Walking into La Casa de Sharon, a newly reopened Mexican snack shop in Lakewood, presents an epic conflict.
Co-owner Lilia Membrilla’s fruit juices — juiced to order — are the kind you high five yourself for after ordering because you’re really killing that whole healthy living thing.
Then I spot Tostilocos. That’s a bag of Tostitos chips torn open and stuffed with toppings, walking-taco style.
One version, Tostielotes, comes with a huge cheesy lava flow of 7-Eleven style nacho sauce, plus pickled jalapenos and corn. A lot of corn.
It is not carb-friendly at all. And I love it.
Bring on the guilt.
“It’s funny. We have this juice called quemar grasa, which basically translates to ‘burned fat juice.’ It’s orange, grapefruit, pineapple, lime, tomato and a little bit of cucumber. Then we have all these nachos and stuff. But people like it. They order the quemar grasa while eating a cup of corn with mayonnaise and cheese,” said Paulina Lopez.
That cup of mayo-laden corn is called esquites, and it is delicious.
It’s all about balance, she says.
I’m with her.
Lopez’s parents, Lilia Membrilla and Pablo Lopez, own the snack shop. She’s worked there for almost half of her life. They bought it when Lopez was in grade school, about eight years ago, and it operated for a handful of years before that under a different owner.
Until four months ago, La Casa de Sharon operated at 9716 South Tacoma Way, but the family lost their space when the building sold.
In September, they opened the new cafe at 10518 South Tacoma Way with about 20 seats in a cafe setting where diners order at the counter.
They’re in the same strip mall as Cham Garden Korean BBQ Buffet and Paraiso Native Filipino Restaurant. Mazatlan, the Mexican restaurant, is a few doors down.
Categorizing La Casa de Sharon’s menu is a chore because it encompasses a huge slice of the Mexican snack-food world.
They serve torta sandwiches, hot dogs and snacks found at a convenience store but also a huge assortment of fresh-squeezed juices with such healthful ingredients as carrots, ginger, beets, cucumbers and citrus fruits that Membrilla buys and squeezes in bulk.
In addition to the corn-in-the-cup, they also serve elotes, which are corn cobs slathered in mayo and coated in cheese and, if you want, crushed Takis or Flaming Hot Cheetos. La Casa de Sharon has five kinds of street corn ($5.05). Be still my corn-lovin’ heart.
There’s also a huge menu of fresh-cut fruit dishes, such as the fruit bonanza called escamocha, a big container filled with fresh-cut apples, pineapple, bananas, cantaloupe and strawberries drizzled with fresh-squeezed orange juice, a little honey and topped with shredded coconut and raisins ($6.99). Did I mention that Membrilla cuts all of that — to order? There’s also a version with granola.
Then there’s the long list of raspados, Mexican shaved ice desserts that are about the most delicious icy treat you’ll ever try ($4.25 to $4.57). Contrary to popular belief, Mexican shaved ice is as popular in winter as summer, said Lopez.
“When we first started making the raspados, we would shave the ice from a big block, but we couldn’t keep up with that. It was a lot of work,” said Lopez.
They soon bought an ice machine.
“Our most popular shaved ice is the mangonada,” she said. “There’s also strawberry, my personal favorite, because it has sweetened condensed milk on top. At times, we have eggnog, and we usually have coconut, vanilla, tamarind, guava, pineapple, and we also have lime.
“We also have a bunch of the kid flavors like watermelon, bubblegum, strawberry, grape. And the kid ones come with candy on top.”
The mangonada most certainly is a must-order at La Casa de Sharon. It’s built with a base of crunchy ice with a generous drizzle of chamoy — the tangy and slightly spicy Mexican condiment — fresh cubed mango and Tajin, the Mexican chile-salt seasoning. A tamarind-candy-coated straw juts out of the top. It’s a little spicy, a little puckery and a whole lot of refreshing.
The rest of the menu includes ice cream scooped into a dish or cone, big salads, fresh fruit milkshakes, fresh fruit smoothies and so many other things, it’s impossible to describe them all. Here’s a quick look at the menu:
Fresh juices: More than 15 juice blends made-to-order ($4.25 to $5.05).
Frozen desserts: Raspados in dozens of flavors ($4.25 to $4.57), plus eight kinds of ice cream (starting at $2.75)
Corn and Tostilocos: Esquites in a cup or elotes with a variety of coatings ($5.05), plus six kinds of Tostilocos with various toppings ($5.95).
Sandwiches and salads: A dozen torta and other sandwiches ($4.25 to $7.99), giant salads ($4.57 to $7.99), sandwich wraps ($6.99),
Weekends only: Tamales and champurrado.
Mangonada tip: Aside from La Casa de Sharon, be sure to try mangonadas and other raspados at Erica Peace, Love and Ice Cream and Raspados Pasadita, both on Pacific Avenue. El Toro in Puyallup has a grown-up version of a mangonada made with tequila.
La Casa de Sharon
Where: 10518 South Tacoma Way, Lakewood