Everyone’s favorite Elotero, Hijinio Camacho, has become as well known as Freebirds. On some days, he is easy to find for your daily elote fix, and on others he is nowhere to be found. Thankfully, there is a different elote shop to fill the hungry void in our hearts and stomachs.
Alex Ice Cream, located in Goleta, sells elotes and ice cream, among other Mexican snacks. You can purchase manzanas chamoy, esquites, aguas frescas, palomitas, tostilocos, chicharrones, and more to your heart’s desire.
The outside is unassuming and doesn’t display the name of the shop. However, you’ll know you’re in the right place when you pass by the window with colorful pictures of the different items they sell. In fact, Alex Ice Cream goes by the name The Elote Shop on Yelp.
Inside is a small storefront with a cozy table for two. Like the window, the inside displays bright pictures of the different items they sell. There is also a display case full of treats and juices. To the side is a whiteboard listing the various ice cream flavors, specials, and other treats available that day.
The workers are pretty friendly and patient. It took me a while to settle on what I wanted, and they were super helpful in answering any questions I had. Not all foods on the menu are available at all times, however. This isn’t that unexpected considering it’s a small mom and pop restaurant.
While gazing at the display case full of various items, one of the workers offered to let me sample one of their coconut limes. She described them as a type of Mexican candy. It was the skin of a lime stuffed with sweetened coconut shreds. Despite being called candy, it wasn’t tooth-achingly sweet. It allowed more for the blend of coconut and lime flavors to thrive without being drowned in sugar.
The first thing my photographer and I ordered was the mangonada, by recommendation of a worker. The mangonada, which is a mango slush mixed with chamoy and served with a tamarind straw, fell short of my expectations. It melted incredibly fast, and the flavors were lacking a little. It was sweet and tangy, yet it didn’t pack a punch. The mango flavor was overpowered; in fact, everything was a bit watered down.
Additionally, we ordered the watermelon agua fresca, which was the only agua fresca available that day. Similar to the coconut lime, it wasn’t overly sweet. The sweetness level perfectly complimented the watermelon, making it delightfully refreshing on a beautiful Santa Barbara Saturday.
They were out of esquites, so I settled for the classic elote. This elote was more on the creamy and cheesy side, which a delightful mayo to corn ratio. It wasn’t too spicy, but the flavor was still there. Unfortunately, the corn itself was too hard and not that sweet. Nevertheless, the toppings helped satisfy the cravings I had.
The biggest disappointment of the day was the gelatina, which looked incredibly irresistible. After much internal debate, I decided to take the plunge. It was described as a type of jelly; this particular one was strawberry flavored. It included strawberries cooked into the jelly and fresh strawberry on top with a mint leaf for garnish.
Before I dove in, I was greeted with a gray little fuzz nestled among the strawberry. It didn’t take long to realize that mold had grown on top of the gelatina. My photographer asked the workers about it, but they thought we were referring to the cooked strawberry. They assured us the gelatina was made the day before and was indeed fresh. Despite not realizing there was mold, they offered a free replacement (which we ultimately declined).
Though our experience did have a few moments of despondency, it was ultimately still fun. There are still so many other treats to try, and the kind workers didn’t want us to leave unsatisfied. It’s definitely worth visiting when exploring Old Town Goleta.
You can find Alex Ice Cream at 5844 Hollister Avenue in Old Town Goleta. Though it’s formally open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., actual opening times may vary, like most small businesses tend to do. Just remember that they only accept cash.