Hansen’s was started in 1939 by Ernest Hansen, who engineered a loud, homemade machine that shaves the ice to a fineness that many argue is unmatched across the city. (Oh, and they will argue.) The shop is still run with considerable care and attention by Ernest’s granddaughter, Ashley. Snowballs—cups of thinly shaved ice topped with brightly colored sweet flavorings—are a minor obsession in New Orleans. While widely available, snowballs, as well as the culture that surrounds them, seem more advanced at Hansen’s. The selection of flavors is vast, and true connoisseurs mix and match flavors, adding two or three to an order to get just the right balance. (Almond-lime? Orange-coconut?)
Devoured specialty snowballs
Hansen’s is the best snowball stand in New Orleans. They won a James Beard award in 2014. In operation since 1939, their motto is “There are no shortcuts to quality,” and it definitely shows in their unique flavors. My favorite is satsuma (which also happens to be Emeril Lagasse’s favorite). They have special flavors weekly, including Bananas Foster, Grapefruit Basil, and others using local ingredients.