Though I hadn’t visited in some time, I wasn’t sure what to expect at El Oasis after a pandemic. Thankfully, I found El Oasis just how I remembered it — though maybe just a bit brighter with new paint. Their menu also grew over the past few years.


Outside of El Oasis with two sets of tables and chairs around them. Photo by Matthew Macomber.Photo by Matthew Macomber.

For anyone who hasn’t visited this Urbana hidden gem behind the Walgreens on University and Cunningham, El Oasis serves homemade Mexican ice cream and other popular Mexican treats and foods.

A display case of water-based ice cream with mango, spicy mango, spicy tamarind, and spicy pineapple seen most clearly. Photo by Matthew Macomber.Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Look at the checkout counter for snacks such as spicy tamarind and dried grasshoppers (for the adventurous). However, this visit I focused on the cold treats at El Oasis, with one exception.

A cup of Gancito ice cream on an outdoor table at El Oasis. Photo by Matthew Macomber.Photo by Matthew Macomber.

To begin, I ordered a dairy-based Gancito ice cream ($3.99 small). Gancito is a popular Mexican snack that is a chocolate-covered cake filled with strawberry jelly and cream. It’s easy to see why it is well liked. When mixed into homemade vanilla ice cream, it only gets better. This combination was fantastic and a must try for anyone who likes chocolate and strawberry ice cream.

A cup of spicy mango ice cream on an outdoor table at El Oasis. Photo by Matthew Macomber.Photo by Matthew Macomber.

For those wanting to stay away from dairy, El Oasis also serves dairy-free, water-based ice cream. As an example, I tried some of their spicy mango ($3.99 small). Though not overwhelming, the heat kicked into a higher gear with every bite I took. The blend of sweet and spicy was quite nice, though I’m not sure if I could’ve handled anything larger than a small.

A mango smoothie on an outdoor table at El Oasis. Photo by Matthew Macomber.Photo by Matthew Macomber.

For a refreshing change of pace, I drank a mango smoothie ($6.50). Cool without too much ice —and no spicy kick, this was a great choice for a hot day of which we’ve had many of recently. Next time, I think I’ll try their sandia (watermelon) smoothie as I still have a great memory of drinking watermelon juice on a hot summer day several years ago. I imagine a watermelon smoothie would be just as nice as this mango one, if not better.

A concha con Nutella sandwich on an outdoor table at El Oasis with strawberries and whipped cream on top. Photo by Matthew Macomber.Photo by Matthew Macomber.

For something more substantial, I enjoyed a concha con Nutella ($6.50). Two pieces of concha bread, sweet bread from Mexico, held together this Nutella, strawberry, and frosting sandwich. Though very sweet, I still ate the entire thing at once. I enjoyed how the juicy strawberries balanced out the thick Nutella and frosting. The sweet bread was also quite dense, so the whipped cream and strawberries paired well in that way as well. If you want to try something new, buy a concha con Nutella.

A white board menu of El Oasis with prices ranging from $3.99 to $10.50. Photo by Matthew Macomber.Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Those were only a small taste of the desserts that awaited me at El Oasis.

A display case of dairy-based ice cream with Oreo, Gancito, and Oreo mint ice cream seen most clearly. Photo by Matthew Macomber.Photo by Matthew Macomber.

They have more than twenty flavors of ice cream, a counter full of snacks, warm food, and even weekend specials. Make the effort to visit after lunch or dinner, and don’t be afraid to try something new. The shop lets you sample their ice creams, so it’s hard to go wrong. El Oasis has lots of variety, making plenty of reasons to keep going back.

El Oasis
510 N Cunningham Ave
Urbana
noon to 9 p.m., daily

Top image by Matthew Macomber.