by Tom Sims
Expect bright, happy, cheerful food served by a bright, happy, cheerful host when you visit Raspados California in Fresno. Ricardo Aceves loves what he does and he loves the food he makes.
Some thirty years ago, as a teenager in Mexico, Ricardo developed his own flavors of shaved ice. Today, he serves them in his own place with no artificial ingredients, and with fresh fruit and raw sugar. That is, except for the sugarless strawberry ice, for which he uses Splenda®
Shaved ice is the cornerstone of Raspados California’s menu – and it is desert! I counted and tasted twelve fruit flavors and three milk flavors. Lime, tamarindo, peach, guava, and watermelon are among them. The milk favors are pecan, vanilla, and coconut.
When Ricardo set them all in front of me, I apologized, saying I could not possibly eat them all. I changed my mind! When I walked out, I wanted more. It is a good thing that my office is only a half mile away. Other deserts include strawberries with sweet cream, parfaits, and assorted fruits.
Then there is the food.
I was drawn by the fact that they advertized a vegetarian menu and I was not disappointed. The Chilindrina is a tostada on a unique, crispy, tortilla covered with cucumbers, jicama, lettuce, and other fresh ingredients that delight the taste buds and nourish the body.
The Tostiloco is a favorite of children, stuffed with lots of fun ingredients including Japanese peanuts.
You can get your food spicy, moderate, or mild.
One of the most unique items is the Diablitos. It is shaved ice with hot sauce. Go figure!The Tortas Ahogas (pulled pork) looked mouth watering and brought back thoughts of my meat-eating days. Escamochas and nachos top off the Mexican choices, though I suspect there are more. There seem to be some hidden treasures if you ask the right questions. Go ahead and ask. Ricardo loves to talk about his food, his ingredients, and his journey.
There are the sandwiches. What kind do they have? What do you like? Ricardo lists the ingredients in categories and you mix and match. Whatever you order, the price is the same.
Raspados California, in the heart of Fresno and has been open for six weeks. Situated on Blackstone between Ashlan and Gettysburg, it provides a bright spot in the neighborhood.
The atmosphere is relaxed and casual, but bright and creative. The colors conspire to say, “Sit down and eat.” You order from the counter and the food is brought to you. After eating, you bus your own table.
It is becoming more than a neighborhood restaurant. It is evolving into a community place in a neighborhood that starves for community.
Ricardo’s journey brought him from Mexico where he developed his recipes for the United States where he built a successful career in the food service industry. As an achiever and the child and sibling of achievers, he never lost his desire to share his special flavors with the world. They are his flavors and the recipes are a trade secret.
Through the years, he carried his shaved ice to events and sold it out of his home. He is still willing to host shaved ice parties, fund raisers, and church events, but he needed a venue to regularly market his healthy foods to a consistent clientele. A layoff from his day job facilitated that.
Would he like to broaden his reach? A smile betrays a larger dream. At 46, Ricardo has the time, energy, and creativity to expand his vision. So far, business has been good and Aceves is doing what he really enjoys.
He also has the family support. Everyone is involved – even his parents and children. His daughter is a budding artist who designed the store logo. His father is a chef in his own right.
I would describe the ethnicity of Raspados California’s food as a fusion of cultural cuisines with Ricardo’s own special “twist.” However, on both of my visits, the store had a number of customers speaking Spanish and the menus are printed in English and Spanish. So, though it is not traditional Mexican food, it appeals to the tastes of those who love Mexican flavor.
The restaurant describes itself as American (New), Fast Food, Hawaiian, Sandwiches, and Vegetarian. It takes pride in its appeal to children and families. It also offers outdoor seating.
On each of my visits, they were busy. On Sunday, they were very busy. And everyone was happy! Ricardo says that there is something for everyone at his place. He was certainly willing and able to accommodate my unique tastes and dietary requirements. There is structure with flexibility and a sincere desire to please. Everything is fresh, even the atmosphere! Nothing comes prepackaged.
To the extent that the menu may be a little confusing to the uninitiated, the staff is willing to take the time to initiate, explain, and answer questions. For those of us who enjoy conversation and community as much as good food at reasonable prices, that is a very big plus.
Raspados California is located at 4592 N. Blackstone Ave., Fresno, CA. 93726. It is accessible from the Shaw or the Ashlan exits off 41. Their hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. They take all major credit cards.
For special orders, catering, or inquiries, call them at 559-226-0600, fax at 559-226-0645 or visit their Facebook page.
A trip to Raspados California will not only be tasty and healthy, it will also be fun!