From the fiery New Mexican cuisine of Los Dos Molinos down by Dobbins Road to the incendiary salsa bar at Kiss Pollos in the Harmon Park neighborhood, the South Central corridor is a street full of spicy food. To offer some relief from the heat, both the kind found in chilies and the hot weather that dominates Phoenix half the year, ice cream and fresh fruit seem like some of the best options. Oasis Raspados offers both, along with some savory snacks, in a colorful and comfortable location in South Phoenix at the corner of Central and St. Charles avenues.
Oasis is found inside a former house decorated with colorful cartoon animals in polar settings. The location is at the edge of a verdant residential neighborhood halfway between the planned Baseline/Central and Southern/Central stations on the South Central light rail extension currently under construction.The location makes sense because Oasis seems like the perfect place to walk or ride a bike to on a sunny afternoon. While Oasis does not have a bike rack, the patio offers plenty of places to park a bicycle and to enjoy a view of a mural across the street.
Oasis’ indoor seating is currently closed, but under ordinary conditions, there are also some tables and chairs available there. At the counter, tubs of Thrifty ice cream are on the left with fresh fruit to the right. While it is possible to order just a scoop or two of ice cream in a cup or cone, the signature treat here is found in the shop’s name. Raspados involve a mixture of shaved ice and chunks of fruit like mango or pineapple. Obispos combine those two ingredients with ice cream. Omit the shaved ice, leaving just ice cream and fresh fruit, the result is a nieve.
All three of those treats can be ordered in small, medium, large, or jumbo sizes. The larger sizes, like many of the sweet on the menu, seem optimal for sharing so they can be consumed before they melt. In addition to the trinity of raspados, obispos, and nieves, there are smoothies, sundaes, and even a decadent banana split. Fresas con crema layers fresh strawberries with cream and crunchy granola for contrasting textures and complementary flavors. An escamocha takes that mixture to the next level with a larger array of assorted fruit pieces in cream.
For fruit flavor undiluted by dairy, a mangonada or mango loco is worth exploring. While both involve the hugely popular tropical fruit, the former uses a puree while the latter relies on fresh chunks. In both cases, the sweetness of the fruit is contrasted with the tartness of chamoy sauce and lime juice and the tanginess of a tamarind stick. Japanese peanuts, coated in flour and fried, add a bit of nutty taste and crunch to the finished product. Moving away from sweetness entirely, the peanuts can also be combined with cucumbers and spices.
Snack foods based on small bags of Tostitos brand chips are often found at raspado shops, and Oasis is no exception. Tostilocos involves a bed of chips, served right in the bag with the top cut open, topped with cucumber, cabbage, chamoy, and chili powder. Tosti elote is a similar concept in which a layer of roasted, seasoned corn is placed over the chips. With its festive decor and fruity flavors well matched to some of the spicier entrees and salsas found along Central Avenue, Oasis lives up to its name by offering both sweet and savory relief in South Phoenix.
6629 S. Central Ave., Phoenix AZ 85042
Baseline/Central and Baseline/Southern stations (under construction)