[This Hole-In-the-Wall Life] Paleta Paradise at La Flor de Mexico
Knock Stanton all you want—and please do!—but don't snicker at its food scene. It bests most of South County in deals and variety, from high-end New American at Park Ave. to Nory's delectable Peruvian rotisserie chicken and dozens of Korean and Mexican gems. The latest on the list is LA FLOR DE MEXICO.
Here stands another tool to combat this early summer's already-oppressive heat: cooler after cooler of paletas, nieves y cocteles de fruta (fruit bars, ice creams and fruit salads for non-wabs). The kind woman who runs this Mexican ice-cream shop prepares each flavor daily using fresh fruit, aided by her daughter and other family members. All earnings must go into their products, since the strip-mall parcel is barren save for pink-and-white-striped walls, a couple of tables with chairs, and a marquee outside that states ICE CREAM but not the establishment's name. But who needs décor when global warming is threatening to make ice cream a year-round necessity?
La Flor's paletas, nieves and cocteles offer different cooling experiences. The paletas are split into those concocted with fruit juices (de agua) or made with fruit and milk (de crema), but I have no preference between the two categories, so deliciosa they both are. A watermelon paleta refreshes the palate like only that fruit can; a paleta de nuez (walnut) tastes like a Hershey's bar in its comforting charm. La Flor de Mexico offers dozens of flavors that are rotated weekly, all standards of Mexican ice-cream shops, which means you can have fun with oddities: the ones made with cucumber and chile are tinted pink, but they'll burn if you slurp without care.
A somewhat-less-intense pleasure derives from the nieves. Don't get me wrong—La Flor's ice creams are smooth, vibrant and demand to be purchased by the gallon, but their flavors are gentle, not so brash as with the paletas. Here is where you find the tastes for your gabacho soul, your chocolates and cherries and Rocky Roads. Here also, however, are those only-from-Latin America fruits: mamey, a yammy, sweet melon shaped like a football, or ice cream fashioned from the fruit of the prickly-pear cactus (called tuna, strangely enough, in Spanish).
Done on a smaller scale are the cocteles, cups laden with chopped fruit—my favorite is the one filled with mango and syrup—ideal for a picnic. Work through the cup, and praise the gods Stanton is finally on the cusp of breaking into the Second World.
La Flor de Mexico, 7151 Katella Ave., Stanton, (714) 761-2813.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Orange County dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.