Cool It

Go Au Naturel at Mr. Natural Refresqueria

Fresh fruit on ice is the star at this Spring Branch hot spot.

By Katharine Shilcutt August 26, 2015

Screen shot 2015 08 26 at 11.27.13 am qzitnr

Clockwise from top left: coconut (our favorite), pineapple, strawberry, mango.

There were doubts it would happen, but yesterday afternoon's thunderstorms proved the rumors true: a cool front finally came through after weeks of record-breaking high temperatures. But the cool-down was only temporary—a brief, frustrating glimpse of far-away fall—as temps have already started to climb back up to the upper 90s.

This weekend's searing sunny weather has an upside, at least: it's the ideal climate in which to enjoy a fresh fruit raspa from Mr. Natural Refresqueria, the snocone stand in Spring Branch that's been a neighborhood fixture for decades. You may wonder why people flock to the hot asphalt parking lot here and wait for a not-insignificant amount of time in the scorching sun before finally handing over a sweaty wad of cash through a tiny window in the side of what used to be a mid-century home on Hazelhurst, just off Gessner.

The answer is simple: lots of ice, saturated with fresh fruit juice and topped with a few chunks of what remains after the Mr. Natural team juices the rest of the mangos, strawberries, pineapples or whichever flavor you ordered. These raspas are not mere snocones, the ice drenched in a sugar-water syrup that more closely resembles what you'd pour into a hummingbird feeder. That simply wouldn't live up to the Mr. Natural name.

As such, the freshly juiced, all-natural raspas here take a little while to make, so come prepared to wait it out. It's all worth it, however, for that moment when the little bell at the window dings, your name is called and your order is handed through the small opening. From inside Mr. Natural, a blend of scents borne on crisp, cool air greets you: first, the clean air of bleach, like the chlorine smell wafting off the cold waters of your neighborhood pool; then, the heady fragrance of a dozen different kinds of fruit, from tropical coconut (the best of the flavors) to tart tamarind. All memories of your long wait in the blazing sun will begin to dissipate in that cold blast of air, banished even further when you take your first icy, juicy bite.

Mr. Natural, 10046 Hazelhurst Dr.


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