If you have family or friends from parts of the country that don’t have the pleasure of experiencing water (or “wudder”) ice firsthand, you may be used to these kinds of questions:
- What exactly is water ice?
- Is it just a weird way of saying “ice water”?
- Is it, like, a 7-Eleven slushy?
- So it’s basically just Italian ice, right?
And then you have to explain that while, yes, it’s similar to Italian ice and, yes, it’s also a little bit like a slushy, it’s far better and more refreshing than both of those things. Most importantly, you’ll only really get it if you try it. So whether you have a friend in town and want to introduce them to Philly’s favorite dessert, or you just need a new spot to add to your growing water ice repertoire, we’ve gathered five of our favorites from around the city.
Siddiq’s makes you feel like you’re on a Jersey Shore boardwalk that just happens to be in the middle of West Philly. The water ice flavors range from classics like lemon and raspberry to specialty flavors like coquito - and as the name suggests, they’re all made with real fruit. They also serve carnival food like funnel cake and cotton candy in addition to water ice, and you can hang out at their umbrella-covered tables to eat it all.
View this post on Instagram
NEW FLAVOR ALERT! 🚨Honeydew Real Fruit Water Ice! Shoutout to Chester legend, former May’s Water Ice, for inspiring this flavor! ** Pull Up in Our Drive-Thru!** • **Only available at our CHESTER location! We’ll see you there!** 720 w 9th Chesterfield Township • • • #Watericeboss #siddiqswaterice #Legend #theMuhammadAliofWaterice #MuhammadAli #FunnelcakeBoss #FortheLoveofChester #Chesterpa #waterice #friedoreos #Delco #honeydew #newflavor #foodie #waterice #halal #chesterfoodie #foodism #chester #Dessert #Mayswaterice #philly #newjersy #frozentreat #Boardwalk #Fun #Food #phillysupportphilly #BlackOwnedBusiness
John’s is a classic. The Italian Market-adjacent spot has been around since 1945, and while the flavors change every so often, they always have their classic lemon, cherry, and chocolate (which are the best flavors, anyway). There’s usually a line, so be prepared to wait a bit especially on hot days.
When people who aren’t from Philly imagine a water ice stand, Jimmy’s is probably what comes to mind. The bare-bones stand in South Philly serves just four things: water ice, soft serve, pretzels, and frozen bananas. The flavors (like lemon, strawberry, and mango) are basic, but just like at a classic South Philly cheesesteak counter, that’s really all you want.
Tranzilli’s in Germantown is perfect (and not just because of their logo that looks like it was made with 1995 Word Art). They do their water ice both by the cup and in gallon “party buckets” - just in case you need enough to feed a small army of children. They usually carry around 30 flavors at a time, and some of our favorites include creamsicle, espresso, and mint chocolate chip.
When Pop’s first opened as a little pushcart in the summer of 1932, a cup of water ice was probably around a few cents. While we wish that were still the case, we’ll settle for the fact that Pop’s is still around mixing up new flavors every week. On top of all the traditional flavors, they also serve ones like iced tea, ginger ale, and banana split.