Unexpected tastes at Heladería Lares
Heladería Lares has around 50 flavours on offer each day. (Karina Martinez-Carter)
Once Puerto Rico gets oppressively hot, there is only one food adventure to be had.
In the small central town of Lares, Heladería Lares scoops one of the most impressive collections of ice cream flavours to be found anywhere -- on the island or off.
Around 50 flavours are on offer each day, ranging from standard crowd-pleasers to more unusual tastes. Corn, sweet potato sprinkled with cinnamon, rice and beans, garlic, avocado, and codfish all get whipped into ice cream, as well as what seems like almost every available seasonal fruit, including quenepa, which only exists on the island. Even the oddest of the flavours tastes as sweet and creamy as ice cream should and has a gelato-like consistency.
Heladería Lares claims to rotate a total of 500 flavours, all of which are the owner’s original recipes. Despite the shop’s popularity and the queues that form, staff are friendly and helpful, although they understandably limit the amount of flavours patrons can try.
The parlour was established in late 1958 by Salvador Barreto, and is still run by his family. The walls of the heladería are covered with photographs of famous visitors, as well as yellowing press clippings about the shop, images of the island and local memorabilia. Locals and visitors come to see what food has been turned into the ice cream of the day, emerging from the parlour to take in the tiny, mountainous town of Lares, cone or cup in hand.