“Umm, how do you say ‘What’s that?’ In Spanish?” We stand before a long waist-high freezer cabinet with the afternoon sun on our backs, my friend and I pointing at the tubs of bright, colorful ice cream inside. “Que sabor es?. . .” I answer. We are handed two tiny spoons. “Queso” answers the girl serving us samples. “Cheese?” says my friend, with a look that says ‘maybe I don’t want to try this’. Cold and with a texture almost chewy, I down the little spoonful and turn to my friend. “Cheese cake.” “Oh yeah” he says, “what a nice surprise.”
A lot of things are surprising and different, yet familiar too at La Michoacana, the chain of ice cream stores found throughout Mexico, and one of the first and most successful franchises to come from that country. Like a lot of places in the U.S., you can stare through the glass at the tubs of ice cream, have a sample and get a cone or cup. But at La Michoacana you can also get great paletas. Basically popsicles, flavors run from the familiar (pistachio, coconut) to the unusual (butter? chicle? They’re actually good). Licuados too, big styrofoam cups of sweet fruit flavored drinks full of ice, and chunks of fruit. Stuff for a sunny afternoon.
There are a few around town, but the main Michoacana is in El Centro, on Blvd. Melchor Ocampo. Open till 9pm (ish!).