Some wear esquites topped with mayonnaise and powdered cheese. Others contain fresh fruit, watermelon, mango and more, often sprinkled with drops of lime juice and chili powder.
On hot summer days, one type of cart is particularly popular with the public. The category: nieves de garrafa (churned ice cream made in a pot). Essential in Mexican cuisine, what distinguishes this type of artisanal ice cream from others is the manufacturing process.
Taking a wooden tub with ice cubes and salt as a base, dedicated ice cream makers place a metal tub inside where the ingredients are mixed by hand for almost an hour until they be crystallized into an icy treat. A true Mexican culinary gem praised by people of Latin descent for the work and flavor behind it.
Now, San Diegan residents won’t have to travel far to satisfy their cravings for nieve de garrafa.
Instead of going to Jalisco, they can go to Bonita, where Sadie’s Artisan Mexican Ice Cream offers a rainbow of Mexican-inspired ice cream flavors.
Named after his 10-year-old daughter for their shared love of dining and cooking, this new project in April by San Diego restaurateur Emilio Tamez.
He has three other daughters, but he says Sadie is the one who wants to be a chef when she grows up. Her boutique logo was inspired by Sadie’s side profile silhouette, making the hair bows “she wears to the breakfast table every day” a key detail in the candy pink design.
“She has a unique personality and she loves to eat,” Tamez said of Sadie. “We could eat anywhere in the world. We both love food.
Tamez is also the parent of a taco shop called Taquería Revolución, which has two locations in San Diego. Sadie’s is neighbor to the Bonita location, just off I-805 near Westfield Plaza Bonita.
He says the inspiration behind Sadie is like that of Revolución. He saw a lack of authentic Mexican food – in this case, ice cream – and decided to do something “different”.
“There was no good place for Mexican ice cream,” Tamez said. “I wanted something that we Mexicans could be proud of, to represent that type of Mexican ice cream.”
With help from design firm PGAL (Juniper and Ivy), Tamez transformed the space into an ice cream wonderland splattered with dripping hues of color and a handful of metal tubs with about 10 flavors. different.
As a Mexican-American who grew up in San Diego but has roots in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Tamez has combined his travels through Mexico and his background as an American businessman to provide a space where locals can indulge in this dessert without having to go overboard.
As a student, Tamez spent a year traveling around Mexico, visiting small towns where nieves de garrafa triumphed over other desserts. He says he has met chefs from around the country, including ordinary street vendors with decades of experience making this ice cream to create his own recipes for Sadie’s.
Of the flavors he found, the following three are among his customers’ favorites: Beso de Ángel (a trail mix-like flavor with nuts, fruit, cherries and marshmallows), Chocolate Abuelita (using the namesake and favorite brand of hot Mexican chocolate) and Café de Olla (inspired by Mexican coffee prepared with cinnamon and piloncillo).
A unique ice cream sandwich using Randy’s Donuts is also on the menu, a preview of Tamez’s upcoming venture after acquiring the franchise and planning to open the first Randy’s location in San Diego later this year.
While vegan and gluten-free options are also available, flavors like the ones above transport you to a warm place in Mexico where the taste of sweet and icy traditional Mexican ingredients melts on your tongue.
Address: 3001 Bonita Road, Chula Vista
Becerril is a freelance writer.