Beat the Heat: Nom Noms in Hot Springs | Rock Candy

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Beat the Heat: Nom Noms in Hot Springs

Posted By on Sun, Jul 7, 2013 at 3:08 PM

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Summertime in Arkansas has always meant trips to the lake for me, and growing up in the Southwest corner of the state, the four-lake powerhouse of DeGray, Ouachita, Catherine, and Hamilton were always my favorites. And while I've probably been swimming and hiking at Ouachita, DeGray, and Catherine the most, I've probably been around Lake Hamilton the most, due solely to the fact that it's part of one of the best summertime towns in the state: Hot Springs. The Spa City straddles a fine line between historical town and kitschy tourist trap, and between the junk stores, dive bars, and natural wonders, a body is bound to get hot and tired when the summer sun gets high in the sky. At this point, your best bet isn't taking a flying leap into the lake, it's getting yourself into the air conditioned interior of Hot Springs' very own artisanal ice cream and ice pop shop: Nom Noms Mexican Grill n' Chill. Nom Noms is stocked with over 50 different flavors of handmade ice cream, and their Nom Bar ice lollies are among the best around. And while we in Little Rock are no strangers to great frozen treats, the unique styles and flavors at Nom Noms makes it worth a trip down to Hot Springs for their cool refreshments alone.

Now for folks like myself, a regular ice cream bar won't do — I need something with a little bit of kick to it. If you're like me, then make your way for one of the restaurant's fruit and chili combinations for a flavor that's a shocking and delicious study in contrast. Based on the flavor of chamoy, a group of sour, sweet, spicy pickled fruit sauces popular in Mexico, these ice bars are electrifying with their assertive flavor and bold texture. I've had these spicy chili concoctions with mango alone, or with mango and pineapple, and the result has been the same every time: a striking paradox of spice and cold, sweet and salty, smooth and chunky. These hot ice bars aren't the only time where Nom Noms will play with sweet and spicy — ice cream flavors like strawberry-jalapeno again push the limits of ice cream into some crazy and compelling places.

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"But Michael," you may be saying, "eating ice cream flavored with hot peppers just doesn't sound like fun to me." Well, you're absolutely crazy (because it's awesome) but Nom Noms has your back. From flavors like carrot cake to cookie dough, the inventive spirit that motivates the place makes for some pretty tasty flavors well within most folks' comfort zones. If, however, you'd like to go a little crazy without ingesting an ice pop that burns your mouth, a great way to do so is the Fruity Pebbles Nom Bar, a cream-based ice lolly that tastes like every college student's favorite dream of making their favorite bowl of cereal into a mobile, hand-held sugar delivery system. Fred Flintstone's signature cereal is encased in a flavorful vanilla base, and while the result is far too sweet for me, my wife thought it was one of the best things she'd ever eaten.

No matter which way you go with Nom Noms, the fresh ingredients and quality workmanship is sure to deliver you a tasty treat. And while the ice creams are excellent and worth eating a pile of, it's those Nom Bars that keep me coming back time and time again. I keep seeing flavors every time I'm there (like Nutella Brownie) that have me planning my next trip to the frozen delicacy joint before I've even taken my first bite. And if you're more of a "dessert only after a meal" type person, the grill side of Nom Noms stands ready to get some great hot food inside of you before you dive into their various frozen delights.

Nom Noms Mexican Grill n' Chill is located at 3371 Central Avenue in Hot Springs. It's a locally owned place, proving once again that folks in Arkansas have got skills. My three favorite frozen treat places in the world are all local Arkansas joints, and Nom Noms joins Loblolly Creamery and Le Pops as tops for the cold stuff in Arkansas.

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