Taste Exotic Ice Cream Flavors in Lares
Feb/14- Due to Don Yinyo’s death, the Heladeria has closed. They are hoping to re-open by April 2014. BUT I would strongly recommend calling first to make sure it has re-opened before visiting.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! If you love ice cream (helado in Spanish) , or just want to taste some exotic flavors, I have a place for you to go.
Heladeria Lares is an ice cream shop in Lares that has 45-50 delicious flavors of ice creams daily — many very unusual.
This ice cream shop was recently featured in the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern when they did a show about Puerto Rican food.
The ice cream shop (heladeria in Spanish) is located right on the town square in Lares, just across the street from the Church. This narrow shop was opened in 1968 by Salvador Barreto ("Yinyo"). Today, the shop is operated by the same family, and they still make the same delicious and unusual flavors using Yinyo’s original recipes.
The store’s walls are covered with photographs, historical newspapers and articles about the town, the store and news-worthy events around Puerto Rico. Supposedly, they have recipes for 500 flavors, but I think that may be an exaggeration. They have room in their freezers for about 60 flavors, but they do double up on many of the more popular flavors. So, on any given day, you’ll have around 40 or 50 flavors to choose from. There are some tables where you can sit inside and eat your treat, and even an area for a DJ on weekends, when the place gets busy.
The Ice Cream
The ice cream is all home made. The flavors range from traditional ones you know and love (like cookies & cream, vanilla or chocolate) to "exotic" ones that you’d never have imagined (like cod fish, rice & beans or garlic) to some other in-between flavors (like carrot, sweet potato or corn). The names of the ice creams flavors are in Spanish, but the scooper will translate them for you.
They give out 2 free samples for you to try before making a decision. I think that choosing was the hardest part! I like ice cream, so I wanted something that would taste good, but be slightly unusual (but not too gross).
We each tried a couple different flavors before making our final decisions. Ray tasted the rice & beans — it wasn’t sweet enough for his taste — and calabaza (pumpkin) — which he said was bland. He choose arroz con dulce (rice pudding flavor) and corn — both of which are their most popular flavors. I tasted the calabaza & batata (pumpkin/sweet potato) combination and ajonjoli (sesame seed) — which was good. I choose the calabaza & batada combination — which I liked — and almond cake. We each got 2 scoops in a dish. It was a yummy treat!
Prices were reasonable. You can get your ice cream in a cup or cone. About $3.50 for 2 scoops.
787-602-2215 (only Spanish)
Note- hours change frequently, so call before going to check- Closed Monday and Tuesday. Currently (3/12) open Wednesday through Sunday. Wed-Friday 10:00am to 5:00pm, Sat and Sunday 9am – 6pm.
You can eat your ice cream inside the store or take it to go and enjoy your treat walking around or on a bench in the town square.
Heladeria Lares was a little hard to find, but if take Route 129 into Lares, then turn into the center of town. It is right on the main square. Finding parking on the street was even more difficult, even on a Friday at noon when we went. I imagine that you’ll end up parking farther away on weekends.
Allow about 1 hour to drive to Lares from the San Juan area. If you going to the Rio Camuy Caves Park or the Arecibo Radiotelescope you can easily make a side-trip for some ice cream — it’s only about 20 minutes away from the caves.
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