If you have a sweet tooth and need to feed your sugar cravings, you will find a scoop of confection heaven at Whihala Ice Cream in Whiting, Indiana. The decadent menu includes soft serve treats, homemade ice cream, slushies, funnel cakes, paletas, cajeta, and other Mexican specialties.
“We are best known for our homemade ice cream,” said Otilia Alvarez, who owns the shop with husband Jesus. “We have more than 34 flavors. People come from many different cities and states to try our homemade ice cream. Some of our clients’ favorite ice cream flavors are pistachio, butter pecan, cookies and cream, cherry, and coconut.”
Originally opened as an ice cream shop in 2012 by the Alvarezs’ friend, the couple bought the shop in 2016 and continued on with the tradition.
“My husband’s family owned several ice cream shops in Mexico,” Alvarez said. “Jesus had worked in the family business for more than 25 years. He always wanted to open an ice cream shop in Whiting. When the opportunity came, he was very happy that he was able to start making his dream come true.”
Conveniently located at 1709 119th Street, Whihala Ice Cream is across the street from Oil City Stadium, a short walk from the Mascot Hall of Fame, and near the entrance to Whiting Lakefront Park. At the park, Whihala Beach provides a setting of sand in contrast to Northwest Indiana’s industrial area with the Chicago skyline off in the background.
“Our little shop is a seasonal business; we open and close it depending on the weather,” Alvarez said. “Sometimes we might open in April, other years it might be in March, but usually it is open April through October.”
Alvarez said that the couple likes the location because of its proximity to the park and the beach and many of the customers like to walk to the park and stop by the shop for a treat.
“We offer homemade ice cream made from natural fruit,” said Alvarez. “We would like everyone to know that we make all of our own ice cream in-house. The recipes that we use have been passed down through our family for generations.”
Those recipes feature frozen concoctions such as custard, frappes, and Mexican specialties such as cajeta and paletas. Cajeta is a sweet caramel ice cream, similar to dulce de leche, yet more milky and silky and with a slightly nutty flavor. A paleta is a frozen bar made from a combination of fresh natural fruits such as mango or strawberry and creamy milk ingredients such as chocolate.
“We also have specialty sundaes, which are best sellers, including a Snickers sundae, hot fudge brownie sundae, Reese’s sundae, churro sundae and a ‘turtle’ sundae,” Alvarez said. “We have a variety of shakes: cookies and cream, strawberry banana, mint chocolate chip, double chocolate fudge. We also have pineapple whip and flavor burst available.”
For those who prefer a savory snack, Whihala Ice Cream also serves up nachos with cheese, funnel cakes, and elotes–a Mexican style corn on the cob with cheese, sour cream, and spices.
Although this spot is best known for its frozen treats, it is equally known for its great service and friendly staff.
To find out store hours, daily and weekly specials, visit Whihala Ice Cream on Facebook.