Paletas La Michoacana is a hidden gem in downtown Homestead (344 Washington Avenue, Homestead). It's been there since 1999, selling mostly ice pops (paletas
) and ice cream (nieves
). You can get the traditional flavors of chocolate and vanilla, but the real fun is sampling varietes liketuna
(cactus),arroz con leche
(rice pudding) ormango con chile
There are two varieties: paletas de agua (water-based for $1.50) and paletas de crema (milk/cream based for $2). I prefer paletas de agua because the fruit flavors are bright and clear. Some of my favorites are jamaica, with a tart, tangy hibiscus flavor. Tamarind also has a potent sweet and sour taste. Mango con chile is fruit with bite, just like the street snack.
One of my
favorite paletas de crema so far is elote (corn). Corn had a star moment on menus this summer, but this flavor has been a
paleteria staple for a while. It tastes like a sweet, creamy corn
pudding. I also love arroz con leche, which is cinnamon tinged and not
too cloyingly sweet.
The tequila flavor is unusual, but appealing. Arnulfo Chavez,one of the brothers who makes the paletas, says
they don't cook off the alcohol (Jose Cuervo). The oddly pink ice pop
is subtle in flavor, with a bit of alcoholic warmth, but it's nothing
that will get you drunk. We were intrigued by the curdled milk and
cinnamon flavored chongos, but it was almost tasteless.
can find many of the same flavors in the ice cream section. I like to
eat a paleta or two and then buy a half-liter container of ice
cream ($5) to enjoy at home. A small cup of ice cream costs $2.75
and there are all of the usual toppings of sprinkles, chocolate fudge,
and nuts. La Michoacana also sells aguas frescas (sugar/water drinks
made with fruits, seeds, or cereals), raspados (syrupy shaved
ice-$2.50), elote (corn-$1.50-$2.50), nachos ($2.25) and chicharron
preparado, which is a street snack of deep fried tortilla with toppings
like cabbage, salsa, and cheese ($3.50). This is not the deep fried
pork chicharron that is more familiar in Miami.
décor at La Michoacana evokes your standard ice cream parlor, but amped
up in loud Technicolor. Psychedelic salmon-colored walls are covered with menu signage and dated-looking
photos of fruit and ice cream. Bright yellow counters surround a
seating area with small silver tables, tiled in yellow and gray
checkered linoleum. Combine this with the colorful ice creams and
popsicles, and it is one eye-popping place.
There are also
several signs in Spanish advising customers not to confuse business with
friendship: "Si no le alcanza, no lo pida. No diga: Luego de traigo,
por que se olvida." (If you don't have the money, don't order it. Don't
say you'll pay later, because you'll forget.) Apparently, their
friends were getting too used to hand outs.
signs, the staff is friendly and solicitous. They are happy to answer
questions about any of the flavors you are curious about. Brothers
Arnulfo and Miguel Chavez make the paletas. You can also
find them behind the cash register. They say they don't even know how
many paletas they make in a week--it depends on the current supply.
Miguel says their most popular flavors are vanilla, strawberry, nuez
(walnut), chocolate, coconut, and nance. Nance is small yellow-orange
fruit commonly eaten throughout Mexico and Central America. The nance
ice cream was very sweet and reminiscent of pumpkin custard or canistel.
most recent visit was on a typical South Florida afternoon--muggy and
rainy. The TVs were blasting a campy old La India Maria movie, as
the staff and customers watched along, laughing at her slapstick antics. It felt friendly and comfortable. If you're going to trek to Homestead (and for me it is a trek),
you may as well linger and enjoy as many of the flavors as you can.
store is independently owned by Jesus Miguel Andrade Fernandez from
Michoacan. Because there are so many "La Michoacana" paleterias around
the country and in Mexico, it seemed like this store might be part of a chain, but
it's not. More on the "open-source" style paleteria business in an