After a delicious meal, there is nothing better than ice cream with friends and family for dessert. Just beyond downtown South Bend sits a family-owned ice cream parlor that will have your tastebuds doing backflips. Since 2002, La Rosita has been serving up delicious, homemade ice cream as well as some other unique desserts that you just have to try when you stop in.
When Juan Cervera moved from Chicago to South Bend with his family, his original plan had been to open up a restaurant. However, after visiting his brother in Mexico, he was convinced by his brother to open up an ice cream parlor. For most of his life, Cervera had worked with sweets. In Chicago, Cervera worked at a candy factory for many years. And when he moved to South Bend, he first got a job at the South Bend Chocolate Factory to help support his family. Despite Cervera’s experience with candies, he still did not know the first thing about making ice cream. Cervera’s brother assured him that he would travel to South Bend and teach him everything he needed to know about making homemade ice cream if Cervera bought all of the necessary equipment.
So Cervera bought a piece of land on 2909 W. Western Avenue, built the ice cream parlor with his bare hands and bought everything he needed, but there was one, little problem—his brother never showed! Not to be discouraged, Cervera took it upon himself to attend a few classes on how to make ice cream as well as spend countless hours learning on his own until he became a master. In April of 2002, La Rosita finally opened its doors and people have fallen in love with this ice cream parlor ever since.
When Cervera and staff started out, all of their ice cream came from distributors. However, as Cervera learned and developed his skills, he offered more of his homemade ice cream. Today, La Rosita has kept some of the fan favorite flavors from distributors, but now they handmake approximately 85 percent of their ice cream from scratch.
La Rosita serves up 32 flavors of ice cream and 22 flavors of paletas, or Mexican ice pops. Some of the top-selling ice cream flavors include Mexican chocolate, coupling the spice of cinnamon with the sweetness of chocolate, and Gansito which tastes like strawberry shortcake melded with chocolate chip ice cream. One of the best paleta flavors they make is called “eskimo strawberry” which is a strawberry paleta dipped in chocolate and covered in flakes of coconut.
Other popular items on the menu are chamango, chamoyada, mangonada, and escamocha. The secret ingredient that gives these four Mexican fruit drinks their signature taste is the chamoy. Chamoy is a sort of candy sauce that is popular among Latino culture. It is sweet, sour, and spicy all at the same moment. The chamoy is poured over fresh pieces of fruit, like mango, strawberries, and watermelon making for great, tasty treats.
Surprisingly, La Rosita’s most popular item on the menu is not ice cream at all. It is corn, topped with mayo, cheese, butter and chili powder, and served in a cup or on a stick. According to Cervera, one in every two customers who walks through the door will order this Mexican snack. The mayo, cheese and butter compliment the corn’s sweetness while the chili powder adds just enough spiciness to give your tastebuds a whirl.
From ice cream and paletas to fruit drinks and corn in a cup, La Rosita provides a menu that will cater to everyone. And when you have La Rosita once, you will want to come back again and again. If you happen to drive by on Sundays, you will see a line out the door and down the block full of hungry people waiting to order. Don’t worry — there is plenty of sweet treats for everyone so just be patient.
Another great time to visit La Rosita is during the first Wednesday of every month for West Side Wednesday. West Side Wednesday helps promote local businesses on the West Side of South Bend and it gives people the opportunity to discover hidden gems, like La Rosita, among the Hispanic and Latino culture. With food, activities and live music, West Side Wednesday is now something people look forward to every month. And, La Rosita looks forward to it too; many people get a taste of La Rosita for the first time.
This family-owned ice cream parlor provides an atmosphere both parents and kids will love with the colorful images on the walls and friendly faces to greet you as walk up to order. Stop in for a scoop (or two) of your favorite ice cream or try something new like the Mexican-inspired shaved ice, chamoyada. Come see why La Rosita is one of the best places for dessert in The Bend today!
MORE SWEET TREATS IN THE BEND
South Bend Chocolate Café: Head to downtown South Bend for gourmet chocolates, fresh roasted coffee, and a delicious cup of hot chocolate.
Kilwin’s Chocolate & Ice Cream: Located near the University of Notre Dame, Kilwin’s offers ice cream, handmade chocolates, confections, handmade fudge and more.
Rise ‘N Roll Bakery: Have a bite of fresh, Amish-made baked goods, donuts, meats, cheeses, jams and jellies.
Claeys Candy: This candy store makes candy the old fashioned way — with high quality ingredients and small production batches.
Let’s Spoon: You are in charge at South Bend’s first frozen yogurt shop with new flavors added daily and endless toppings to choose from.
Cops & Doughnuts: Come on in for a warm, fresh doughnut and a steaming cup of coffee while you enjoy the police decor and friendly atmosphere.
West End Bakery: This family-run bakery, located in the heart of Mishawaka, offers long-standing recipes that are proven favorites of locals and visitors.