Where to find chamango, the chilled Mexican fruit drink, in L.A.
When the weather gets hot, a refreshing treat is in order. Some flock to gelato while others wait in line for shaved ice. For those who want a little spice to battle the heat, there’s the chamango.
A portmanteau of chamoy and mango, a chamango is also called a mangonada, depending on where you go. The ingredients in a chamango may change depending on who’s making it and a customer’s preference. The key ingredients are mango and chamoy, a savory and spicy sauce often used to flavor fruit in Mexico. As long as the end result is a cup of something sweet, spicy, tart and most importantly, chilled, it doesn’t matter what else goes inside.
Garcia’s Fruits — The chamango at Garcia’s Fruits is a neighborhood favorite judging by the people liked up to order during busy times. Bite-sized pieces of mango are put on the bottom of the cup with a healthy shake of chili pepper and chamoy. Customers then get to choose four scoops of sorbets for the middle layer. Some more chamoy is drizzled on top, then another layer of mango pieces. A lid is put on, then a wide straw. The finishing touch is a tamarind candy straw that’s inserted last.
For a more cooling effect, go for the more tart sorbet flavors — mango, lime, and cucumber is a combination that works well with the spicy, salty chamoy and the tamarind candy. 9661 Garvey Ave., Suite 103, South El Monte.
Fruteria Huerta — Fruteria Huerta’s chamango is of the crushed ice variety. Large pieces of mango are layered with coarsely chopped ice, mango miel (a kind of syrupy, candied mango), chamoy, chili powder and spice, more ice, more chamoy, chili powder, more chopped up mango, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and topped with a tamarind candy straw.
Because of the ample use of chamoy and spice, this chamango is less sweet and more salty, spicy, and sour. If you like bloody Mary’s, you’ll like this one. The candied mango is a welcome addition, as are the pieces of mango at the bottom of the cup that have been swimming in the salty, spicy mixture so that they taste pickled. This chamango only comes in one size: heartburn. 1705 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra.
Raspado Express — This East L.A. outpost of the mini-chain was hopping on a Saturday afternoon where temperatures reached past 85 degrees. Grandmothers, high-schoolers, and families were in line for raspados.
The chamango at Raspado Xpress is more true to the raspado name than to a smoothie. A plastic cup is filled with crushed ice, some bites of mango, and then a chamoy flavored syrup is drizzled on. More crushed ice tops the cup before the bubble top is placed on, and then a final drizzle of yellow syrup. Fans of neon-colored shave ice should feel right at home having a chamango at Raspado Xpress. Their version is only slightly spicy, but still refreshing on a hot spring day. 5540 Whittier Blvd., East Los Angeles.
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