Looking to survive the heat in Philly this summer? Fortunately, you live in a city famous for water ice—or flavored shaved ice, more authentically pronounced “wooder” ice. Did I get that right?
First off, we know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t all ice made of water?” Turns out, apparently no. Philly is special. So, silence your inner skeptic, make sure not to call it snow cone, and try out these three classic water ice shops.
701 Christian Street
Founded in 1945, John’s Water Ice ranks supreme among locals for its authenticity. The single-story brick store on 7th and Christian, looks straight out of your grandparents’ childhood stories. The only giveaway that you’re not in the 40s is the wall of pictures of past presidents and celebrities enjoying the Philly classic. Priding itself on an all-natural recipe devoid of artificial sweeteners, John’s Water Ice only offers four flavors — cherry, chocolate, pineapple, and lemon.
Many locations around Philadelphia, including 1511 Spruce Street
A Philadelphia favorite, Rita’s opened in 1984 in South Philly, and quickly spread all across the city. Today, Rita’s has over 600 locations across the US. Typically served in tall paper cups, Rita’s offers dozens of flavors, including Swedish Fish and Piña Colada. Rita's also offers old fashioned custard in their stores, to be eaten alone or paired with their ices in all sorts of creative, creamy combos.
2235 W Passyunk Ave
Continuing the trend of single name shops, you should really try out Dati’s if you ever find yourself in South Philly around 22nd and Passyunk. Famous for its water ice, Dati’s serves a variety of other snacks including pretzels and banana splits, covered with whip cream and chocolate sauce.
5901 Belfield Ave, Philadelphia, PA
If you're looking for a Pennsylvania–based snack, look no further. It's a bit of a hike—Tanzilli's is based in Germantown, PA—but for authentic, old–school water ice, there's nothing better. Tanzilli's menu boasts classics like cherry and lemon, but also has cappuccino and mocha if coffee's more your thing.