Global: Frozen Mexican treats burst with color and fantastical flavors

Bethia Woolf
Piña loca and sandia loca fruit cocktail from Diamonds Ice Cream

After admiring his nephew's new ice cream concept in Guadalajara, Mexico, Jose Torres concluded the concept would be good for America. It was a thought he couldn't shake. And on Jan. 15, 2015, Torres and his partner, René Florez, debuted Diamonds Ice Cream in a space previously inhabited by a jewelry shop on the busy corner of Sawmill and Bethel roads.

The plan was to open in the off-season and give their team a few months to refine the business before the summer crowds came in earnest. However, Torres quickly learned that while his Mexico-born patrons tend to eat frozen treats in the warm season, “Americans come for ice cream anytime,” he says.

Diamonds' bright, shiny and spotlessly clean pink and purple shop has quickly become a Technicolor beacon for frozen treat lovers of all stripes, in any season. Paletas (Mexican-style popsicles) may be what Diamonds is best known for and display an impressive level of craft. In some, slices of kiwi and strawberry are meticulously arranged prior to freezing so as to create a pleasing visual composition, while others are layered to make alternating stripes of ice cream and sorbet. Among them, the apricot and cheese paleta is outstanding.

Torres smiles as he discusses the diversity of his customer base, attributing his success to the wide range of flavors (both exotic and familiar) Diamonds offers, the shop's use of fresh fruit and the quality control achieved by making all of Diamonds' frozen treats in house.

Sampling bears this out. Conventional flavors like mint chocolate chip or cookies and cream are crowd-pleasers, but the fruit flavors—particularly the fruits that are native to Mexico—shine. Choices include guava, mamey sapote, nance, soursop, mango and prickly pear, with the complex tropical essence of the soursop being a favorite.

In addition to paletas, other fruity offerings are mangonadas, fruit slushies with sliced mango and flavorings like lime and chile powder. And for something truly over-the-top, order a piña loca or sandia loca—eye-catching towers of fresh fruit spiked with spicy and sweet-sour toppings like Tajin (a Mexican seasoning powder) and chamoy (a savory sauce).

Soon, Diamonds customers will have three locations to choose from, including a newly opened shop in Hilliard and another opening soon in Westerville.

Two More to Explore:

Dulce Vida Ice Cream Factory

This West Side alternative to Diamonds features a similarly refined space and a comparably extensive range of ice cream and paleta flavors. Standout flavors include chongos zamoranos, an ice cream based upon a traditional Michoacán curdled milk dessert. A new location on the North Side is opening soon.

La Laguna

Tucked away inside a West Side laundromat, La Laguna features an enjoyable assortment of nieves (think ice cream with a sorbet-like texture) in flavors such as tequila, eggnog-like rompope and prickly pear. But La Laguna's calling card is raspados, shaved-ice treats with fresh fruit syrups and toppings. Strawberry and piña colada are among the best sellers, and the spicy diablitos (with fruit, chamoy, lime and chili) is a customer favorite.

Diamonds Ice Cream

3870 Main St., Hilliard,


5461 Bethel Sawmill Ctr., Northwest Side;

Westerville location coming soon

Dulce Vida Ice Cream Factory

4201 W. Broad St., West Side, 614-429-3289

La Laguna

5455 Norton Ctr., West Side, 614-569-1507