Missing Choco Taco Already? Here Are 3 Ways Angelenos Are Making It Their Own
As the news of the demise of Choco Taco broke this week, and we began running through the phases of internet grief reserved for a beloved pop culture culinary icon, a theme began to emerge.
Several people involved in LA’s dining scene had already made their versions of the ice cream novelty. So we’ve pulled them together for you. Here are some excellent options to help you overcome the post-Choco Taco blues.
Sad Girl Creamery
It was sometime in the afternoon of July 25th when SueEllen Mancini, owner of Sad Girl Creamery, started to get bombarded with DM’s as the Choco Taco news began to spread.
“I had like 15 people send me that article within just a few minutes of it being posted; I was like, all right. Y'all, I get it,” she said.
As it happens, about a month ago, on a whim, Mancini started developing her own take on the Choco Taco using her Latinx background (part Chilean, part Uruguayan) as inspiration for her flavors.
For her first foray, she collaborated with the Theodore Payne Foundation, a non-profit that advocates for native plants. Using a vanilla ice cream steeped with a Southern California mint, she created the taco with a folded Mexican vanilla brown butter waffle cone and a dark chocolate shell topped with chocolate sprinkles.
Inspired by another of her favorite frozen treats, the strawberry shortcake bar, Mancini created a strawberry shortcake taco with strawberry ice cream made with homemade strawberry jam inside the brown butter waffle cone and a white chocolate shell rolled with strawberry shortcake crumble.
I don't care. I think it's delicious.
She also came up with the Che taco, an homage to the slang term used in Argentina and Uruguay. The taco showcases Argentina dulce de leche (which Mancini grew up eating with Maria cookies), mixed with vanilla ice cream, the waffle cone, and a dark chocolate shell rolled in candied pecans.
Mancini hopes to keep the tacos as part of her regular rotation, even though she admits that making Choco Tacos can be complex.
“Yeah, my only thing about them, which I think is a lot of other people's same complaint, is they can get soggy — honestly, low key. It is pretty hard to make the waffle not soften up completely. Mine don't soften up all the way, but you are stuffing them with ice cream, so it will soak that up and soften up regardless. I don't care. I think it's delicious.”
Over in Studio City, Jeff Strauss, owner of Oy Bar, can relate. He experienced a similar occurrence when the news broke. Just two weeks previously, he had also created his own version of a Choco Taco. (Was there something in the air?)
He’d been chatting with his chef de cuisine Kenya Bovey and pastry and sous chef Alex Madayag about their memories of the dessert.
We can play with this thing that will make people remember these moments in their past.
Bovey recalled going skateboarding in Venice and Mar Vista as a kid and stopping by the liquor store to get Choco Tacos afterward. Strauss recalled his time eating Choco Tacos after he’d moved to LA after college to become a film and TV screenwriter.
“We got excited about it and thought — we could do that. We can play with this thing that will make people remember these moments in their past," Strauss said.
So, powered by that nostalgia, the team came up with their own version featuring homemade ice cream with Valrhona Manjari single-origin chocolate from Madagascar, sprinkled with toasted almonds, and stuffed with chocolate sauce inside a taco shell made via a pizzelle press. Other taco iterations included a miso-bourbon dipping sauce.
They had the taco on the menu for a short time but then took it off, knowing they’d offer it again at some point in the future.
Flash forward to this week, when the end of Choco Taco was announced. Strauss and Bovey started texting each other in a frenzy, discussing how to bring it back. They decided for the next two weeks, Oy Bar would paying homage once again, using new combinations of flavors.
One version will feature Mexican hot chocolate-inspired flavors like cinnamon and spice, with a buttered candy crunch to resemble cojita cheese, as a nod to living in L.A.
According to Strauss, the featured menu is “filtered through that experience of living in this city. We all love Los Angeles and the flavors that Los Angeles brings.”
They also hope to offer an accompanying shot during the two weeks for those who wish to toast the Choco Taco or pour one out in remembrance of a simpler time.
A Cozy Kitchen
Growing up in Buena Park, she says she’d regularly enjoy the tasty treat.
“There was an ice cream truck that would always drive into our neighborhood. My go-to order was always a Choco Taco,” Adarme recalled.
Inspired by those childhood memories, she set out to make her own. But she also felt compelled to try recipes that might require special equipment as an adult. So in her version, Adarme used a WaffleCone Express to make her waffle discs. (She says you can also use a non-stick skillet for cooking your batter.)
I say follow the recipe as closely as you like! Fill the tacos with different ice cream flavors, and add different toppings!
Afterward, she removes the disc and uses a thin book wrapped in a paper towel to create the taco shape. Adarme encourages those willing to take on the task of making their own to customize to their liking.
“I added all sorts of different nuts and sprinkles on top. The fun of making something at home is customizing it," Adarme said.
“I say follow the recipe as closely as you like! Fill the tacos with different ice cream flavors, and add different toppings!”
The idea of making the Choco Taco your own is a running theme throughout these makers’ stories. Those collective memories come with a sense of empowerment for Angelenos, who aren’t deterred by the fact that they will no longer find Choco Tacos on ice cream trucks and liquor store shelves, and maybe that’s a good thing.
Because while the inexpensive after-school treat after a day of skating hit like no other, it’s worth considering that we as a culture have evolved far from the 80s when Choco Taco originally began.
But it’s hard to deny the cultural significance it holds in the city's heart, and we are better for it; just make sure to grab some extra napkins.