Passport, airfare not requiredBy David Seymour, with Joel Barrett | Photography by Peter Ringenberg Los 3 Mangos de Michoacán
2102 W Western Avenue
South Bend, Indiana
Succulent green foliage illuminated by a blazing sun. Perfect waves in crystal clear bodies of water. Trees and market stands showing off their colorful bounties of comestible goodness.
Now that I have your attention… Make at least one local stop before planning your long-awaited escape from yet another never-ending Midwest winter. South Bend’s new Mexican ice cream shop, Los 3 Mangos de Michoacán is well worth a visit. Aptly named for a state in Western Mexico that produces the magically delicious fruit, this fabulous ice cream parlor has more than meets the eye.
On our first visit, bright lights and warm glows of color greeted Joel and me as we approached the storefront, conveniently located a few moments from downtown in the Western Avenue corridor. Not knowing what to expect, we quickly surveyed the landscape—with me in the lead because of my Spanish skills. Our steps led us down a colorful aisle of familiar and foreign flavors, with different textures and fun words for Joel to try out with varying degrees of accuracy. On another side, a variety of freshly chopped tropical fruits made sure we noticed their availability. Above the sweet bounty is a colorful “roadmap” of a menu, with pictures to give direction and suggest points of interest, regardless of your Spanish proficiency.
After a delightful charla (chat) with the shop’s attendant, Carolina, we decided on the Mangollada, a colorful delicacy made with two scoops of nieve de mango (mango shaved ice), chile chamoy (a spicy-sweet sauce), freshly chopped mango and a few dashes of tajín (a dry seasoning made of chile peppers, limeand salt). Being a bit cautious about the spice level, we opted for one scoop of regular nieve de mango and another of mango con chile (spicy mango). (Substitutions and sample requests are welcomed with open arms and full spoons.)
Love. At. First. Bite! This best describes the layers of flavor we encountered. Refreshingly sweet with a nice kick to awaken but not offend the senses. Much lighter than traditional desserts, made with fresh, natural juices and ingredients—we were smiling from the inside out. Like a perfect guide, Carolina checked in with us to see if we agreed with her recommendation. The smiles on our faces said it all—and we were ready to see what was next on the itinerary.
On the ice cream stop, we sampled exotic wonders like cajeta (goat’s milk caramel ice cream), tequila (yes!), queso (cotija cheese), chongo zamorano (cottage cheese with vanilla and cinnamon). More familiar but equally delicious favorites like fresa (strawberry) and piña (pineapple) are also available and made with fresh and mostly local ingredients. Since this was a short trip—and we wanted to make it last—we decided to take some paletas (popsicles) de nanche (a small, sweet yellow fruit), tequila (yes, again!), ciruela (plum), fresa, mixed fruit, guava and coco (coconut chunks) to go. In future visits, we’ll sample the smoothies, shakes, grilled tortas (Mexican sandwiches) and other traditional Mexican snack foods.
You won’t be alone on this trip. We saw locals of all backgrounds during both visits. Everyone was welcomed like old neighborhood friends in search of a sweet escape. A bit of paradise is always good for the soul, and Los 3 Mangos de Michoacán has been serving it up with a smile for the past year.