Neighborhood Joints

Paletas at La Michoacana in Homestead Are Worth the Trek

Trina Sargalski
The chongos flavored paleta is made of curdled milk and cinnamon.
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 like tuna (cactus), arroz con leche (rice pudding) or mango 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.

Trina Sargalski
Elote (corn) sounds odd, but it's a delightful paleta de crema.
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.

Trina Sargalski
Arroz con leche was a favorite with my group of friends. As one friend said,"What could go wrong with rice pudding on a stick?"

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.

David Samayoa

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.

Despite the

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.

Trina Sargalski
The tequila flavored paleta was tasty, but an odd shade of pink.

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

upcoming post...

David Samayoa
David Samayoa
The grape flavor was nothing special. Tuna or cactus tasted like honeydew melon. You can eat or spit out the seeds, but they are numerous and quite hard.
Trina Sargalski
Trina Sargalski
Chicharrones de harina
Trina Sargalski
Pina con chile had a slightly bitter endnote, but it was refreshing.
Trina Sargalski
Arnulfo Chavez makes the paletas with his brother, Miguel.

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Trina Sargalski