Some of Los Angeles’ most interesting ice cream flavors can be found in a San Fernando Valley strip mall located behind a 7-Eleven. La Reyna de Michoacan would be unique just for the variety of tropical fruit flavors, but what makes it truly one-of-a-kind is that the ice cream at La Reyna de Michoacan is kosher. As the sign out front reads, it's technically “Mexican Kosher Ice Cream.” The term “Only in L.A.” is greatly overused, but it no doubt applies here.
Owner Rafael Algaze has been making homemade ice cream for six years. Being Jewish, he was repeatedly asked when he was going to do kosher ice cream. He took popular Central and South American flavors and adapted them to kosher standards — and three years ago began serving fully kosher ice cream. “It’s not that complicated,” Algaze says. “I just had to work out some flavors, membrillo, queso. … The rest was already kosher.”
La Reyna de Michoacan has 28 ice cream flavors in its freezer cases at any given time. In addition to the queso (cheese) and membrillo (quince), they can include guanabana, a large, white-fleshed fruit also known as soursop, and leche quemada, a caramelized milk candy flavor popular in Mexico. Another flavor, lucuma, might be familiar to anyone who has had dessert at Peruvian restaurants. While some describe the orange-hued ice cream as having a sweet potato–like flavor, we find the flavor difficult to pin down. There are familiar flavors, too, like coffee.
Two uncommon flavors on the wall-mounted menu, marañon (cashew fruit) and jocote, weren't available. When asked about them, Algaze replied: “Some people like them, but the kids, they want cookies and cream.” Regarding the availability of seasonal ice cream flavors, he says: “We’re in Los Angeles — if you want watermelon, we can get it any time of the year.”
La Reyna de Michoacan also has a selection of paletas and nondairy sorbets (parve), including nance, a distinctively flavored yellow fruit from Central and South America. The ice creams are available in cones or cups, and 14-ounce containers are available from a small freezer case.
La Reyna de Michoacan, 7147 Lindley Ave., Reseda; (213) 321-1547.