Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Restaurant Review: Mateo's Ice Cream & Fruit Bars

I don't always cook myself. In fact, I really enjoy going out to restaurants and eating.... a lot! It's where I started taking photos of food, and where I get inspired. It's also nice not to have to clean up all the dishes! 

My friend Swilson and I were hungry again, and decided we wanted to get smoothies. She suggested a place that had "unique flavors and combinations", and she had read on Yelp that it got good reviews. She "knew where it was, but not what it was called." I sighed, and got into her car, expecting some posh little indie smoothie place with hipsters and artists. Instead we drove up to a mini mall, and there at the end was a bright orange building with bright pre-school colored cartoon fruits and a popsicle with a hat that said MATEO'S. I don't speak spanish, but it was everywhere, "Paletas Y Nives De Frutas!" and "Jugos Y Licuados!" and as I got out of the car, I grinned. This was going to be an adventure! To me, hole-in-the-wall, homemade, mom & pop places are the BEST. They usually have the best tasting food, and I feel good giving them my money. 
Lovely Swilson in front of Mateo's

As we walked in, we immediately saw the ice cream counter. "Ooooh..." i murmured to myself, and as we looked at the smoothie options, we couldn't help but glance back down at the ice creams. "Want to get ice cream?" Swilson suggested, "Heck yes!" I replied. 

Mateo's indeed has unique flavors, some I haven't even heard of, let alone could pronounce. Of course I tried everything. 

The first one I tried was "Pitaya", AKA: Cactus Fruit. It was a gorgeous bright red color, with black seeds in it. It tasted pretty watery, was more sorbet in texture, and had a light fruity taste, almost like strawberries. 

The second one I tried was "Mezcal c/n Nuez" or just "Mezcal" for short. To my surprise, it was Tequila flavored ice cream! At first the tequila flavor was like a hit to the head, it even went up my nose a little. Then, as the ice cream melted, it simmered into a really lovely floral note, and ended creamy and smooth. The tequila flavor hit me as such a surprise, I don't even remember the texture of the ice cream!

The third ice cream I tried was called "Leche Quemada", AKA: Smoked Milk. What the heck is "Smoked Milk"?! Well, it tastes pretty much like milk that's been cooked over a BBQ flame and churned into ice cream. Or kissing someone who's been smoking who also happened to eat vanilla ice cream. Weird, and kind of not so tasty. The texture, however, was thick, smooth and chewy! Yum!

The fourth, and final, ice cream I tried was "Horchata c/n Nuez", or "Horchata" for short. Horchata is a mexican drink made out of the milk from rice...though it is originally found in Spain made from a type of nut. The mexican version is sweeter, is mixed with a lot of cinnamon and has a nice rice-like "twang" to it. This ice cream was both Swilson and I's favorite, as we also have a soft spot for Horchata anyways. 
We got a scoop of it, and sat down on one of the brightly colored chairs pulled up to the brightly colored tables with wooden animals carved into them and dug in. 

The Horchata ice cream was really sweet and full of creamy flavor. It had some diced up walnuts running through it, and had a little bit of spices as well, but was missing that ricey "horchata" flavor. Still, Swilson and I agreed that our favorite part about it was the texture. It was really thick, and chewy, almost having that taffy-like consistency...delicious 
Lovely Swilson enjoying her Horchata Ice Cream!
Me, er...enjoying my Horchata Ice Cream...
I would definitely come back to Mateo's for more ice cream, as I hear they change up their flavors a lot! Next time, I may even get that smoothie!

Address for Mateo's: 4929 Sepulveda Blvd
Culver City, CA 90230

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