Bored of ice cream? Cool off with these exotic treats on International Avenue

If your 58th ice cream of the summer isn’t really cutting it anymore, it might be time to try something new.

A trip east of Deerfoot Trail promises alternative hot weather treats to keep cool

All sorts of unusual drinks and dishes can be found on International Avenue to help take the heat out of a hot summer day. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

If your 58th ice cream of the summer isn't really cutting it anymore, it might be time to try something new.

On a hot summer day, businesses on International Avenue, with its dizzying array of ethnically diverse shops and food joints, may have what you need to keep cool.

Here are just a few hot weather treats you can find east of the Deerfoot:

Halo-halo, Pacific Hut

This dishes is topped with creamed corn before serving and includes all kinds of fruits. It was created in the 1920s in Manila. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

Halo-halo is a popular Filipino dessert bowl: a crazy concoction of ice, condensed milk, coloured fruits, corn, bananas, ice cream — you name it, it's probably in there. It's best compared to a shaved ice cream sundae with a tropical twist.

"It's very good during summer days," said Dina Cantal.

"Especially Filipinos, they know this, this is one of the best in the Philippines. It has very sunny weather there," said Cantal.

Literally everyone in the restaurant was having one or waiting for one. The halo-halo has to be seen to be believed.

Dina Cantal at Pacific Hut restaurant says halo-halo is their most popular summer dish, offering a great cool down experience when summer temperatures become too much. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

South Indian buttermilk, Supreme Dosa

South Indian buttermilk is a great cooling drink packed with Indian spices. It’s popular in South Indian and Sri Lankan communities. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

This South Indian summer drink is the perfect way to cool down your body, according to chef Manivannan Ponnuvelu.

This thin, dairy-based drink includes ginger, cilantro, cumin seeds, salt, sugar and curry leaf and ice.

"It's what they use in India for the summertime," said Ponnuvelu. "We give to neighbours and it cools you down and prevents dehydration."

The chilled drink is topped with cumin powder.

Manivannan Ponnuvelu, owner of Supreme Dosa, says buttermilk is a great social summer drink and is known for its rehydration properties. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

Sago at gulaman, Adobo Experience

The black syrup that’s poured over this iced drink is made from brown sugar, pandan leaves and banana essence. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

If sweet and refreshing is your thing on a hot day, a glass of cold, black sago at gulman might be for you. This is a Filipino street food.

It's similar to a bubble tea, made with crushed ice, crushed grass jelly chunks and a darkly syrup made with brown sugar, pandan leaves and banana essence. 

"In the Philippines, 37 degrees is normal weather," said Jeffrey Angeles.

"It's a tropical country and most of the time people are looking for something they can just grab in the street and drink it," said Angeles.

Jeffrey Angeles holds up a freshly made sago't gulaman at his Adobo Experience restaurant on International Avenue in Forest Lawn. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

East African fruit smoothies, TG Juice Bar & Breakfast

Piles of fruit top the counters at TG Juice in Forest Lawn. It’s a popular haunt for East Africans in Calgary and boasts a long list of thick, iced fruit smoothies. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

The most accessible drink on the list still hits the spot on a hot day.

Tigist Loke's big seller is fruit smoothies, super-thick and using simple ingredients.

"It's fresh and cold and nice, and when you have it you feel good," said Loke, who is originally from Ethiopia.

Some smoothies are poured in layers, including avocado and mango chilled with ice. The blenders at her store are working non-stop right now.

Tigist Loke moved to Calgary from Ethiopia. She makes fruit smoothies and coffee at her TG Juice. Mangoes are a summer favourite here. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)


Dan McGarvey


Dan McGarvey is a mobile journalist focused on filing stories remotely for CBC Calgary’s web, radio, TV and social media platforms, using just an iPhone and mobile tech. His work is used by mobile journalism (mojo) trainers and educators around the world. Dan is largely focused on under-reported communities and issues in Calgary and southern Alberta. You can email story ideas and tips to Dan at