writing by Kendra Aronson
photography by Jennifer Olson

Tucked away in a nondescript strip mall in Grover Beach, is La Real Michoacana #2 Ice Cream Shop, a hidden hole-in-the-wall serving up authentic paletas (popsicles), aguas frescas (flavored waters), ice cream, and savory snacks. The husband and wife team, Santi and Sabas Perez, make everything from scratch for both their Grover location and their flagship shop in Santa Maria.

After 6 successful years of operation in Santa Maria, the couple decided to open up another shop in Grover Beach, which will turn 2 this July. “We make everything [on] our own. We make all of our ice cream in Santa Maria; I deliver everything to Grover,” beams Santi.

La Real Michoacana translates to the “true” Michoacán version. “Tocumbo is [a municipality] in the Mexican state of Michoacán—that is where paletas originated. There they started making ice cream—they have these big barrels of ice, and a can inside the ice. They hand mix the ingredients inside the can to make ice cream,” Santi explains. La Real Michoacana pays homage to the birthplace of Mexican popsicles and ice cream by offering authentic flavors made from scratch using real fruit and real ingredients.

“The most popular paleta is our strawberries and cream, the second most popular is our cookies and cream,” she chuckles, “Other popular paletas are pecan, vanilla, cappuccino, chocolate.” With over 50 different flavors—some milk-based and some water-based—there is something for everyone: from classics like banana, cherry, and coconut, to more unique offerings like crema con cajeta de guayaba (cream with concentrated, caramelized guava), mamay (made from the fruit of the mamey sapote—a species of tree native to Mexico and Central America that yields a custardy flavor), and rompope con pasas (eggnog with raisins).

When it comes to their homemade ice cream, they carry over 40 flavors—many of which are impossible to find at the grocery store. Flavors include petalo de rosa (rose petal), elote (corn), piñon (pinenut), and tequila! If you are craving a delicious cultural experience, La Real Michoacana is the perfect place for you. “The most popular ice cream is cookies and cream, flan, strawberry. Also our chocolate abuelita (Mexican-style hot chocolate) is very popular."

If you are yearning for a refreshing drink, opt for one of the aguas frescas. “We have one called La California that’s pineapple, orange, and lime—it’s very good. Then we have Frutas which is a combination of papaya, cantaloupe, strawberry, and guava. People love the Limón con Chia (lemon with chia seeds), that’s the most popular of the waters. And horchata, everybody loves horchata."

To get a real taste of Mexico, try the Magonada. “It’s a cup with strawberry ice cream, mango ice cream, and then we put chamoy, chili powder, and a tamarindo stick.” Chamoy is a sauce made from pickled fruit—typically apricots, plums, or mangos as its fruit base. During our interview, Santi was in midst of preparing a beautiful bright batch of the crimson sauce. The scent was sweet, salty, sour, and spicy!

Then of course, there are their famous chocotacos, which are even made-to-order. That’s right, none of these frozen pre-packaged chocotacos that sit months on end waiting to be bought that you can find from a gas station or corner shop. At La Real Michoacana they make the waffle taco shells from scratch beforehand to expedite the process; then the customer picks their flavor of ice cream (!), the taco gets a chocolate dip to seal in the freshly scooped ice cream (!!), and finally a topping of the customer’s choosing—peanuts, shredded coconut, chocolate sprinkles, or rainbow sprinkles (!!!). It’s amazing—ask me how I know. “A lot of people are surprised that we make it right there, a lot of places already have them pre-made with the ice cream already pre-chosen, sitting there waiting for people to buy them. Not us, we let me choose the ice cream, then we make it right there,” smiles Santi.

Get your frozen treat fix by visiting
one of two locations on the Central Coast:

La Real Michoacana #1
832 N Broadway
Santa Maria, CA 93454

Open everyday 10–9 p.m.

La Real Michoacana #2
1554 W Grand Avenue
Grover Beach, CA

Open everyday 12–8pm;
Fridays and Saturdays open until 9 p.m.

Originally published in Edible San Luis Obispo & Wine Country 
Summer 201
6 · Issue 14