36 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY August 31-September 6, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com On a warm day, Lolita’s Ice Cream is a popular place on Soledad’s Front Street. It brings you back to Mexico when you step in—with colorful walls and light shades made of rope. The shop sells antojitos (snacks) and other Mexican street food that will satisfy your sweet, spicy or savory cravings, from raspados (shaved ice) to fruit cocktails, tortas and even pozole. The place is a family-owned and operated business that has been around for three decades. Maria Esther Lopez Mendoza and her husband Longino Castro started their business in a small commercial space on Kidder Street in 1993, selling ice cream, raspados and nachos. They didn’t have a large menu or inventory, and each time they ran out of cups or ice, their young son Daniel would go to the store to get supplies. Prior to starting this business, the couple worked selling products door to door. One day when Castro was doing his route, he noticed a sign transferring a business on Kidder Street. He told his wife, who saw it as an opportunity to start their own business. “She told me: ‘Buy it for me, buy it for me,’” he says. They named it Lolita’s after their daughter. After three years on Kidder Street, Lolita’s moved to its current location in a commercial space on Front Street, a place about eight times larger. Front Street runs along Highway 101 and is a popular place for locals and travelers visiting Pinnacles National Park or who are just passing by Soledad on their way to their final destination. Little by little they started to expand their menu, adding tortas, fruit juices and more. Now the Lolita’s menu has over 50 options to choose from—and people can stop by to quickly grab a drink or snack or sit down and eat a full meal. Recently, Lolita’s turned 30 years old, and received recognition for its long-running operation from California’s 29th Assembly District and 14th Senate District. “It has been a lot of effort,” Lopez Mendoza says in Spanish. “Thanks to God, we’ve always had a lot of clientele.” Beyond the recognition from government representatives, the family celebrated the 30th anniversary of their business with a group hug and doing what they do best: providing tasty Mexican snacks and food. Every member of the family—including Lopez Mendoza, her husband, her daughter Lolita and the couple’s two sons—have all worked in the family business. The oldest, Daniel, and youngest, Ronaldo, both still work at Lolita’s. Nachos, tortas and shaved ice are some of the most popular items. Lolita’s also sells obispos—a sweet, refreshing treat with raspado, ice cream, condensed milk and a touch of powdered cinnamon that is very common in Guanajuato, Mexico—the state Castro and Lopez Mendoza are from. A favorite obispo combo is Horchata shaved iced with vanilla ice cream. But if these flavors are not of your liking, no problem—customers can mix and match from the store’s selection of 12 syrup flavors and 18 ice cream flavors. Lopez Mendoza learned how to make them by experimenting with ingredients. She highlights that she didn’t go to school, but this wasn’t an obstacle to having a business or creating her own ice cream recipes. Most of the food and sweet flavors are house-made, including the syrup for the raspados, the carnitas and tamales (pork, sweet and rajas and cheese). The only seasonal item is champurrado—a thick and creamy chocolate-based atole thickened with corn masa or flour (a drink sold only during winter). Former South County residents return to Lolita’s, and travelers return to a comforting Mexican snack spot along the 101 every time they come back home or pass by. “People come and seek our products. That motivates us more and makes us move forward,” Lopez Mendoza says. “That keeps us in business.” Lolita’s Ice Cream is at 521 Front St., Soledad. 678-3828. First course Maria Esther Lopez Mendoza and her husband Longino Castro have worked for decades at Lolita’s Ice Cream, providing customers with tasty Mexican snacks and treats. Pastry Case…Great news for local carb lovers—Ad Astra’s Alvarado Street cafe and bakery is now open. Go for the beautiful pastries, stick around for an espresso drink (and don’t forget to pick up a loaf of sourdough to take home). The bakery is also hiring front-of-house staff, so get in touch if that’s something you’re interested in. 479 Alvarado St., Monterey. adastrabread.com. Dessert Night…In addition to their regular breakfast, lunch, and bakery service Wed-Sun 7:30am-3pm, The Perfect Crumb Bakery now hosts “dessert night” on Saturdays from 4-9pm. Stop by for desserts like brownies à la mode, ice cream sandwiches, ice cream sundaes and baked goods like cookies and cupcakes. There will also be a rotating special of the night. 301 Lighthouse Ave., Suite B, Monterey. 241-6269, theperfectcrumbbakery.net. Get Hooked…Meals On Wheels Monterey and Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust are teaming up to present a benefit dinner on Thursday, Sept. 7 from 5-8pm. Guests will enjoy a four-course dinner made with sustainably sourced seafood from Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust and wine pairings from Wrath Wines. All proceeds of tickets ($150 per person and can be purchased at https://e.givesmart.com/events/xAv/) go to Meals on Wheels of the Monterey Peninsula, helping deliver home-cooked meals to those who are not able to access or prepare them themselves. 700 Jewell Ave., Pacific Grove. 3754454, mowmp.org. Gametime For Happy Hour… Football means happy hour pricing at the Links Club. When you watch your favorite football team—NFL or college— play, you will enjoy happy hour prices. Cheer your team on while sipping discounted beer and wine. This special is good for Monday, Thursday and Sunday NFL games, and Saturday and special college game days. Ocean Avenue and Mission Street, Suite 101, Carmel. 2507816, linksclubgolf.com. Patio Redux…The popular patio at Esteban Restaurant is now refreshed and reopened—with new landscaping, fire pits and a stone fireplace. Visitors can enjoy dining al fresco with small bites and drinks from an expanded tapas happy hour menu. 700 Munras Ave., Monterey. 375-0176, hotelcasamunras.com. By Jacqueline Weixel morsels Send a bite to eatanddrink@mcweekly.com The family celebrated the 30th anniversary with a group hug. Eat + DrinK Daniel Dreifuss Flavor Excursion Lolita’s is a refreshing spot in South County, offering a rainbow of Mexican flavors. By Celia Jiménez