The cool flavors of Mexico

Hand-made ice creams, fruit bars and more at colorful new shop

Folks line up at the counter for frozen treats at La Flor De Michoacán, like those in this case full of colorful hand-made bars.

Folks line up at the counter for frozen treats at La Flor De Michoacán, like those in this case full of colorful hand-made bars.

PHOTOs by matt siracusa

Open daily, 11 a.m-11 p.m.

La Flor De Michoacan - Chico

1080 W. Sacramento Ave.
Chico, CA 95926

(530) 893-9999

Ice cream, like pizza, is so universally loved it can be argued there are no bad examples. Barring bad ingredients, freshness issues or flavors unsuited to personal taste, it’s hard to find a slice or a cone that isn’t satisfying on some level.

That said, there’s good ice cream and there’s great ice cream. While the humblest frozen novelty can always ensure a few smiles, eating great ice cream is a transcendent experience: sensual, unforgettable, practically religious.

La Flor de Michoacán Palatería y Nevería—opened just months ago in a storefront in the Safeway shopping center at West Sacramento and Nord avenues—makes great ice cream. In an age when most new shops opt for the pump-from-a-wall and pay-by-the-ounce corporate model, La Flor is at once a throwback to the neighborhood soda fountain and, as a Mexican ice cream shop, something entirely new and exotic for Chico.

Stepping inside La Flor is enough to make your mouth water. Artful photos of delicious frozen treats—erotica for ice cream lovers—hang on walls painted in bright pink and peach pastels. More colors explode from behind the glass counters, yards upon yards of homemade liquados (fruit-juice smoothies), ice cream in bin and bar form, and fruit, nut and candy toppings of every hue and texture.

Eating here involves a number of difficult decisions, primarily what to try first—the aguas, the frozen-fruit treats, La Flor’s signature bars, a few scoops of one of their more exotic concoctions. I decided to start simply with a medium-sized sampling of three flavors ($3.75), leading to an even more difficult decision of which flavors to choose.

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This is a quandary at any ice cream shop, compounded here by an eclectic mix of traditional and more exotic flavors. As enticing as the vanilla fudge was, with its veritable sea of thick chocolate goodness swirling into creamy white depths, the allure of trying something unfamiliar like avocado or tequila ice cream was also overpowering. From typical to tropical—rocky road to mango-and-chamoy—everything at La Flor looks beyond delicious.

La Flor’s manager, Alex Nava, said simplicity and traditional techniques are key to La Flor’s flavors, adding that the owner’s family has been making ice cream for generations. Everything is homemade with the most basic ingredients—fresh cream, sugar, fruit and natural flavorings.

Luckily, La Flor’s friendly staff is generous with the sampling spoons, allowing customers to sample several before making a decision. I opted for a mix of my personal standby—mint chocolate chip—with tequila and vanilla y cajeta. The mint was perfect, maybe the best I’ve ever had. The tequila was fantastic, reminiscent of the frothy, salted rim of a good margarita. Cajeta, Nava explained, is similar to caramel but made with goat’s milk rather than cow’s, and is extremely popular in Mexico. It was my favorite.

I sampled plenty of others, some shocking (mango and chamoy packs a spicy, salty bite like Mexican candy), some not as shocking (the avocado is milder and more subtle than you might expect).

I’ve sampled more on subsequent visits and through sharing with my dining companions, like a delicious frozen banana dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut and several of the delectable bars ($1.50). Stopping in for a frozen strawberry drink ($1.75-$2.50 by size) last week instantly changed my perspective of a hot summer day for the better.

In addition to frozen treats, La Flor offers other items I can’t wait to sample, like a churriloco—bits of churro with jicama, cucumber, lime, chamoy sauce mixed into something like a salad ($4.75). They also have Dorilocos and tostilocos, which replace the churro with Doritos or tortilla chips. Also served are chicharrones (a flat of fried pork skin) topped with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, pork rinds, jalapenos, avocado, lime and queso fresco ($4.75).

La Flor de Michoacán is a great place to try new flavors and fall back in love with your old favorites. As they’re open every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., it’s a great destination on a scorching day or sultry night.