Taking a look at some chilly, tasty local taco treats
The Santa Clara
November 1, 2018
Combining puppies and ice cream is one of those spur-of-the-moment ideas that seem divine until you consider the practical implications. If you have too much puppy, there might not be any ice cream left to eat. And if you have too much ice cream, how is the puppy supposed to breathe?
Thankfully, Rocko’s Ice Cream Tacos—a delicious ice cream shop about a minute walk from campus—strikes the perfect balance between the two, living up to the jubilant promise of such a wacky combination.
Nestled on the corner of Park Avenue and Locust Street, Rocko’s offers a sweet sight for eyes sored by the rote designs of the dependable Round Table, Safeway and Taco Bell.
Rocko’s’ bright exterior paint, which is accented by a playful teal, recalls the hip malt shops of the 50s, while the modern-looking dog logo—the cherry on top of the restaurant—reminds patrons that this is a decidedly 21st century ice cream parlor.
Originally concocted by Stanford graduate Lori Phillips in 2012, the current brick-and-mortar iteration of Rocko’s represents the culmination of its creator’s vision for a naturally tasty ice cream.
Taking a brief break from her dissertation on immunology, Phillips began experimenting with a waffle iron, producing taco-shaped cones and stuffing them with ice cream. The real innovation occurred when she got the idea to coat the tacos in chocolate sauces and dip them into liquid nitrogen.
The result: a new style of ice cream treat perfect for Instagram—and your tastebuds.
From these experimental beginnings in her home, Phillips began expanding. Adding to the homegrown history of the establishment, she named the business after her rescue dog. One food truck and one Ph.D. later, Phillips opened the physical storefront seen today.
Of course, neither the appealing design elements nor the experimental background matter unless the food on the inside tastes equally delicious. But judging by the copious ice cream stains dotting the sidewalk outside the shop—signs of eager customers—Rocko’s has little to worry about in the flavor department.
Rocko’s boasts an encyclopedic menu of frozen delights—perfect eats for any occasion. The cake pops, s’more tacos and frozen bananas can certainly satisfy any cravings for sweetness, and the more savory items such as the selection of toasts or the belly-warming Matcha tea offer appetizing options for those with hunger on the mind.
Naturally, the most important menu item for Rocko’s Ice Cream Tacos is—unsurprisingly—the actual ice cream taco.
After shelling out $5 for a single taco, you might feel a bit worried when you see the relatively miniature shell. But within moments, the ice cream stuffed into the shell begins spilling past the edges, making the Rocko’s specialty larger than a regular taco.
As a finishing flourish, Rocko’s dips their tacos in the signature liquid nitrogen which hardens the chocolate (or other sauce choice) into a firm shell.
When you finally get your hands on the carefully-made taco, the liquid nitrogen fog still swirls around the ridges formed by the ice cream, contributing to the uniqueness of the experience.
Relying on organic, locally sourced ingredients, Rocko’s provides a fresh taste with every taco, and the bevy of flavors—including old favorites like mint chip and exciting new choices like honey lavender or snickerdoodle and golden plum—ensures the right option for any patron.
As you eat, an eclectic mix of music ranging from today’s hits to doo-wop classics like The Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack” plays from the speakers. An easily accessible bathroom and a selection of free doggie treats only enhance the venue.
Rocko’s seating does feel a bit in flux, with a swath of stools clinging to the walls and only a single bench to provide a sense of permanence to the dining area, but this detail barely detracts from experience.
The stools most likely serve the space (and its numerous occupants) best in the crowded summers.
After five months in a notoriously revolving-door location in the Santa Clara community, Rocko’s Ice Cream Tacos is here to stay.
Rocko’s offers exciting and delicious dessert options for the local community, and we should continue to welcome this fine establishment by treating ourselves to an ice cream taco sometime in the near future. Let’s keep that liquid nitrogen flowing.
Contact Brandon Shcultz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.