Ice cream
Arizona's Best Sweets: Tucson

Eat & Drink

Arizona's Best Sweets: Tucson

From mint-chocolate shakes to icy raspados, Arizona has plenty of reasons to eat dessert first. Here, we round up some of the best sweets in Tucson.

From mint-chocolate shakes to icy raspados featured on the Travel Channel, Arizona has plenty of reasons to eat dessert first. Here, we round up some of the best sweets in Tucson. Also be sure to check out our stories about the Best Sweets in Phoenix and the Best Sweets in Flagstaff.

Chocolate Iguana Shake at Chocolate Iguana on Fourth

Situated on one of Tucson's most popular streets, Chocolate Iguana has been a mainstay of the Fourth Avenue scene for nearly three decades. With their recent move to a new location, also on Fourth, the shop continues its legacy of offering award-winning espresso drinks, made-from-scratch scones and chocolates and candies sourced from around the world.

When you're here, you have to try the namesake drink. The Chocolate Iguana is a double café mocha with a hearty scoop of mint ice cream, chocolate-swirled whipped cream, and an edible chocolate "tail."

Prickly Pear Tamarindo Paleta at HUB Ice Cream Factory

The paleta, an icy Mexican treat perfect for Arizona's warm summer temps, is similar to a popsicle. Except better. These ice pops are made with fresh fruit and sometimes cream, chocolate, coffee or other flavors. At HUB Ice Cream Factory, the Prickly Pear Tamarindo Paleta dipped in tajín and chamoy is a local favorite.

Retro-hip HUB opened as a response to customer enthusiasm for the house-made desserts at HUB Restaurant. Loyalists love pastry chef Dominique Stoller's tempting selections of floats, sundaes and whoopie pies. But don't forget about the ice cream – HUB boasts 300 rotating flavors, all inspired by Tucson.

Bubble Waffles at Isabella's Ice Cream

Don't let the Model T-inspired ice cream trucks fool you. The sweet goodies at Isabella's embrace the trends of today. Choose from a rotating selection of ice cream flavors and vegan sorbets, as well as favorites like floats made with natural syrups.

Then there are the Bubble Waffles. This cross between Belgian waffles and crunchy waffle cones comes topped with your choice of ice cream and sweet, gooey sauces.

Sweet Cream Honeycomb at The Screamery

At The Screamery, owners Ken and Linda Sarnoski churn out cool scoops of natural ice cream in flavors like the perennially popular Sweet Cream Honeycomb, which is crafted with local honey and milk from grass-fed cows. Elevate your scoop with an order of Ice Cream Nachos. The dish puts a sweet spin on the savory snack with waffle-cone chips, hot fudge instead of cheese, and a scoop of ice cream.

The Sarnoskis also pasteurize their own ice cream, which allows them to infuse their sometimes traditional, sometimes quirky flavors directly into the ice cream base.

Mangoyada Raspado at Sonoran Sno-Cones

Consisting of fruit juices, shaved ice and a splash of condensed milk, the raspados at Sonoran Sno-Cones are so vibrant, regular popsicles pale by comparison. "Everyone should try our Mangoyada," owner Mia Robles says. "It was featured on Travel Channel's 'Delicious Destinations,' and it has shaved ice, fresh mango, chamoy and fresh lime. It's the perfect combination of sweet, sour and spicy – just like Mexican candy."

Other ways to enjoy a raspado: Pair any two flavors (like mango and strawberry or pineapple and coconut), and have it over shaved ice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk, or dulce de leche.

About the Author

Elizabeth Exline

Elizabeth Exline is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in local and national publications. She believes frequent stops for food is the best way to survive a road trip. Find more of her work at