Best Thing I Ever Ate: Chilled Perfection

A regular on my TiVo circuit is Food Network's "Best Thing I Ever Ate." Basically, famous chefs and food industry folk – think Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay and Ina Garten – share where they eat when they're not in their own (professional or home) kitchens. I don't know about you, but I find it fascinating to hear where some of my favorite foodies love to eat, especially when it's somewhere I've been and even more so when the meal is something I've actually HAD.

When this happens, watch out. Leave it to me to yell excitedly at my husband and then at the TV: "Honey, honey, honey! I've totally had that, too! S/he's right, that [appetizer, entree or dessert] is amazing!" Bryan just smiles and nods and goes back to whatever he's doing, knowing my food freak out is almost over. :)

The other night the "Best Thing I Ever Ate" theme was Chilled Perfection (they're taking a lot of liberties as it's pretty much anything served cold) and I immediately thought of my childhood-turned-adult favorite: The Balboa bar (and frozen banana!) at Dad's Donut Shop in Newport Beach, CA.

Dad's Donut Shop
Photo courtesy of TheSugarMagnolia

The famous Balboa Bar
Photo courtesy of OhHeyGreat

Perhaps I'm biased – I spent every childhood summer at my grandparents' house on Balboa Island – but this is the most simple yet delicious snack I can remember. Break it down and the individual parts are nothing special: a rectangle of ice cream dipped into a vat of Dad's version of melted chocolate shell. Oh, and it's on a stick, upping the fun quotient. Before the chocolate can freeze to the block of ice cream, the Newport teenager working their summer job behind the counter rolls it in your choice of toppings: chopped nuts, crushed Oreos, rainbow and chocolate sprinkles, toffee and an "everything" option.

Balboa Bar Toppings
Photo courtesy of Yelp

You could get all fancy-schmancy about it, noting the ice cream's creaminess, the crunch of the nuts, etc. But that's a bunch of crap: this thing is just GREAT. Ice cream, chocolate and toppings on a stick. How can you go wrong??

Especially since it's the Balboa Island experience that makes it amazing. You order from a small window in the front of the shop and, if you're like me at age 12, you've run straight from the beach. Barefoot, wearing nothing your bathing suit and covered in sand. The sidewalk is hot beneath your feet and as the sun beats down on your prized Balboa Bar, you realize you only have a few moments before your precious starts to melt and fall apart. Sometimes that's the best part, balancing eating the ice cream off the stick and picking up chunks of chocolate "shell" out of the hot dog-esque cardboard boat.

The "Everything" Balboa Bar
Photo courtesy of Yelp

Then comes the frozen banana: you pick a small, medium, large or extra-large banana that's been frozen on a wooden stick. They dip it in the chocolate shell and once again, roll it in the topping wonderland. The banana lasts a lot longer than the Balboa Bar, mostly because the frozen banana practically demands a few moments of open-air defrost before it will let you bite into it. But it's no less delicious, especially if you're a banana person.

The "Everything" Frozen Banana
Photo courtesy of Yelp

Dad's Donut & Bakery Shop
318 Marine Ave
Newport Beach, CA 92662
(949) 673-8686


  1. I'm also OBSESSED with the best thing I ever ate. Immediately after the "Cheesy" episode I ran out to Angelini Osteria and had the Meat Lasagne - it's not to be missed!!!

  2. As a child living in Newport Beach, I cherished trips on the Balboa ferry that included a stop to get Balboa Bars!! You just jogged my memory with this blog! I'm in the OC this weekend, and may just have to cruise by before I leave!

  3. I think we can share more initiatives like this one more often. I've got a similar post and I know a lot of recipes that you'll like it.

  4. My mom works there ! Whenever i go there the my mom's best friend (the owner) always offers me yummy donuts, ice cream, etc.. :)


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