Helado. The Spanish word for ice cream slides over the tongue as easily as ice cream itself. At Pincho Loco, the ice cream and dessert shop tucked between Broad and Ninth streets in Durham, this creamy delight takes on many forms.
True to a Latin American sense of style, the little shop announces its presence at 1918 Perry Street with a profusion of colorful signs, the biggest ones offering their menu choices in both English and Spanish.
Their website informs the customer that they use native Latino flavors, like Tequila, Tiger Tail (vanilla, Mexican vanilla, and chocolate), guava and tamarind along with their traditional flavors. So, while you can get ice cream, popsicles and cakes in popular southern favorites like banana pudding and red velvet cake or traditional frozen must-haves like cookies and cream, butter pecan or rum raisin, this sweet shop has a wonderful variety of Latin-inspired sweet treats.
The freezer section of ready-made takeout decorated ice creams is just as colorful, full of ice cream cupcakes and cakes called pasteles and mangonadas in Spanish, and in addition to the many flavors of in-house made ice cream and fruit-flavored popsicles they offer other Latin American specialties, including horchata (a sweet milky drink flavored with cinnamon), and warm rice pudding. Recently they added beer to their offerings, perhaps as a nod to what seems to be a growing trend.
I am in the mood for a good old fashioned hand-dipped cone, though, and luckily the young woman behind the counter is patient and generous with the flavor samples. Some of the flavors cater to grown-up tastes, or at least over 21 tastes, with ice cream named after popular liquor like tequila and Kahlua. I sampled the Kahlua and banana pudding, liking them both, but when I tried the butter pecan, creamy and full of pecans, I knew I had found my ice cream cone.
As I sat savoring the butter pecan, I began to realize that I would have to try my husband Dave’s rum raisin as well. The right to taste your partner’s food at restaurants and ice cream parlors is one of the underrated benefits of a long-term relationship. I found that after many years of not caring much about rum raisin, I had finally been converted. It was full of raisins, and the flavor of rum was so intense that I wasn’t sure how they could have made it non-alcoholic.
While we continued to eat our ice cream, a woman came in to pick up a personalized birthday cake, and when I admired it, she told me that one side was lemon ice cream and the other cookies and cream. Since these cakes are all made to order, customers can get them any way they like.
When we finished, we headed out for a bicycle ride. Cycling goes well with ice cream eating. The exercise from the first allows us to continue with the second without negative consequences, and I already have my eye on the Nutella crepes for next time.
Pincho Loco is located at 1918 Perry Street in Durham, NC. They are open Monday through Thursday, 11 am to 10 pm, and Friday through Sunday, 10 am to 10 pm.