A Mexican dessert shop down in Paramount might be onto something with its concha ice cream sandwich. Horchateria Rio Luna probably wasn't the first to put ice cream in a sweet cookie-topped Mexican sweet bread, but they're doing it with style in this South LA neighborhood. The Mexican dessert house debuted in February 2016, drawing two-hour lines over the summer.
Horchateria Rio Luna resides in Paramount Plaza, a square strip mall that’s also home to local legend Alondra Hot Wings and a T.J. Maxx clothing store. The business rests between a dental office and eyebrow threading, in case you plan to fine-tune your facial appearance, but Mexican sweets are the main draw to the plaza.
A dull glass façade gives way to a colorful dessert wonderland. The space houses painting-lined walls, many honoring Frida Kahlo, with seating in metal chairs at wood tables and counters. The seemingly disparate images I mentioned earlier appear on a blackboard. Miriam Bricio painted the highly personal mural for owners Ashley Vazquez, husband David, and sister Amber Bobadilla, who grew up in Paramount. The mural also features Day of the Dead imagery, loteria cards, pan dulce, and the name of the sisters’ grandmother, Consuelo, alongside roses. Each image refers either to their Mexican heritage, family, or personal preferences.
Horchateria Rio Luna features three primary dessert categories: horchata, churros, and concha ice cream sandwiches, all worth a drive. Horchata starts basic, with cinnamon-tinged rice milk, but can quickly get far more advanced. Add horchata to iced coffee for an easy caffeine kick. Or better yet, try the Oaxacan horchata ($5.50) in which the base liquid comes on ice with a sweet-tart, dark purple scoop of pitaya sorbet, juicy cantaloupe melon chunks, coconut flakes and walnuts. Stir to fully integrate the flavors and to form a pink color.
Stuffed with ice cream, drizzled with caramel, dusted with walnuts
Churros ($5) come four to an order and are fried to order in two types of vegan oil, resulting in crispy crusts and chewy cores. Traditional churros are coated in cinnamon and sugar, and certainly taste good when eaten hot, but still benefit from embellishment. I enjoyed the lashings of guava syrup and cajeta, caramel sauce. Strawberry syrup and lechera, sweetened condensed milk, are also ready for drizzling. You can add ice cream to form a sundae with churros as the base.
The concha ice cream sandwich ($4-5.50) is a seriously fun contribution to the genre. Soft buns are baked off-site and delivered daily. Shell-shaped sweetbreads are crowned with a baked chocolate or vanilla crust, and they’ll also provide a bright pink strawberry concha if you commit to a large sandwich. Regardless of flavor, they’re stuffed with two scoops of creamy vanilla ice cream, drizzled with cajeta and dusted with crushed walnuts. This concha has considerably more give than standard cookies, so rest assured that your ice cream won’t get squeezed out the sides.
Horchateria Rio Luna has found so much early success that the family’s already looking to expand. They plan to bake conchas on-site, add some more menu items, and incorporate live music into the mix. The transition could take place by early 2017. Timing is unsure, but locals can rest assured they plan to stay in Paramount.
Horchateria Rio Luna, 15729 Downey Ave., Paramount, 562.338.7192