During the summer months, Upper Manhattan is crawling with shaved ice carts, but possibly the most charming can be found on a quiet corner of Amsterdam Avenue near 160th Street in Washington Heights.
There sits an old-timer named Jose selling frio frios–that's their Dominican name; in Puerto Rico they're known as piraguas. He makes them from a repurposed shopping cart hand-painted with childlike drawings of the icy treats coupled with the phrase "Que rico frio frio" (or "Frio frio is so delicious").
There's something magnetic about the cart's unstudied graphics, painted in shades of yellow, black and blue. The rows of bright syrups and stacks of colorful plastic cups only add to the eye-catching jumble.
Order a frio frio and Jose will quickly get to work shaving ice from a glistening block hidden under a towel. Pick your flavor–cherry, lemon, and tamarind to name just a few–and watch him douse the freshly-made ice cone with your syrup of choice.
Jose clearly has an appreciation for color, topping each frio frio with a neon-hued straw redolent of summer.
Ice-cold and syrupy sweet, it's the perfect way to cool down on a hot summer afternoon.