In an unassuming strip mall on the outskirts of Cary’s thriving downtown, is a sweet spot that the locals love. Vida Dulce – Spanish for the sweet life – is an ice cream shop with a deliciously Mexican flair.
Opened in May of 2018, Vida Dulce is still new to the local scene, but it began over 30-years-ago when one of the owners, Carlos Torres was only 10-years-old and selling popsicles in his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico. Years later, when Carlos’ cousin Eric Torres, a Raleigh native, was looking for business opportunities, it was a no brainer to work together and find a way to share their love of ice cream with the rest of the community.
Today, all that hard work shows in this whimsical new space filled with bright colors and sweet smells that not only sells popsicles as Carlos did all those years ago but also homemade ice cream flavors that speak to everyone’s childhood memories.
On the day that I happened to be at Vida Dulce, it was gloomy and raining but the store was still bustling with business. You know it has to be good if people will venture into an overcast day just for ice cream.
Usually, I am that person at an ice cream shop who samples at least five different flavors but in the end, always settles on the plain strawberry. This visit too started the same way. However, when Carlos kept the generous samples coming, I knew my usual favorite had found a good match.
There were many flavor combinations that really stood out from the crowd, like the blackberry with hints of queso – or cheese – and the coconut with the perfect balance of nuttiness and sweetness. Then there was the dairy-free and vegan mango sorbet with tamarind sauce which really spoke to my love for spicy-and-sweet. In the end, though, I chose pine nut which is something I had never seen as an ice cream flavor before. It was unfussy and delicious, with plenty of crunchy bits to complement the sweet.
Let’s just say that after eating all those samples and getting a big bowl of the pine nuts ice cream, I didn’t think I could handle any more ice cream. That is until I took a peek inside the popsicle case and found a rainbow of options stacked high and too good to pass up.
The Oreo popsicle with entire pieces of cookie inside, the Fruity Pebble cereal popsicle which looked too colorful and beautiful to eat, Horchata, bright green Avocado, the chocolate covered bananas with sprinkles, and so many more, including a long list of vegan and non-dairy choices like spicy mango, watermelon, and even jalapeno and habanero for the curious and the brave. This time I couldn’t resist the allure of the strawberry-butter though and asked Carlos to add it to the order.
The unique thing that sets Vida Dulce apart is the fact that in addition to a robust ice cream and popsicle menu, they also serve small bites and classic street foods like street corn, churros, nachos, hotdogs, smoothies, milkshakes and so much more. This could very well be an all-in-one stop for a family meal out. As their mission suggests, they want their shop to be a happy meeting place for people of all cultures and backgrounds.
Fresh-made rolled ice creams and popsicles, friendly staff, inviting storefront, easy parking, plenty of tables and chairs inside, is what make Vida Dulce a great place to get your dessert fix, and the best place to get ice cream (and popsicles) in Cary, NC.
Vida Dulce is located at 836 E. Chatham Street # 401, Cary NC. The ice cream shop is open Monday through Sunday from 11 am to 10 pm.