Welcome to the Neighborhood, La Michoacana Premier

Such a pretty popsicle. Photo by Erin DeWitt

The space on the corner of Seventh Street and Orange Avenue that had sat vacant for many months, its windows covered up with brown paper and a “Coming Soon” sign up so long it became faded and dusty, reopened in January as La Michoacana Premier, a quick stop for Mexican snacks, ice cream and paletas.

When it comes to ice-cream shops, the La Michoacana moniker not only has been used for generations in Mexico, but it’s even seen some legal battles over who officially owns the name. With literally thousands of small, family-run paleterías around the continent branding themselves as La Michoacana, borrowing heavily from the same business name, model and even décor, there’s really no containing it at this point.

This La Michoacana Premier is decorated in bright white, pink and green stripes, with a lengthy counter at which to order (and visually peruse all the frozen treats); you pay at the register at the end, cafeteria style. Take a moment to browse the several menus and take it all in: The walls are lined with de-facto paletería stock photos (candy-colored and ultra-sharp), neatly stacked packets of Rancheritos and Churrumais and Takis, and picture- and animated-text-based menu boards—there’s a lot going on.

Everything on these menus breaks down into basically two flavor profiles: soft and sweet or intensely tangy and spicy.

Getting crazy with the pepino loco. Photo by Erin DeWitt

The almost assaultingly tart snack pepino loco comes with four cucumber pieces hollowed out into shot glasses and filled with Japanese peanuts, nestled on a bed of chopped jicama, mango and more cucumber, all doused with flame-red chamoy sauce and Tajín. In this variation, that’s all topped with long ribbons of bouncy cueritos (pickled pig skin, which wasn’t exactly my jam, but I would definitely order the dish again, sans blubber).

Smoothies come topped with whipped cream and are available in any fruit combo you want. The freshly made juices—a dozen vegan options to choose from—come in mixes such as Dracula (beet, orange, celery and strawberry) or Verde (cactus, celery, apple, spinach and ginger).

Happiness on a stick. Photo by Erin DeWitt

And then there’s the Hot Cheetos elote. A hefty ear of sweet yellow corn is boiled, slathered in mayo, then heavily coated in fine neon-red crumbles. No lime, no cotija—and, really, there’s no need. The Hot Cheetos, last year’s trendiest condiment, add plenty of tang, heat and crunch. Wait a few minutes for the mayo to warm up and meld with the Cheetos dust.

But this is an ice cream parlor after all, and the flavors include coco leche, chocolate abuelita, Snickers, arroz con leche, regular coffee and Starbucks coffee. But even with all this creamy pastel dreaminess, the real draw here is the paletas. Rows upon rows of individually wrapped and carefully poured popsicles come in a spectrum of sugar and fruit. There are the classics—strawberry, coffee, banana with delicately spaced banana slices, and coconut with translucent cubes of coconut flesh frozen within—but La Michoacana Premier also sells pops in tequila-almond, bubble gum, Gansito (a snack cake akin to a chocolate-covered, jelly-filled Twinkie), cajeta (goat-milk caramel), soursop fruit, cookie monster (blue with whole chocolate sandwhich cookies), and many more. And at just $2 per popsicle, you could order a few different ones.

While there’s no shortage of La Michoacana ice cream shops in Southern California, we didn’t have one on this corner.

La Michoacana Premier, 1168 E. Seventh St., Long Beach.

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