New Bonita ice cream shop scoops nostalgic Mexican flavors
If you have ever been to a park in Mexico — be it in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato or Guadalajara, Jalisco — you know the space is home to local vendors with wooden carts.
Some carry esquites topped with mayo and powdered cheese. Others hold 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 especially greeted by the public. The category: nieves de garrafa (churned ice cream made in a pot). A staple in Mexican cuisine, what sets this type of artisanal ice cream apart from the rest is the process in which it is made.
Taking a wooden tub with ice cubes and salt as a base, dedicated ice cream makers place a metal bin inside where ingredients are mixed by hand for almost an hour until they are crystallized into a frozen treat. A true Mexican culinary gem boasted by people of Latin origins for the labor and flavor behind it.
Now, San Diegans will not have to travel far to satisfy their nieve de garrafa cravings.
Instead of going to Jalisco, they can go to Bonita, where Sadie’s Hand Crafted Mexican Ice Cream offers a rainbow of flavors of the Mexican-inspired ice cream.
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. The logo for his shop was inspired by the silhouette of Sadie’s side profile, making the hair bows “she wears every day at the breakfast table” a key detail in the bubble gum pink design.
“She has a unique personality, and she loves to eat,” Tamez said about Sadie. “We could eat all over 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 neighbors with the Bonita location, right off the I-805 near Westfield Plaza Bonita.
He says the inspiration behind Sadie’s is like Revolución’s. He saw a lack of authentic Mexican food — in this case, ice cream — and decided to do something “different.”
“There wasn’t a good place for Mexican ice cream,” Tamez said. “I wanted something that us Mexicans could feel proud of, for representing this type of Mexican ice cream.”
With the help of design firm PGAL (Juniper and Ivy), Tamez transformed the space into an ice cream wonderland splattered in hues of dripping colors and a handful of metal tubs with about 10 different flavors.
As a Mexican American who grew up in San Diego but has roots in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Tamez combined his travels across Mexico and experience as an American businessman to provide a space where locals can indulge in this dessert without having to go too far.
When he was a school student, Tamez spent a year traveling in Mexico, visiting small towns where nieves de garrafa triumphed over other desserts. He says he met with chefs in the country, including ordinary street vendors with decades worth of experience making this ice cream to create his own recipes for Sadie’s.
From the flavors he came up with, 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 loved brand of Mexican hot chocolate) and Café de Olla (inspired by the Mexican coffee prepared with cinnamon and piloncillo).
A unique ice cream sandwich using Randy’s Donuts is on the menu as well, a preview of Tamez’s upcoming project after having acquired the franchise and planning the opening of the first Randy’s location in San Diego later this year.
While vegan and gluten-free options are also available, its flavors like those above that transport you to a warm place in Mexico where the taste of sweet, ice cold, traditional Mexican ingredients melt on your tongue.
Address: 3001 Bonita Road, Chula Vista
Becerril is a freelance writer.
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