.

Taken together, Gypsy Poet has earned legions on fans. Yelp users ranked it as Texas’s second best restaurant in 2021. More recently, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy awarded it a high 7.8 rating during a pizza review.

The restaurant opens at a time of transition for pizzerias in the Heights. Dallas-based Neapolitan restaurant Cane Rosso closed last year, and suburban favorite Crust Pizza Co. opened this summer in the former Mellow Mushroom space at N. Shepherd and 20th.

The Heights location of Gypsy Poet will be open Tuesday-Thursday from 5-9 pm; Friday from 12-2 pm and 5-10 pm; Saturday 2-10 pm; and Sunday 2-9 pm.