New Mexican ‘popsicle’ shop near 31st and Iowa serves both street tacos and desserts

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Palateria Chihuahua, pictured on Feb. 4, 2022, is located at 3020 Iowa Street adjacent to the convenience store near Best Buy.

I’ve been told that our insurance agent would cancel our coverage if he ever saw me eat corn on the cob. It is that messy and that dangerous. So, imagine my delight when I learned of elote, a Mexican dish that takes the corn off the cob, puts it in a cup and combines it with mayo and Cotija cheese.

“It is very popular where I’m from in Mexico,” said Arturo Fernandez, co-owner of Paleteria Chihuahua, a new Mexican restaurant near 31st and Iowa streets. “But it also is really popular here too.”

The dish is one of the best sellers at the small restaurant that has been open a few weeks. If you haven’t noticed it, maybe you are getting too good of gas mileage. The restaurant is next door to the gas station/convenience store that is just west of the Best Buy store.

Lots of people, though, have noticed the restaurant, so much so that it already is expanding. Fernandez and co-owner Ramon Govea are expanding into a former liquor store space to give the restaurant more room come this summer.

Why this summer? Because Paleteria Chihuahua is not just an ordinary Mexican restaurant/taco stand. It is equal parts Mexican dessert shop. In fact, paleteria is basically Spanish for popsicle shop.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

The dining area of Paleteria Chihuahua is pictured on Feb. 4, 2022.

Indeed, the store sells a Mexican brand of popsicle, featuring about 20 flavors ranging from Fresca con Leche to mamey, a type of tropical fruit that some have said tastes like sweet potatoes and pumpkin and apricot and … peach. (Thank heavens it is an efficient fruit. Otherwise you would need a two-by-four for a popsicle stick.)

“I think we are going to have a lot of people in here this summer,” Fernandez said of the pending expansion.

In addition, the shop serves hand-dipped ice cream, featuring about 16 flavors. Most are the same flavors you would think of for an American ice cream shop, but a few are more popular in Mexico, Fernandez said, citing both the coconut and mango flavored ice cream and sherbet.

But if mango is your style, turn your attention to the mangonadas. That’s mango sherbet topped with fresh mangos. Or perhaps better yet is the mango loco, which involves mangos, gummies, peanuts and Tajin, a brand of fruity hot sauce.

While you certainly can find street tacos in Lawrence, Fernandez said he wasn’t seeing much in the way of a true paleteria shop, which he said is a staple of Mexican commerce. So, after having been out of the restaurant business for about three years — he used to own a taco shop in Kansas City for several years — he decided to get back in the business.

So, yes, while desserts are big at Paleteria Chihuahua, there are tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tortas — a Mexican sandwich — and tamales on the menu too. Fillings include steak, chicken, ham, a Mexican sausage, and three types of pork — carnitas, al pastor and buche, which is basically pork stomach, a common filling in authentic Mexican dishes.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

A steak, an al pastor and a carnitas-style tacos are pictured at Paleteria Chihuahua.

While stomach may be on the menu, the shop definitely has some dishes that go after my heart. When you walk into the restaurant, the shelf behind the counter is filled with large bags of Doritos.

The chips are a key ingredient in Elotes Chorreados. That’s one of those cups of corn described above, surrounded by Doritos, nacho cheese sauce, more corn, sour cream, and jalapeños.

If Doritos don’t sound that authentic, rest assured that other parts of the menu are, Fernandez said. He said the heritage of the shop’s recipes, especially for the fillings, is a key to success.

“We have been doing this for a long time,” he said. “The recipes are from my mother, who got it from my grandmother and so on.”

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Paleteria Chihuahua features several Mexican candies and other desserts, but also uses American Doritos for special dish involving a Mexican style corn, cheese, and peppers.


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